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Yet another failure

Tuesday, Feb 7, 2017

* This Tribune story about a stalled project at Olive-Harvey College on the city’s South Side of a “Transportation, Distribution and Logistics Center” to train folks for “careers in automotive technology, applied engineering, the repair and maintenance of heavy equipment and supply chain management” is an interesting read.

The story is kinda all over the place, however, so here’s a straighter timeline.

* The project was a partnership between the state and City Colleges announced way back in March of 2012 - almost five years ago - by Gov. Quinn and Mayor Emanuel. The groundbreaking ceremony was held in 2013. The state share was $31.6 million with City Colleges putting in $13.2 million.

When the budget passed by the General Assembly was vetoed by Gov. Rauner in 2015, the state halted construction on the 60 percent-completed center because it claimed it didn’t have appropriation authority.

In March of 2016, City Colleges and the mayor announced they were taking over the project. By that time, the project needed an additional $23 million to finish, which included $4 million in new costs because the facility was damaged during the eight-month delay.

But the same day of the takeover announcement last year, the Capital Development Board sent the city a letter saying state law required it to supervise construction that involve state funds

“One possible solution is for you or the city to repay the state’s taxpayers for any expenditures to date,” [Jodi Golden, executive director of the state’s Capital Development Board] wrote. “We welcome additional solutions, but must insist on a formal resolution prior to the resumption of any construction in order to comply with state law.”

The City Colleges takeover was no more.

Then, this past August, CDB informed City Colleges that it had funding for the project and also told contractors to get back to work. But that turned out to be a “premature” statement, Golden admitted to the Tribune. Construction didn’t commence.

Last month, CDB formally shelved the project again.

To date, the state has spent $24 million and City Colleges has spent about $2 million, according to the Tribune.

* The finger-pointing from the mayor’s office

“We wouldn’t even be having this conversation had the state managed to live up to the commitment they made, not once but twice, to finish the project that they negotiated in the first place,” Emanuel spokeswoman Lauren Huffman said Monday in a statement. “This is how the state of Illinois treats higher education, and students around the state - at City Colleges, at Eastern, Western, Southern and throughout the University of Illinois system, and at Chicago State - are bearing the brunt as a result.”

The response from the governor’s office

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration said in a statement Monday that the city has said it plans to work with City Colleges to allocate resources to help the Capital Development Board finish the project.

“We are hopeful that City Colleges will partner with the state and we can get this project moving again,” his office said.

* Look, if there are no appropriations, how is the thing supposed to be built? Speaking of which, why did CDB say it had the money last August when it didn’t? Or did it have the money? And color me a tad skeptical of the city’s 2016 announcement that it would complete the project on its own. With what cash?

This is the sort of wholesale failure caused by the impasse and the inability of leaders to work with each other.

But what’s done is done. Instead of pointing fingers, the mayor needs to get involved and help pass a budget. You know, those bills that contain appropriations for things like construction projects.

For instance, where is Mayor Emanuel on the Senate’s grand bargain? Or is he more allied with the House Democrats?

* What we’ve come to in this state is the constant use of bogeymen to mask and/or excuse failure. Gov. Rauner does it with Speaker Madigan on an almost hourly basis. Mayor Emanuel has taken to doing the same with Gov. Rauner.

I prefer leaders who get things done.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

18 Comments
  1. - Precinct Captain - Tuesday, Feb 7, 17 @ 12:55 pm:

    This is the Rauner M.O. Gutting projects to improve our state, making promises that cannot be kept, and lying about it. Outrageous and pathetic.


  2. - Annonin' - Tuesday, Feb 7, 17 @ 12:58 pm:

    Hmmmm..this sounds especially worrisome for those bein’ asked to vote for somethin’ and bein’ told to trust the spender ( i.e. BigBrain)


  3. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Feb 7, 17 @ 12:58 pm:


    I prefer leaders who get things done.

    Most folks do. Yet they continually vote for leaders that can’t.

    Go figure. Why people vote against their best interests is a mystery. Trump, Rauner? Proof.


  4. - Anon221 - Tuesday, Feb 7, 17 @ 1:05 pm:

    Happened at SIUE, too: http://www.bnd.com/news/local/article129903869.html


  5. - W Flag - Tuesday, Feb 7, 17 @ 1:10 pm:

    “This is the Rauner M.O. Gutting projects to improve our state, making promises that cannot be kept, and lying about it.”

    The new Olive-Harvey College building was announced by Governor Quinn and Mayor Emanuel in March of 2012. What happened in the nearly three years before Rauner took office? Two years and ten months was not enough time to design and complete the building? I think that some of the problems predated Rauner. There is plenty of blame to be shared here.


  6. - A Jack - Tuesday, Feb 7, 17 @ 1:10 pm:

    Meanwhile, violence continues to rise because inner city young people don’t have the necessary skills to earn a legal wage.


  7. - Anon - Tuesday, Feb 7, 17 @ 1:15 pm:

    ===inability of leaders to work with each other.===

    Your brush is too big.


  8. - walker - Tuesday, Feb 7, 17 @ 1:17 pm:

    This one makes my head hurt.

    ‘I’ll keep it.”
    “No, it’s mine, plus you must pay me before I take it off your hands.”
    “But you don’t have the money to finish the job.’
    “Neither do you.”
    “I’ll get it. They promised.”

    “I guess I’m buying the coffee.”


  9. - Not It - Tuesday, Feb 7, 17 @ 1:21 pm:

    Rich- unfortunately you appear to be in the minority. Most voters want someone “principled” who will “stand firm” and won’t “give in.”


  10. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Feb 7, 17 @ 1:29 pm:

    Having a figurehead chancellor at the City Colleges for the past year has not helped. Cheryl Hyman was not reappointed, but she exercised her contractual right to draw a salary for another year after being notified that she was not going to be renewed.


  11. - Earnest - Tuesday, Feb 7, 17 @ 1:32 pm:

    >I prefer leaders who get things done.

    Agreed. However, I do think Rauner who is accomplishing what he set out to do, and very effectively. In many ways that’s even worse.


  12. - So tired of political hacks - Tuesday, Feb 7, 17 @ 1:48 pm:

    =Earnest=
    Please tel me what he has effectively accomplished, other than the destruction of higher education, social services, threatening state employees, and now by back door his own party. No budget in 3 years, 12 billion unpaid bills, 6 downgrades and making Illinois the laughing stock of the US even California looks better than us.


  13. - Been There - Tuesday, Feb 7, 17 @ 1:50 pm:

    ===Then, this past August, CDB informed City Colleges that it had funding for the project and also told contractors to get back to work====
    A contractor I know working on this project was “told” to get back to work. He said ok as soon as he got the few hundred grand he was owed. Still hasn’t gone back and not sure if they ever got any money still. Might never get it


  14. - Whatever - Tuesday, Feb 7, 17 @ 2:08 pm:

    ==But the same day of the takeover announcement last year, the Capital Development Board sent the city a letter saying state law required it to supervise construction that involve state funds…

    “One possible solution is for you or the city to repay the state’s taxpayers for any expenditures to date,” [Jodi Golden, executive director of the state’s Capital Development Board] wrote. “We welcome additional solutions, but must insist on a formal resolution prior to the resumption of any construction in order to comply with state law.”==

    This is silly. The state’s contribution to the project was over and done with. This is like them saying, “We helped pay to patch some potholes in this road 5 years ago, so now we have to supervise any construction on this road forever.”


  15. - Saluki - Tuesday, Feb 7, 17 @ 2:44 pm:

    Molly Parker has an ironic photo on the twitter.

    https://t.co/kB81H3TqM1


  16. - Earnest - Tuesday, Feb 7, 17 @ 3:04 pm:

    >=Earnest=
    Please tel me what he has effectively accomplished, other than the destruction of higher education, social services, threatening state employees,

    Those are exactly the things I was thinking of. I would add taking control over legislative Republicans and digging the state budget hole deeper in order to increase Leverage. My point being that these are the things he intended to do and did accomplish them regardless of the distractions/deflections he’s put out there.


  17. - Stand Tall - Tuesday, Feb 7, 17 @ 7:37 pm:

    Make sure you have all the money in hand before you start the project for starters. Quinn put the deal together, all the money should have been guaranteed and put in place before the project was started.


  18. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Wednesday, Feb 8, 17 @ 7:00 am:

    We have EDGE to help businesses move here, but we can’t come up with the funds to educate the people who will work in these businesses. So why even have EDGE?


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