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Rauner scrambling to placate southern Illinois

Friday, Dec 1, 2017

* From a November 8th article in the Southern Illinoisan

The following political leaders have visited Cairo since the public housing crisis in Illinois’ southernmost city came to a head:

    • Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson • U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, both Democrats • U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro • Delta Regional Authority Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill • State Sen. Dale Fowler, R-Harrisburg • State Rep. Natalie Phelps Finnie, D-Elizabethtown • Former State Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Eldorado • Former Illinois Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno, of Lemont • State Treasurer Mike Frerichs • Democratic gubernatorial candidates J.B. Pritzker, Chris Kennedy and Daniel Biss and former candidate Ameya Pawar

Meanwhile, one prominent Illinois political leader has not visited Cairo since HUD announced in April its decision to relocate about 400 people from two derelict public housing complexes that have been deemed beyond repair:

    • Gov. Bruce Rauner

As you will see, that one stung him but good.

* A week later, Rauner was in the region for a hastily arranged press conference to announce a project that few knew was coming

In 1993, the Sahara Coal Co. closed its doors and some 300 miners lost their jobs.

On Wednesday, Gov. Bruce Rauner visited that company’s reclaimed strip mine near Carrier Mills and announced that the state plans to develop a 26-mile off-highway vehicle trail system here, the first-of-its kind on state-owned land in Illinois.

* As we’ve already discussed, the Southern wasn’t impressed by the visit

Gov. Bruce Rauner made a cameo appearance Wednesday in Southern Illinois, appearing at a hastily-called, bizarre press availability at Sahara Woods State Fish and Wildlife Area near Carrier Mills. […]

Assembled media members fired questions at Rauner after the announcement. His response, or lack thereof, was reminiscent of an absentee father bringing elaborately wrapped gifts to his child’s birthday party, but having absolutely no idea what was inside the packages.

It wouldn’t have taken much thought to anticipate the first two questions — how many jobs will be created by this project and when will ground be broken. Yet, Rauner didn’t have these most basic answers. […]

The number of jobs will be determined when construction plans are finalized. And, no timetable for construction was announced, although Rauner did say he hopes it will open in the first half of 2019.

Yet, the governor assured us that the track would be an economic engine for the area.

Pardon us if we’re skeptical.

There are two similar commercial operations nearby — Little Egypt Off Road, located in Williamson County, and Williams Hill Pass, which is southeast of Harrisburg. While both contribute to the financial health of the region, calling the two entities economic engines would seem to be a stretch.

Opening a government-operated off-road vehicle trail that will compete with two privately owned trails seems a bit counter-productive, but whatever.

* Anyway, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Rauner was back in the region this week

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner stressed the importance of economic growth and investing in education during a special luncheon Wednesday at Rend Lake College.

The event was held in honor of a delegation from the Japanese Consulate’s Chicago office which toured Jefferson County to learn more about the region’s economy. Rauner and Japanese Consulate Consul General Naoki Ito were featured guests at the luncheon.

* And

Governor Bruce Rauner joined Japan’s Consul General to the Midwest at Rend Lake College for a workforce and education roundtable.

* But the governor also faced questions while he was down there about a project he launched over a year ago that hasn’t yet gotten off the ground

The proposed re-purposing of the Illinois Youth Center facility in Murphysboro is taking longer than originally announced.

In October 2016, Governor Bruce Rauner said he wanted to re-open the center as a life skills and a re-entry facility. He expected it to open in about six months. But, 13 months later, the facility remains closed.

Rauner was asked about it during a visit to southern Illinois Wednesday. The governor said he doesn’t know when it will re-open, but as far as he’s concerned, the sooner the better.

“I don’t want to give you an exact date. But, I’m pushing this fast. I want it open yesterday. I’m going to push as much as I can.”

He said it’ll be an important economic engine for the region and help keep communities safer.

* From October 14, 2016

This facility — expected to open in six months — will house about 300 prisoners on the verge of re-entering the community and employ about 120 people, Rauner said. It will be managed under the Pinckneyville facility, which is managed by Warden Jacqueline Lashbrook, who was also at Friday’s news conference.

It was built in 1997 and closed in 2011.

“This facility should never have been closed,” Rauner said, to a spattering of applause from some of those assembled. “We’ve got budget trouble, but we have to make sure our facilities are run well.” […]

At the news conference, the governor did not specifically say where the money would come from to finance the project. Rauner’s press secretary said later that it would cost $800,000 to reopen and repurpose the facility.

* Related…

* 1 year after Rauner pledged to reopen IYC as adult re-entry center, open date remains unclear

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Anon221 - Friday, Dec 1, 17 @ 12:29 pm:

    Rauner on the IYC in Murphysboro- ” I’m going to push as much as I can.” The “But, Madigan” was implied. /s

  2. - JS Mill - Friday, Dec 1, 17 @ 12:36 pm:

    That Bruce, he loves him some big government.

    Geez, pick a lane dude.

  3. - 360 Degree TurnAround - Friday, Dec 1, 17 @ 12:36 pm:

    Easy to put on the carhardt, and act like common people. Not so easy for him to be among the common people.

  4. - Honeybear - Friday, Dec 1, 17 @ 12:45 pm:

    If Rauner were really serious about economic development in Southern Illinois he would have staffed the DCEO Regional Economic Teams or RED teams. Instead whole regions have gone without A single rep for months at a time. The National Geospatial headquarters was so destined for the Metro East. Obama plugged for it. But Missouri stole it right out from under us. DCEO totally bungled it. Total failure.
    Rauner has never been interested in economically helping Southern Illinois.
    Only in forming Intersect Illinois and giving huge tax rebates
    To profitable multinationals
    Look at how much Rauner made last year
    From his investments.
    90,000 an hour. An increase since he took office.
    He changes jobs
    And makes more money?
    I guess Investments in Southern Illinois
    Aren’t profitable
    He doesn’t wear a tie down here.
    Except maybe for the Japanese
    But how much in EDGE is that going to cost us?
    Southern Illinois has noticed
    And will vote accordingly
    I think Ives will do well here.
    They love cupcakes here.

  5. - Juice - Friday, Dec 1, 17 @ 12:46 pm:

    “This facility should never have been closed,”

    The DJJ population was once 1600 youths and is now around 400. Yet facilities should not have been closed?

    Also, dude, you closed Kewanee as an IYC. (And it now has a staff to inmate ratio far exceeding any other facility, which may not be a terrible thing, but might not be the most efficient either.)

  6. - @MisterJayEm - Friday, Dec 1, 17 @ 12:57 pm:

    “The DJJ population was once 1600 youths and is now around 400. Yet facilities should not have been closed?”

    And in the next breath, he will prattle on about wasteful inefficiencies.

    Jeanne Ives is right about one thing: Bruce Rauner is a man of inconsistencies and falsehoods.

    – MrJM

  7. - Trapped in the 'burbs - Friday, Dec 1, 17 @ 1:02 pm:

    More unforced errors. His wife said that he doesn’t have a social agenda, I think she meant that he doesn’t have a clue.

  8. - Arsenal - Friday, Dec 1, 17 @ 1:06 pm:

    “This facility should never have been closed,”

    Wasn’t someone just acting like it’s nuts to say Rauner favors expanded government?

  9. - wordslinger - Friday, Dec 1, 17 @ 1:09 pm:

    Rauner is proposing a government-financed track to compete with two privately financed competitors?

    That’s not economic development, that’s communism running capitalists out of business.

  10. - Langhorne - Friday, Dec 1, 17 @ 1:11 pm:


    Clue: easier to do positive appearances, when they are backed up by accomplishments, but that requires competence.

  11. - J. Nolan - Friday, Dec 1, 17 @ 1:17 pm:

    In regards to Saharra Woods - it’s not adding competition. Its adding a third track in the area. This is what is known in tourism as creating a destination. People who travel to ride their ATV are now more likely to go to Saline to spend their money while they stay for a day or two. Sorry that is such a hard concept to comprehend.

  12. - J. Nolan - Friday, Dec 1, 17 @ 1:20 pm:

    So Rauner being in Southern Illinois three times in a month is your definition of scrambling to placate them? Maybe that says more about how you view Southern Illinois than that how Gov views them.

  13. - Anon - Friday, Dec 1, 17 @ 2:04 pm:

    Rauner closed the Hardin County Work Camp, then veto the bill that would reopen it.

  14. - Sir Reel - Friday, Dec 1, 17 @ 2:09 pm:

    Saying Sahara Woods is a “reclaimed” strip mine is a stretch. Ist of the site was mined before reclamation laws took effect.

    It was a dubious choice as a State Fish and Wildlife Area. Maybe it will work as an off-road area. But it’s a long way from most of the state’s population.

  15. - Concerned Observer - Friday, Dec 1, 17 @ 2:20 pm:

    You know what actually IS an economic engine for that part of the state? Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.

    How’s about funding that to spec, instead of building a couple small hills and calling it an off-road track?

  16. - IllinoisBoi - Friday, Dec 1, 17 @ 2:23 pm:

    “A sacrifice zone or sacrifice area (often termed a national sacrifice zone or national sacrifice area) is a geographic area that has been permanently impaired by environmental damage or economic disinvestment. These zones are most commonly found in low-income and minority communities.Commentators including Chris Hedges, Joe Sacco, and Stephen Lerner have argued that corporate business practices contribute to producing sacrifice zones.”

    Sound familiar?

  17. - wordslinger - Friday, Dec 1, 17 @ 2:31 pm:

    – it’s not adding competition. It’s adding a third track in the area.–

    Geez, some of you apologists believe words can mean anything you want.

    It’s adding a government-financed third track to compete with two privately owned tracks.

    Your spin doesn’t change those facts.

  18. - Ducky LaMoore - Friday, Dec 1, 17 @ 2:48 pm:

    ===So Rauner being in Southern Illinois three times in a month is your definition of scrambling to placate them? Maybe that says more about how you view Southern Illinois than that how Gov views them.===

    Yes. When he doesn’t go there for seven months, gets bad press, and then goes three times in a month, that is scrambling to placate them. I know you are trying your darnedest to get on some $50k/year commission that only meets twice annually, but lets not leave reality behind.

  19. - illini - Friday, Dec 1, 17 @ 2:49 pm:

    “Sacrifice Zone” That is a new one for me and I consider myself relatively well read and literate.

    That being the case, I wonder if SIUC could be included in this category because of the states “economic disinvestment” in the area. Just asking.

  20. - IllinoisBoi - Friday, Dec 1, 17 @ 3:02 pm:

    ==I wonder if SIUC could be included in this [sacrifice zone] category because of the states “economic disinvestment” in the area. Just asking.==

    I think you’re totally justified to come to that conclusion. And strip mine country as found in southern Illinois is the ultimate “sacrifice zone.”

  21. - Pot calling kettle - Friday, Dec 1, 17 @ 3:26 pm:

    ===So Rauner being in Southern Illinois three times in a month is your definition of scrambling to placate them? Maybe that says more about how you view Southern Illinois than that how Gov views them.===

    He still cannot seem to find Cairo or anywhere south of IL 13. Hint: Cairo is as far south as you can go in the state.

  22. - Langhorne - Friday, Dec 1, 17 @ 3:48 pm:

    Lynn Martin lost southern illinois, w an ill chosen, flippant use of the word “redneck”. Once gone, there was no turning things around. Rauner has damaged and neglected the area, and is scrambling to make up. I suspect it is too little, too late. The ATV track is phony and offensive, and they know it.

  23. - Aethur Andersen - Friday, Dec 1, 17 @ 4:01 pm:

    Jim Thompson might be in Southern IL once a week for six weeks, then gone for a couple months, then back frequently. Why? He was there when he was needed or felt his presence could make a difference on a major issue. And he didn’t drop in and dash off once the ceremonies were done. He would get a meal with local folks, do a little antiquing, maybe drop in on a VFW or Union Hall. He loved the people of Sourhern Illinois.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

* Reader comments closed for the weekend
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