Madigan calls Rauner ‘disingenuous’ over sale of Thompson Center

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A day after Gov. Bruce Rauner accused Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan of holding up a plan to put a toll lane on the Stevenson Expressway, the speaker sent a letter to the governor calling it “disingenuous” and “beneath” the governor’s office to blame him for holding up the sale of the Thompson Center.

While Rauner has publicly pointed the finger at the speaker in recent weeks, Madigan has been out of the public spotlight — instead issuing statements to the media.

The governor has been pushing for a sale of the Thompson Center since he took office, and putting it on the block appeared to be a rare point of agreement between the two.

But in the letter, Madigan writes that his aides met with staff from the Illinois Department of Central Management Services on Monday about the sale of the building — with both staffs determining legislation proposed by Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin “inadvertently” interfered with the zoning authority of the city of Chicago. Madigan writes that Rauner’s staff admitted legislation isn’t ready to move forward.

“Around the same time as this productive meeting, you stated publicly that I have held up the sale of the Thompson Center and that reporters should ask me why I’ve been blocking progress on this part of your agenda,” Madigan writes. “With all due respect, I believe it is disingenuous of you and beneath your office to make such false statements to the media when you know or should have known that I have pledged my cooperation, that our staffs are working together on this initiative, and that we are working toward the same goal with your administration in good faith.”

Rauner on Monday accused Madigan of holding up the sale of the Thompson Center at a press conference in McCook, while also saying the speaker is blocking his proposed plan for a managed lane on the Stevenson Expressway. The speaker on Monday issued a statement that he’s concerned about private investors being involved in the project, while also taking a dig at Rauner.

“Our concern with private investors being involved in a toll lane is that, once again, it seems as though Governor Rauner is more interested in helping his wealthy friends,” Madigan said.

“Have you ever read baloney before?” Rauner said when asked about the speaker’s response on Monday.

Madigan writes in the letter that he’ll continue to work with CMS on issues related to the CTA station, as well as zoning issues, adding “it is these discussions that have led to the stalling of the legislation, not my actions or the actions of the House.”

“Despite your ability to provide an accurate account of the facts or acknowledge my public and private comments, my staff will continue working cooperatively with your staff and CMS to develop a plan to maximize the ability of the state to sell the property, with a goal of passing legislation no later than May 31st,” Madigan writes.

In announcing his intention to sell the Thompson Center in February, Rauner estimated a private development might put “$40 million, $50 million, maybe more” into the city’s coffers, and the site could be sold for as much as $220 million.


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