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updated: 1/4/2016 5:27 AM

Lester: Ex-COD spokesman playing role in Topinka's son's suit

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  • Joseph Topinka, son of late Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, speaks during a public memorial for his mother in December 2014.

    Joseph Topinka, son of late Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, speaks during a public memorial for his mother in December 2014.
    Associated Press File Photo

 
 

Weeks after resigning from his role as a consultant for the College of DuPage, Chris Robling has re-emerged in another political dispute -- aiding the son of late Illinois comptroller Judy Baar Topinka in a lawsuit against her former chief of staff over unused campaign funds.

Robling lives a few blocks from Topinka's former Riverside home and says he has a local connection to Joseph Baar Topinka, now of Texas, and the attorney who represents him. Robling says he's doing the work largely pro bono and that he has accepted about $750 for work over the last year.

The claims

The suit, filed Tuesday in Cook County circuit court, claims Nancy Kimme converted $89,000 from Topinka's nearly $1 million campaign fund for personal use after Topinka's death. Kimme says the money went to pay campaign staff and memorial expenses, and that the allegations are a smoke screen for Topinka's son to claim a portion of the fund. State election law says money received before 1998 -- roughly $341,000 -- may be returned to Topinka's estate.

Kimme is represented by Mike Kasper, the Illinois Democratic Party's top election attorney and a former Madigan aide. "Nobody's better at election law in Illinois," Kimme says.

Slogan pushback

As a Des Plaines native myself, I got a chuckle reading resident Zach Stellberg's recent letter to Mayor Matt Bogusz opposing Des Plaines' rebranding effort, which would replace the long-standing "City of Destiny" with "Good Move."

"I grew up with the City of Destiny as the DP motto," Stellberg writes. "A close knit group of friends of mine, many who still live in DP, used this (albeit tongue in cheek) as a badge of honor when referring to where we grew up. It kind of slips off the tongue in an eloquent manner. 'Des Plaines, Good Move' comes off like a used-car salesman or an Ex-Lax commercial from the '80s."

Original recipe

The Arlington Heights Historical Society -- in a building that years ago served as a soda pop factory -- is reintroducing four flavors of Arlington Club Beverages -- lemon, strawberry, ginger ale and sarsaparilla (which is kind of like root beer, I'm told). These handcrafted sodas follow the original recipes used by the Sass and Brother manufacturers in 1872 and are produced and bottled by Avery's Bottling Works in New Britain, Connecticut. They're available at the museum's gift shop for $8 per four-pack but disappearing fast. Historical Society President Betsy Kmiecik says the first order of 40 cases sold out in just three weeks.

Morton sets record

A 6-foot-tall hummingbird and flower sculpture was part of the exhibit "Nature Connects: Art with Lego Bricks" by Sean Kenney at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle.
A 6-foot-tall hummingbird and flower sculpture was part of the exhibit "Nature Connects: Art with Lego Bricks" by Sean Kenney at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle. - Courtesy of Sean Kenney

Morton Arboretum in Lisle set a record of having one million visitors in 2015. Officials at the 93-year-old nature center credit the increase in attendance and membership to two exhibits: "Nature Connects: Art with Lego Bricks" by Sean Kenney and the annual "Illumination: Tree Lights."

Rigg's first challenge

Today's the last day for the fundraising drive to raise $300,000 to keep St. Alphonsus Liguori Catholic School open in Prospect Heights. Dealing with the school's potential closure and enrollment decline represents the first visible key test for new archdiocese Superintendent of Schools Jim Rigg, who was brought in after successfully stabilizing enrollment numbers at Catholic schools in Cincinnati.

Soldier with Palatine ties on 'Harvey'

Medal of Honor recipient Florent Groberg, formerly of Palatine, is scheduled to appear on Steve Harvey's "Motivational Monday" episode scheduled for 2 p.m. today on NBC 5. Groberg, 32, tells Daily Herald reporter Eric Peterson his father and sister lived in Palatine and he moved there in 1994 for a short time. In later years, he'd stay in the Countryside Apartments on Northwest Highway during visits.

The retired Army captain received the Medal of Honor after saving the lives of fellow soldiers while sustaining injuries himself in a 2012 suicide bomber attack in Afghanistan.

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