Gov. Pat Quinn is accusing Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel of character assassination for questioning the qualifications of the governor's pick to lead the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority board.
Emanuel has suggested the board, which operates U.S. Cellular Field, should start over in its search for a new executive director. Quinn wants his chief spokeswoman, Kelly Kraft, to get the job.
The mayor has publicly questioned Kraft's financial expertise amid reports she filed for bankruptcy in 2009. But it should be noted that Emanuel kept Cheryl Hyman on to lead the Chicago City Colleges despite her 2000 bankruptcy filing.
"This is a strong woman who knows how to get things done for the public, who understands what sunshine is all about to make sure that there's transparency in government and openness, to make sure there's economy and efficiency, and running her down by anybody is just plain wrong," Quinn said of Kraft Tuesday.
Some political insiders believe the mayor is upset the governor won't sign off on a Chicago casino and said Emanuel is trashing his choice to lead the IFSA as payback.
"Not true," said Emanuel when asked if he was strategically blocking Kraft's appointment.
Quinn alleges the mayor and his staffers are working on a "backroom deal" to renovate Wrigley Field and use the Sports Facilities Authority to help the Cubs.
"I'm, frankly, skeptical of using any public money to repair a private sport stadium," said Quinn.
But Emanuel said his aversion to Kraft's appointment is about protecting Chicago taxpayers.
"It's not about personalities. It's not about differences. It's about a view about the Illinois Sports Authority, the taxpayers of the city of Chicago are on the hook if it runs amiss," he said.
Emanuel has recommended three names he says have the financial management skills needed to protect the public, who he said are on the hook for bonds the agency issued to build the home of the White Sox and renovate Soldier Field.
Emanuel has shown interest in a Wrigley renovation in the past. In April, Emanuel proposed a plan that would relax the landmark status of the field, paving the way for up to $150 million in new sponsorship and advertising.
The plan would be similar to one implemented at Boston's Fenway Park. It boils down to more advertising at the field, possibly billboards and a Jumbotron, and closing Waveland and Sheffield for street festivals during every home game. The proposal also includes more concerts, football games and possibly more night games.