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Sneed: Rauners perking up governor's mansion

Workers outside the Illinois Executive Mansion last year in Springfield. | Seth Perlman/AP

The governor’s pile . . .

Pssst! The aging pile of bricks known as the Executive Mansion in Springfield is in the first phase of a new facelift.

Sneed is told, however, first lady Diana Rauner is insistent the money not be spent on the governor’s private quarters until the public rooms of the mansion are repaired first.


“Mrs. Rauner is calling the mansion ‘The People’s House,’ and she wants the public to use it,” said Andy Van Meter, who is part of the mansion’s new renovation committee.

“And even though the Lincoln Bedroom has been vacated due to water from a leaky roof — and President Abraham Lincoln’s bed moved out until repairs are made — the first order of business will be repairing the roof of the 160-year-old brick house.

“Every time it rains, shingles fall off the roof . . . and it’s been patched at least a dozen times in recent memory,” he said.

“It could cost $1 million to fix the roof,” added Van Meter, whose mother’s name once adorned the mansion’s ballroom.


Efforts to raise $8.8 million for mansion work

“Gov. Edgar originally named the ballroom after my mother, Margaret, who was a member of the mansion’s preservation committee for 30 years.

“But it was removed during the Blagojevich era. Times change,” he chuckled.

A kickoff cocktail party to start the renovation process will be held Wednesday night at the mansion hosted by Gov. Bruce Rauner and wife Diana and attended by two former GOP governors, Jim Thompson and Jim Edgar. Hundreds have been invited.

The restoration process is expected to cost $8.8 million. “That’s the figure the Capital Development Board gave us in renovation price,” said Van Meter.

“But Mrs. Rauner wants it historically correct, so she has hired someone to advise us on getting it right . . . so it could be much more . . . but it will all be privately funded,” said Van Meter.

“People are really using the building again thanks to the Rauners,” he said.

“Breakfast meetings with legislators are held almost daily, and legislators attend frequent dinner meetings. It is again becoming part of the political process. Standards are being raised. The food is better.

“The whole town can’t believe it. . . . The Rauners are really involved. Gov. Rauner shows up for basketball games and football games and things are going on at the mansion almost every day the Legislature is in session,” he said.

Sneed hears the old mansion microwave in the governor’s private mini-kitchen — which was once used by former Gov. George Ryan and wife Lura Lynn — as well as former Gov. Pat Quinn — has reportedly been chucked.


Hillaryville . . .

Hmmm. If Dem presidential contender Hillary Clinton wears a pearl necklace when she hits town this week for a few fundraisers, will it be the one Mayor Rahm Emanuel once bought her?

• Translation: It’s no secret the Emanuels and the Clintons are this/close, but when former President Bill Clinton was in town a few years back, Rahm dispatched wife Amy to buy jewelry — on behalf of Bill — for Hillary at a Kate Spade store because he knew it was their 36th wedding anniversary.

• To wit: The gift was accompanied by a note: “I know how you like to buy the missus a gift from the last town you are in before you head home for dinner. I knew you wouldn’t have time so we bought this for you,” said Rahm.

The Palin file . . .

Conservative czarina Sarah Palin, 51, has been busy on Facebook.

Apparently her daughter, Bristol, 24, and her fiance Dakota Meyer, 26, who were engaged in March, have called off their wedding.

In a Facebook post Monday, Palin stated: “They have informed loved ones that unfortunately the announced celebration planned for May 23 will not be held,” but the families are still planning to party in Kentucky where the wedding was to be held “to celebrate life in general.”

Aren’t those Palins a kick?

Sneedlings . . .

Wednesday’s birthdays: Cher, 69; Tony Goldwyn, 55, and Ron Reagan Jr., 57.