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In 1989 as a maverick lawyer, he even led a futile fight to keep Joe Berrios and Wilson Frost—then on the Cook County Board of Tax Appeals—from giving a big property tax break to the owners of the Sears Tower.
Talk about no-shot campaigns.
Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, Quinn lost that maverick voice—probably after he got elected as Rod Blagojevich's lieutenant governor.
Apparently it's back with a vengeance—as evidence by his Columbus Day fusillade, where he called Mayor Rahm Emanuel a backstabbing, two-timing, weasel, mother . . .
Well, my words not his.
The specific issue is what's going on at the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, one of those low-profile governmental operations that most Chicagoans know nothing about.
Which is not surprising, since most Chicagoans blissfully go through life knowing nothing about anything.
In a nutshell, the authority spends public money building sports arenas that the public doesn't need and can't afford. How's that for a mission statement?
Generally, the governor gets to name the authority's executive director. In this case, Quinn wants to appoint Kelly Kraft, his communications chief.
Mayor Emanuel says Kraft's not qualified for the position, which is really funny since in most instances the only qualification the mayor requires of appointees is the ability to say "Coming right up, boss."
Governor Quinn says Emanuel doesn't want Kelly because she'd block the mayor's attempts to dole out tens of millions of public dollars to the Cubs so they can renovate Wrigley Field.
Instead of just telling the Cubs to pay for the renovations themselves. As he would if you or I said, "Yo, Rahm, gimme some cash so I can renovate my garage!"
As we all know, the only thing that's kept the mayor from giving the Cubs their cash is the revelation that Joe Ricketts, the far-right patriarch of the clan that owns the Cubs, was considering spending millions on an outrageous advertising campaign against President Obama's reelection.
One more time: Thank you, Joe Ricketts!
The Cubs say they absolutely, positively need the handout or they won't be able to renovate Wrigley, and if they can't renovate Wrigley they won't make the money they need to field a competitive team.
So now they're blaming 100-some years of boneheaded mismanagement on the taxpayers.
Did I mention that they lost 101 games this year?
This reminds me of the time back in 2001 when Quinn—again before he was lieutenant governor—led the successful fight to keep Mayor Daley and the Chicago Bears from renaming Soldier Field.
If you recall, Mayor Daley and the Bears said they absolutely, positively had to sell naming rights to the highest corporate bidder in order to raise the cash without which Soldier Field could not be rebuilt.
To which Quinn basically responded: So what. If you can't rebuild Soldier Field without desecrating the memory of veterans for whom it's named, don't rebuild it at all.
To ante up the pressure, Quinn started gathering signatures for a referendum on the issue.
Guess what happened?
The Bears and the mayors magically figured out a way to rebuild Soldier Field without selling the naming rights. Funny how that happened.
Thanks for taking a stand, Governor Quinn. Here's hoping you're as successful in this fight as you were with Soldier Field.