Tag: land sale

My thoughts about Bruce Rauner’s plan to sell the Thompson Center

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.

Wisconsin Republicans pass awful state budget, and how legislators should handle criticism of their legislative proposals

The Republican-controlled Wisconsin State Assembly passed the most awful state budget in American political history in a 52-46 vote, and the budget is currently on Republican Wisconsin Governor and presidential candidate Scott Walker’s desk.

When I say that the Wisconsin budget that the Republicans passed is the most awful state budget in American political history, it’s not hyperbole, it’s the cold hard truth. The Wisconsin budget, among many other things, demonizes the working poor in Wisconsin by replacing the words “living wage” with the words “minimum wage” in state statutes, fast-tracks an expansion of a tar sands oil pipeline in Wisconsin and Illinois that will be even bigger than the Keystone XL pipeline would be, cuts funding to public K-12 and higher education in Wisconsin, effectively prohibits Wisconsin wineries from hosting weddings, and gives Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele even more unchecked power to sell off public property in Wisconsin’s largest county to his political cronies. This budget does a lot to pander to far-right voters that Scott Walker is trying to win over in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination and does virtually nothing to benefit the people of Wisconsin in any way. You can read press releases from Democratic Wisconsin State Representatives Melissa Sargent of Madison, Dianne Hesselbein of Middleton, Amanda Stuck of Appleton, LaTonya Johnson of Milwaukee, and Andy Jorgensen of Milton, as well as from Minority Leader Peter Barca of Kenosha, at the links in this sentence.

However, prior to the Republicans in the Assembly passing the state budget, Katrina Shankland, the Assistant Minority Leader of the Wisconsin State Assembly from Stevens Point, tried to amend the state budget to require that future proposals of non-fiscal policy measures in future state budgets get their own separate public hearing before a standing legislative committee (the Republicans rejected Shankland’s amendment). I criticized Shankland’s proposal, because it would not outright prohibit Walker or whoever else is Wisconsin Governor once Walker leaves office from proposing public policy in state budgets. Shankland responded to my criticism of her proposal via Twitter:

Anyone who holds political office, is running for public office, or is thinking about running for public office should take note of Shankland’s response to my criticism of her. She didn’t talk down to me, she didn’t belittle me, she didn’t attack me, and she didn’t try to change the subject. Instead, she directly addressed my criticism of her proposal by saying that she thinks that policy measures don’t belong in state budgets, and she defended her proposal by saying that the Republicans voted against allowing public hearings on policy proposals.

Katrina Shankland has been very respectful to me, even when I’ve disagreed with her, which isn’t often.