• Greg Hinz On Politics
  • Greg Hinz On Politics

    Battle over new McPier chief turns nasty

    Gov. Pritzker defends?his candidate for the big convention job amid jostling with Mayor Lightfoot over who should run McCormick Place.

    McCormick Place

    McCormick Place

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    A high-level dispute over who should lead the agency that runs McCormick Place has taken an unusual turn, with Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office forced to publicly come to the defense of the woman he’d like to take the job.

    In a statement, Emily Bittner, Pritzker’s communications chief, said she normally “wouldn’t be talking about this process”—finding a successor to Lori Healey, who left the agency known as McPier last year for a private-sector job. “But because someone decided to launch an oppo hit...”

    79彩票注册网址Bittner was referring to a saying that Larita Reed-Clark, acting CEO of McPier and someone Pritzker backs to get the job full time, actually lives in Indiana.

    Reed-Clark was born in Chicago, raised in West Garfield Park, graduated from Austin High School and Loyola and Northwestern universities and moved to the Indiana side of the metropolitan area after her late husband accepted a job there, Bittner said, adding that Reed-Clark has stayed there to raise her children in their existing support network.

    “For the past 35 years, she has provided leadership and financial management” in a range of top jobs at McPier, the statement said. “The administration is proud to ask the MPEA board to consider a highly qualified African American woman,” and Reed-Clark will move to Illinois if she gets the job.

    The statement did not discuss who launched the “oppo hit.” But the mayor and governor have been jostling for months over who to pick to succeed Healey, with McPier board Chairman Brett Hart also expected to leave soon.

    Lightfoot wants DePaul University CFO Jeff Bethke, but Pritzker’s allies say he has little experience running or attracting the trade shows and conventions that constitute McCormick Place’s business. In turn, the mayor has frowned on some other names pushed by Pritzker, such as Chicago Public Schools COO Arnie Rivera.

    Knowledgeable sources say a four- or five-member McPier board subcommittee is about to start interviewing candidates in hopes of reaching a decision. But a final selection will depend on the mayor and governor reaching some sort of agreement, since they split control over the agency.

    The standoff has begun to raise some concerns, given the importance to Chicago’s hotel and hospitality industries of smooth operation of the convention center.

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    5:20 P.M. UPDATE:

    79彩票注册网址Lightfoot’s office is out with a statement.  It flatly denies there is any dispute with Pritzker, and blames “vicious journalism”  for any impression to the opposite.

    79彩票注册网址From the statement,  “There is no space on this issue between our office and the governor’s office. We all want the same thing, which is to choose the best possible leader to take MPEA into an even brighter and more successful future, which will be to the great benefit of our city, our region, and our entire state. It is unseemly for someone to have conducted such a hit job on a woman who has worked her way up over the course of 30-plus years to where she is today, and after she moved closer to her family following the tragic death of her husband.”

    It concludes, “This kind of vicious journalism has got to stop.”

    Got that?

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