What happened Thursday was a prodigious abuse of power by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, as well as a personal win over Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Quinn and Emanuel were in a turf battle over who will lead the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, the state agency that built U.S. Cellular Field and helped rebuild Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears.
Against Emanuel’s wishes, the ISFA board of directors voted 4 to 3 to approve the governor’s choice of former Fox Chicago television reporter-turned state of Illinois media relations director Kelly Kraft to lead the agency. The same Kelly Kraft who worked in tv her whole life until 2009. The 39-year-old is very photogenic, but a very poor choice for handling finance. Kraft can’t even keep her own financial house in order as she filed for personal bankruptcy in ’09 after running up over $109,000 in credit card debt.
And now she’s given a post with a $175,000 salary, to lead an agency with a $40 million budget? This is a George W. Bush-Mike “you’re doing a heckuva job” Brownie to head FEMA type governmental appointment. Same level of promotion without experience and qualification. This is GROSS CORRUPTION by the Governor’s office.
The mayor favored Diana Ferguson, former chief financial officer for Sara Lee Corporation and the Chicago Public Schools as well as an Emanuel appointee to the board overseeing the mayor’s Infrastructure Trust. The more qualified candidate was available, but the way Quinn sealed the deal for Kraft was extremely shady and reaks of malfeasance. He replaced attorney Manny Sanchez, who said he would have voted for the most qualified candidate, with Dr. Quentin Young, who voted for Kraft.
Sanchez said he was chosen by the governor in July 2011 to fill an unexpired term on the stadium authority board (an agency created to fund a new stadium for the Chicago White Sox back in the 1980s when the team threatened to move to St. Petersburg, FL) and expected to be re-appointed. The agency currently runs U.S. Cellular Field.
From the Chicago Sun-Times
He found out otherwise when he arrived at U.S. Cellular Field for Thursday’s meeting. Young was there to take Sanchez’s place.
“I was more than surprised. I was disappointed, discomfited, saddened. All of the above. . . . This is the first time that I’ve experienced this kind of situation,” he said.
Quinn pulled out all the stops so that he could have his own lackey on the board, and impose his individual political will on the agency. He’s concerned that Emanuel will utilize IFSA to fund the Wrigley Field renovation and that the mayor will cut a deal on a new home for the Chicago Cubs that will leave the Governor out.
Just another day of Illinois/Chicago politics.
Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports
A Fulbright scholar and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; he’s also a member of the Football Writers Association of America, U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and Society of Professional Journalists. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too.