Emanuel: Rauner nixed plan to help end stalemate, sell Thompson Center

on Jun22

22 June 2017 | 6:07 pm

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration on Thursday went public with its failed plan to help break the state budget stalemate.

Sources said the mayor offered to drop his objections to the sale of the Thompson Center — and agree to “maximum zoning” on the site — if Gov. Bruce Rauner would sign off on Emanuel’s plan to save two of four city pension funds “as a show of good faith.”

According to a top mayoral aide, the governor nixed the deal, infuriating City Hall.

“It’s very clear you have a governor who can’t even say yes, even to things that he wants,” said an Emanuel aide, who asked to remain anonymous.

“An education bill that gives him 90 percent of what he wants and they say no. They say, ‘We want to get the Thompson Center sold. Here’s what we need.’ We say, fine, but as a show of good faith that you know how to cut a deal, sign the Municipal and Laborers bill. This is a governor who doesn’t know how to say yes even when he’s offered something he wants.”

The Rauner administration said Thursday the city’s offer wasn’t a “fair trade,” and they issued a counter-offer to instead encourage Senate Democrats to send over a gun bill that has been held since it was passed by both chambers last month.

The administration said sending over the gun bill would be a show of “good faith” and would benefit the city. The city said they’d get back to the Rauner administration about their offer.

Last month, Emanuel said he was holding up Rauner’s plan to sell the Thompson Center because he was not about to “stick Chicago taxpayers” with the $100 million tab to rebuild the busy CTA station there.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has pegged the cost to rebuild the Clark/Lake CTA station, a multi-level transit hub integrated with the Thompson Center, at $80 million to $120 million. | Sun-Times photo

The mayor noted then that the Thompson Center station is “one of the busiest stations in the entire network of 140-plus L stations.” That begged the question: “If you sell it and it has to come down, who builds it and who takes the cost?”

“The developer or the state has to do it,” the mayor said.

A few days later, Rauner pointed the finger back at his old friend Emanuel and House Speaker Michael Madigan for a “tag team effort” to block a sale the governor called “a home run” for taxpayers.

Upping the ante in the ongoing spat, Republican leaders filed a bill that would send property tax revenue from the redevelopment of the Loop site directly to Chicago Public Schools.

At the time, Emanuel dismissed the governor’s offer to the nearly bankrupt school system as a “political stunt … from the same person who vetoed” a bill that promised $215 million in pension help already built into the CPS budget.

Contributing: Tina Sfondeles

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