* A letter sent today to Gov. Bruce Rauner from House Speaker Michael Madigan…
Yesterday my staff and CMS had another productive discussion about the sale of the Thompson Center in Chicago. As you know, I have publicly acknowledged a desire to work with you on legislation authorizing the sale of the Thompson Center. Over the course of staff discussions, both your staff and mine determined the legislation proposed by Leader Durkin does not adequately plan for the sale and inadvertently interferes with the zoning authority of the City of Chicago. Your staff previously acknowledged that the legislation needed to be rewritten, and it was further conveyed, again yesterday, that legislation is not ready to move forward at this time.
Around the same time as this productive meeting, you stated publicly that I have held up the sale of the Thompson Center and that reporters should ask me why I’ve been blocking progress on this part of your agenda. With all due respect, I believe it is disingenuous of you and beneath your office to make such false statements to the media when you know or should have known that I have pledged my cooperation, that our staffs are working together on this initiative, and that we are working toward the same goal with your administration in good faith.
As you are aware, your administration included the sale of the Thompson Center in your proposed FY18 budget, with an anticipated sale price of $300 million. I have directed my staff to provide any assistance necessary so that we may pass legislation advantageous to the State of Illinois, while providing the least disruption to CTA commuters utilizing the lines that feed into the Thompson Center. I am advised CMS is in negotiations with the City on issues related to the CTA station and the easement, as well as zoning matters, and it is these discussions that have led to the stalling of the legislation, not my actions or the actions of the House.
Despite your inability to provide an accurate account of the facts or acknowledge my public and private comments, my staff will continue working cooperatively with your staff and CMS to develop a plan to maximize the ability of the State to sell the property, with a goal to passing legislation no later than May 31st.
With kindest personal regards, I remain
Michael J. Madigan
Speaker of the House
Your thoughts on this?
*** UPDATE 1 *** From Eleni Demertzis at the governor’s office…
Speaker Madigan and his majority have had two years to do anything productive for the people of Illinois, but instead he’s held up every proposal to create jobs, provide property tax relief, balance the budget and improve education. Two years of holding up the people of Illinois — and now just more excuses and distractions to hold up something as simple as selling the Thompson Center. As usual, positive changes in government take place when the Governor can make things happen on his own — and change hits a brick wall whenever the Speaker has the ability to block it.
Yeah, things are sure looking brighter these days.
To be clear here, the governor’s CMS director said during a House committee hearing that the administration can sell the Thompson Center without the General Assembly’s involvement. It just can’t make the sale on the administration’s preferred timeline unless legislators approve. Rauner wants to use proceeds from the sale to help balance next fiscal year’s budget.
*** UPDATE 2 *** House Republican Leader Jim Durkin told reporters this morning (click here for raw audio) that objections to the Thompson Center sale legislation by CMS is “news to me.” He’s had the bill out there since 2015, he said, and hadn’t heard of any problems identified by the administration.
Leader Durkin claimed that Madigan was engaging in stalling tactics to prevent the governor from getting any wins.
*** UPDATE 3 *** Greg Hinz discovers there is a real problem, but it can be dealt with…
Rauner has been counting on the proposed sale to generate $220 million for the state, plugging a hole in his budget, as well as tens of millions of dollars in future property-tax revenue for the city. But to get that kind of money, he wants to ramp up zoning on the site, clearing the way for a huge development, perhaps the 115-story tower that one developer envisions.
One Rauner official who asked not to be named conceded that talks with the city are continuing about tripling the size of what now legally can be built on the site, as well as access to the CTA station in any new development.
But the city agrees in principle with selling the property, and any remaining issues with language can be resolved after the General Assembly passes legislation authorizing the sale, that source said.
However, it appears the speaker wants those issues settled first—and doesn’t like Rauner attacking him in the process. He wrote, “I believe it is disingenuous of you and beneath your office to make such false statements.”