Republican Governor Bruce Rauner of Illinois has announced that he wants to sell off the Thompson Center, a large state government office building in Chicago.
As a downstater and an advocate for good government, I have mixed thoughts about this idea.
First off, I don’t think that any state government agencies should be headquartered in Chicago, as Chicago is not the Illinois state capital. Springfield, located in Sangamon County in the central part of the state, is the state capital, and all state government agencies should be headquartered there. Unless one can justify having numerous Chicago branch offices of state government agencies in one building, a building like the Thompson Center serves no valid purpose, in my opinion.
Secondly, I fear that Rauner will screw over Chicago, Cook County, and/or Illinois taxpayers by selling the Thompson Center to a political crony of his for considerably less than market value. Remember that Rauner received tons of campaign contributions from wealthy businesspeople, and they want their payoffs from the Rauner. Ideally, there should be a citizens’ buildings and grounds commission consisting of 4-6 members without any connections to elected officials and/or the business community in Illinois, which would be responsible for selling state property and approving any redevelopment of state property for public and/or private use. However, we currently don’t have anything like that in Illinois, which is a damn shame.