A little more than a year after the state of Illinois agreed to $110 million in incentives to keep Motorola Mobility Inc. in Libertyville, the news broke Thursday that the mobile phone maker is moving its headquarters and employees to Chicago.
It’s an odd way, we must say, of staying in Libertyville.
Business is, of course, business, and politics is politics, but it would be good if everyone involved could be a little more transparent and straightforward.
We recognize that the response to these kinds of things inevitably is colored by vested interests. Admittedly, when Sears moved its headquarters out of Chicago and what is now the Willis Tower to Hoffman Estates two decades ago, we celebrated the news much as the Chicago Tribune’s gushing account Friday of the “160 years of local history” between Motorola and the Merchandise Mart revealed Colonel Tribune’s true hometown allegiances.
But there are a couple of fair-play differences here.
First, in the early 1990s, there clearly was a bidding war between several states over Sears. The likelihood of Sears staying in the Loop back then was almost nonexistent. The question was whether it was going to stay in Illinois. With Motorola Mobility, the threat from outside the state’s borders effectively ended last year when the company agreed to the state’s incentive package.
Second, in the early 1990s, the negotiations were on the up and up. When Sears announced it was heading to Hoffman Estates, it didn’t come as a surprise to Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley.
But today, Gov. Pat Quinn and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel play by a different set of rules. This isn’t the first time Emanuel has raided suburban business with no significant attempt to forge any sort of regional partnership.
And while we appreciate Quinn’s efforts and relative success at keeping Illinois businesses in Illinois, his favoritism toward Chicago at the expense of the suburbs, at least in this case, is clear.
Though he was under no obligation to do so, Quinn signed off on the agreement to transfer Motorola Mobility’s incentive package to its move to Chicago.
And the thing is, that didn’t happen five minutes before the deal was announced. Yet, suburban officials were kept largely in the dark until the deal was done.
“Nobody had the guts to tell us,” said Lake County Board Chairman David Stolman.
Or, as state Rep. Ed Sullivan of Mundelein said, Quinn “was nowhere to be heard of when he stabbed Libertyville in the back.”
Meanwhile, on Thursday, Quinn tried to soothe hurt feelings by promising to work with Libertyville and Lake County to attract a new company to the Motorola Mobility campus.
A nice thought. We suspect the governor actually means it.
The proof, as they say, will be in the pudding.Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.