Quinn, Emanuel meet for 1st time since election

Rahm Emanuel (left) and Pat Quinn (right) are seen in ABC 7 file photos.

March 18, 2011 3:22:15 PM PDT
Governor Pat Quinn and Chicago Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel got together Friday afternoon for their first formal meeting. Both men say they will work together to better both the city and the state.

They have a lot to talk about, but not a lot of money to spend.

Budget problems are the overriding concern for both the head of the state and the incoming mayor.

Outgoing Mayor Richard M. Daley has had good relationships with the last several governors, overcoming the traditional rift between the city and downstate politicians. Emanuel hopes to continue that.

They walked out of a meeting room in Governor Quinn's Thompson Center office talking like old friends. And, indeed, the governor says he and Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel have known each other for more than 30 years. He says he expects they will work well together.

"We had a real nice chat, an opportunity to visit after the mayoral campaign, and we have lots of things we're gonna do in the coming years, the years to come, and I really look forward to working with you, Rahm," Quinn said afterwards.

It was their first formal meeting since Emanuel's election more than a month ago. And, though they declined to talk specifics, the difficult economic climate gives their discussions a greater sense of urgency.

"Getting our economy moving, getting the type of investments we need, both for education, for job growth, and for the types of reforms that are necessary to make sure our state stays competitive," said Emanuel.

There are a number of pressing issues the governor and the mayor will be working on. Among them is O'Hare Airport. Now that the airlines have agreed to allow construction of the new south runway, the city will want to move forward with construction of an extended Elgin-O'Hare expressway and other new access roads.

The mayor-elect has said he supports a casino to help raise revenue in Chicago, something House Speaker Mike Madigan has opposed.

And, some Republicans have talked about budget cuts, including education. Emanuel, as head of the state's largest school district, is looking to increase funding.

And then there is the Cubs, who want to take a small portion of the entertainment tax on tickets to fund improvements to Wrigley Field. The mayor-elect, a Cubs fan, and the governor, a Sox fan, have both expressed interest but is far from a done deal. Both, however, give the impression they will be able to work together on any number of issues.

"We talked about where we can form a very strong alliance to make sure that we are pushing our city and our state forward and tackling the issues that affect our respective constituents," said Emanuel.

"We have lots of energy, lots of ideas, lots of idealism, and we're gonna apply all over the aforementioned to helping the common good," Quinn said.

Their meeting Friday afternoon lasted about an hour. Aside from their brief statements, they both declined to answer questions from reporters afterward.

Emanuel did point out, however, that time is of the essence, because after he takes office in May there will be only a couple weeks left in the current legislative session.