Last week, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel expressed his disapproval for Governor Pat Quinn’s choice for the state’s stadium authority. Quinn handpicked Kelly Kraft, a former TV reporter, to serve as Executive Director. The post would require Kraft to not only manage the same body that runs US Cellular Field, but also to oversee a much-needed Wrigley Field renovation that was halted by the Mayor this past July. This latest disagreement is the most recent example of dysfunction in Illinois politics, as the feud mounts between Emanuel and Quinn.
Emanuel feels that Kraft is unqualified for the position:
“That board and that staff is the thin blue line between protecting the taxpayers of the city of Chicago from paying, in case there’s something mismanaged. And I think we should find the best-qualified people for that, which is why I — given the board I inherited — replaced them, put in place a whole new board with backgrounds in financial management, and expect the staff to meet that standard.”
Kraft’s history of filing for personal bankruptcy in September of 2009 has also raised concerns of her ability to handle finances related to her position.
Quinn has denounced Emanuel’s criticism, attributing it to “character assassination.” He has also stated that Emanuel’s objection is fueled by the Mayor’s need to hatch a “backdoor deal” for the Wrigley Field renovation. Kraft, according to Quinn, would not be a willing participant in any “backdoor” deals, as he told the Chicago Sun-Times:
“I’ve said over and over again I don’t think public money should be abused with respect to private stadiums. Kelly Kraft is a strong woman who knows how to say ‘no’ to proposals that are not in the public interest. That’s what the position entails: a person who knows the financials, knows the bond world and is able to prevent backroom deals.”
The tension between Emanuel and Quinn has been evident ever since the Governor vetoed an Illinois casino plan that was heavily supported by the Mayor. Quinn alluded to “backdoor politics” as one of his main reasons for the casino plan veto.
Emanuel has denied that his objection of Kraft is an attempt at revenge, “This is all about protecting the taxpayers…It’s not about personalities.”