Show Us the Thomson Money, Pat

Prison debate shifts to dollars

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Pat Quinn.

    Now that the Gitmo detainees are surely coming, the debate about Thomson Correctional Center in Northwest Illinois is about the money - namely if Gov. Pat Quinn will drive a hard enough bargain.

    “We deserve a premium for bailing out the Obama administration,” Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) said Wednesday.

    Quinn has said the state should get at least $145 million in the sale of the prison to the federal government. Radogno says that's at least $100 million short.

    "That number is extremely low," Radogno said. "Not only does Illinois get stuck with the terrorists, we get stuck with a big bill."

    The state will have to review three independent appraisals before making a deal.

    But Radogno says the final sale price should include not just the current value of the facility, but cover mortgage payments and construction costs since the never-opened prison was finished in 2001.

    Radogno's concerns may be misplaced considering the way the Obama administration has opened the spending spigot, but Quinn is sure to face public pressure to wring every last penny out of Washington.

    Perhaps the bigger question will be how to spend the money once it arrives. Quinn has already said - though it boggles the mind - that state legislators would have dibs on how the money is spent, according to Illinois Statehouse News.

    Why Quinn would concede the pleasure of deciding such a thing is puzzling; he doesn't appear to need their consent to make the deal happen.

    A legislative commission is scheduled to meet on Tuesday in Sterling to discuss the pending sale.

    Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review.