Maybe that much-mocked NATO video was right. Maybe Chicago really is the capital of Illinois.
Most of the state’s business seems to get done inside the James R. Thompson Center, the ugliest state capitol in the U.S.
Gov. Pat Quinn spent only 68 days in Springfield between March 2011 and March 2012 -- less than 20 percent of his time, according to an investigation by Champaign TV station WCIA.
Chicago governors neglecting the governor’s mansion is a sore point with Downstaters who are already sore about the fact that their votes for Bill Brady were overwhelmed by Chicago’s votes for Quinn. Having lost power to influence Illinois politics, Downstate at least wants respect from Chicago.
Rod Blagojevich was a notoriously neglectful tenant, flying home to Chicago nearly every night to spend time with his daughters, who go to school here.
When Quinn took over, he promised to be different.
"It’s the people’s house," he told a press conference at the beginning of his governorship. "It belongs to the people of Illinois. They want their governor to live there."
But an examination of Quinn’s schedule found he spent only 40 nights in the mansion, which costs $500,000 a maintain. On two occasions, he flew home to Chicago for the night, then flew back Downstate the next morning. In fact, he spent more nights out of state than he did in the capital.
The Governor's Mansion is the people's hotel.
Former governor Jim Edgar, who lived full time in the mansion, told WCIA that he thinks Quinn spends more time in Springfield than Blagojevich did, but that it’s important the governor spend time in the mansion.
"It might be not the same level as the White House," Edgar said, "but it’s our equivalent here in Illinois."