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The Demolition Man . . .

Former Gov. Big Jim Thompson has a beef.

But it’s not with Gov. Bruce Rauner, who just announced plans to close and sell Thompson’s namesake all-glass building — the James R. Thompson Center at 100 W. Randolph St.

Whatever way you slice it, Thompson’s beef is primarily with former Gov. Pat Quinn.

“The reason this is happening is because Gov. Quinn let the building go the same way he let the governor’s mansion go, by refusing to spend money on either building,” Thompson told Sneed.

“That’s the situation Gov. Rauner is now facing,” said a calm, but obviously disappointed, former governor.

“During Quinn’s entire term in office he refused to maintain the building properly,” added Thompson. “Gov. Rauner is now faced with an accumulation of $100 million in deferred maintenance.”

OPINION


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Although an attempt to contact Quinn was not successful, it’s not a secret he faced a state budget nightmare during his tenure in office.

According to a close friend of Quinn’s, ”With the budget mess that he inherited, Quinn had different priorities when he was in office. When there’s no money, you prioritize with what you’ve got. He chose to protect the state’s most vulnerable citizens over buying new carpet and furniture in the governor’s office.”

A for-sale sign on the Thompson Center, also known as the State of Illinois building — which houses about 2,000 state workers — could also mean demolition of a building designed by renowned architect Helmut Jahn, who is also upset the award-winning structure was poorly maintained.

The Dubuffet sculpture, which is located in front of the building on Randolph Street, will probably be relocated. “I presume whomever buys the building will also take the sculpture,” Thompson said.

“Look, I’m not going to comment on Rauner’s decision . . . except to say, he is the governor and he is facing a situation and it is up to him and the Legislature to make decisions,” said Thompson.

“I was really honored when Gov. [Jim] Edgar named the building after me. It was a great building. It won awards. But this is not a personal issue. The building does not belong to me. It belongs to the people of Illinois. So I don’t have a personal reaction to Gov. Rauner’s decision,” he said.

The Thompson Center was once described as a downtown behemoth with a history of heating and cooling problems. Thompson insisted: “That was fixed long ago.”

Thompson also claims he tried to inform Gov. Quinn the commercial tenant of the building on the first two floors offered to pay “for restoration of that space himself, but I could never get an answer from Quinn!”

The last governor to pay the maintenance bill for the state offices was former Gov. George Ryan, who also happens to be a Republican, according to Thompson, who admitted Ryan’s successor, Gov. Rod Blagojevich — also refused to pick up the tab.

Ah, politics. Isn’t it fun?

Cubbie sitings . . .

Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, a huge Cubs fan, was spotted wearing a Cubs cap in Cubs general manager Theo Epstein’s box at the game Tuesday night. . . . Actor John Cusack, a Chicago native soon to appear in director Spike Lee’s film “Chiraq,” sat next to Cubs owner Tom Ricketts in the first row at Wrigley Field on Tuesday night. . . . Mayor Rahm Emanuel pulling a two-nighter watching the Cubs from a prime seat. Natch.

I Spy . . .

The Three Cubbie amigos: Pitcher Jon Lester, the $26 million man, was spotted with teammates Jason Hammel and Jason Motte chowing down on steak plus tons of veggies en familles at Chicago Cut Sunday night before the big game against the Cards on Monday night. “Lester likes to eat with his little son sitting on his knee,” said a Sneed spotter who stopped himself from asking for an autograph.

Sneedlings . . .

A sad note: The passing of Father Bob Ferrigan, the former pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Winnetka, whose funeral was held Tuesday morning. A good man. A kind man. More than a moment in so many lives. Ask Olympian Marilee Wehman; his best friend Father Bill Kenneally; his pal in parish financial advice, Tom Lanctot; Chicago Bears owner Mike McCaskey; the late Catholic theologian Henri Nouwen. So very himself. Gone, but never forever to those of us whose lives he touched. . . . Wednesday’s birthdays: Ralph Lauren, 76; Usher, 37 and Roger Moore, 88.
Follow Sneed on Twitter: @Sneedlings

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