Claiming to be a political outsider, Bruce Rauner, candidate for Illinois Governor, was a prime mover in protecting former Navy Pier employees who had mismanaged the Metropolitan Pier & Exposition Authority (McCormick Place and Navy Pier).
In just three years, from 2006 to 2009, MPEA's annual deficit doubled from $287.8 Million to $556.4 Million. Public scrutiny and pressure in the Chicago press, coupled with exhibitors threatening to move trade shows out of Chicago forced Madigan to take drastic steps to protect the patronage army securely entrenched at MPEA.
In an unprecedented display bi-partisan support, and in just 3 months time, the Illinois Legislature and Governor Patrick Quinn forcibly removed the MPEA board, appointed an interim board and plotted to split out the management of Navy Pier from MPEA.
Note that the Illinois Legislature is typically disjointed. Pension Reform legislation has taken years to obtain approval. Illinois' bond rating has been downgraded in the interim. Gambling expansion has not yet been embraced by the Governor.
Yet, lightning speed and a full court press moved this issue on an accelerated track.
What precipitated this drastic move to change the status quo?
For years, the only way to secure a job at MPEA was via a patronage recommendation. The Human Resources process was corrupt. The hiring process was rigged. A subjective evaluation process insured hiring the political hack over better qualified candidates. Nobody, Nobody sent ever was hired.
Back door hiring practices enabled "part time" employees to start working at MPEA in other jobs who were then moved into higher paying salaried jobs that resulted in 58 people earning over $100,000 annual salaries at taxpayer expense.
Information obtained via FOIA indicated that job titles and compensation did not follow logic. An organization chart simply could not be tabulated. But, the public, unaware of the shenanigans of the anointed few, kept funding the annual shortfall.
And who directly sponsored each and every Illinois House bill to fund MPEA? Speaker Mike Madigan.
THE PLOT TO STEAL $1 BILLION IN TAXPAYER FUNDS
In preparation to protect these patronage workers, on Nov. 3, 2009 MPEA hired the Urban Land Institute ("ULI") on a sole source $120,000 contract that then mushroomed to $180,000 (with an addendum to the contract dated Aug. 12, 2010). The ULI report setup a framework to create a "not for profit" entity to manage Navy Pier.
On March 19, 2010, MPEA issued a press release welcoming new board members: John Gates and Peter J. O'Brien (who were removed from the MPEA board), Anita M. Cummings, Sheila O'Grady, Andre Rice and Bruce Rauner.
The interim MPEA board was mandated by the Illinois Legislature and Governor after forcibly removed the existing 50/50 Mayor/Governor politically appointed MPEA board. Rauner was specifically slotted into this position by Mayor Daley because of his financial acumen under the guise of saving taxpayer funds and saving convention business.
The MPEA Interim Board first met on April 6, 2010. Their recommendations were made on April 21, 2010, just fifteen days later!
Instead, the interim board members issued an Interim Board Report comprising 145 pages on April 29, 2010 that also included the participation of Juan Ochoa, Blagojevich's political hack who directly contributed to the mismanagement of the authority.
Buried on Page 24 were these innocuous words:
FINDING: The reporting relationship between the MPEA Board and the CEO is convoluted.
Although at the present, this structure has been made to work, in the past it has led to well below
optimal leadership, decision-making, strategic thinking and execution. This could occur again in
Further, it has become evident that the business and future prospects of McCormick Place and
Navy Pier have diverged significantly. They are in fact two distinct institutions, McCormick
Place in the convention & exhibition business; and, Navy Pier focused on the retail, tourism, and
entertainment business. The divergent character of these two institutions is not adequately served by the current governing structure.
The interim board is in the process of developing a new strategic plan for Navy Pier as a major international tourist destination for Chicago. When formulated, the interim board will likely recommend a new governance structure for Navy Pier.
BRUCE RAUNER IS CERTAINLY NOT A POLITICAL OUTSIDER WHO IS SINCERE ABOUT CHANGING THE POLICY OF FRIENDS AND FAMILY IN ILLINOIS!
Rauner actively participated in diverting $1 Billion in taxpayer assets and revenue to the former employees of Navy Pier for personal gain.
Next up, the structure of corporate governance for Navy Pier as framed by the Interim Board.