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Architect: Quinn's Comments Are "Out Of Line"

Amanda Vinicky

  The architect of the Illinois Capitol is swinging back at Governor Pat Quinn's accusations that he's responsible for controversial purchases, like $670-thousand dollar copper doors for the Statehouse.

Construction crews spent years renovating the state Capitol's west wing, but its unveiling has been tarnished by reports of what the rehab included, like doors that are as expensive as a large home and chandeliers that rang up to $320,000.

Earlier this week, Gov. Pat Quinn pinning the blame on architect Richard Alsop, saying he needs to be "reined in." Alsop says that's "completely unfair."

"I don't know why he made the statements that he made but I think they were unwarranted and completely out of line," Alsop says.

He says his office is not solely responsible: that a separate construction board -- the Capital Development Board, which is under Quinn's jurisdiction -- signs off on projects.

Dave Blanchette, a spokesman for the governor,  says spending decisions ultimately rested with Alsop.

Credit Amanda Vinicky
Members of the Office of the Architect of the Capitol Board were appointed by the General Assembly's four leaders: (L-R) Brad Bolin represents House Republicans, Scott Kaiser represents Senate Republicans, Tim Anderson is Chief of Staff to Democratic Senate President John Cullerton and Tim Mapes is Chief of Staff to Democratic House Speaker Mike Madigan. Their attention is directed at the capital's architect, Richard Alsop.

But Alsop reports to the Office of the Architect of the Capitol Board, a boardwhose members are high-level confidants of the House speaker, Senate president, and minority leaders. Quinn spokesman's had no response when asked if those legislative leaders should be held responsible.

The $50 million renovation of the capitol's west wing included demolishing the mezzanine floor, which had previously housed the statehouse press corps, including WUIS's statehouse bureau. Journalists are scheduled to move into rent-free offices in the basement of the capitol in late September.

At the OAC board meeting, members noted that work is being done -- in part to benefit reporters -- to ensure that there is improved cell phone service in the basement. Alsop says that work will also improve the Secretary of State police's radio reception.

Amanda Vinicky moved to Chicago Tonight on WTTW-TV PBS in 2017.
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