Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Opinion: Let's Just Sell the State Capitol

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Earlier this year, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn responded to inaction on a $100 billion pension crisis by issuing a populist edict that the state wouldn't pay state lawmakers until they passed workable legislation. 

    Speaker of the House Michael Madigan and Senate Leader John Cullerton are suing the state for their paychecks, and many, many political watchers thought it was a dumb idea.  

    But, hey, it's entertaining, right? So why not take a similar tack on the current political imbroglio: Let's finish those $50 million renovations on the State Capitol and sell that sucker for cash money. 

    In case you're not up to speed, legislators are working themselves into a froth trying to distance themselves from a capital improvement project aimed at the Illinois State Capitol. 

    Architect J. Richard Alsop III was hired to renovate the 150+ year old, and restore it to its former glory. The price tag for the doors alone cost $670,000. 

    Quinn thinks that's probably exorbitant, according to his spokeswoman. 

    "The governor is concerned about the architect's judgment and some of his decisions," spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said Thursday. "Gov. Quinn believes that any (construction) project must always be conducted in a prudent and cost-effective manner."

    Let's just get rid of the whole kit and kaboodle. 

    Chicago already hosts the James R. Thomson Center, where Illinois Legislative Offices reside -- Quinn could just make legislators meet there to (not) work. The state would save on travel fees for the Governor, who often stays at his home in Chicago rather than the governor's mansion (come to think of it, we should sell that, too).

    It's not terribly far fetched. There's a precedent for selling state capitols. Arizona did it. Governor Jan Brewer agreed to sell her state's capitol to a private firm, and then lease the chambers from the private company. 

    Of course Arizona legislators are trying to buy it back now for $25 million more than they sold it for just four years ago. But we wouldn't make that same mistake ... right?