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Editorial: Quit fighting, make a deal

Kelly Kraft Gov. PQuinn's former assistant budget director current communications chief is his choice head Illinois Sport Facilities Authority. He

Kelly Kraft, Gov. Pat Quinn's former assistant budget director and current communications chief, is his choice to head the Illinois Sport Facilities Authority. He accuses Mayor Rahm Emanuel of smearing her to block the appointment. | Photo from YouTube

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Updated: November 16, 2012 6:14AM

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Gov. Pat Quinn need a standing date night.

At the very first one, they should quietly agree on the next executive director for the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority.

What they’re doing now — duking it out in public while dragging Quinn’s choice through the mud — isn’t working. It’s bad for the public agency that owns and runs U.S. Cellular Field; bad for Quinn’s pick to run it, and bad for the relationship between these two men.

The state’s top two Democrats have much bigger fish to fry, namely pushing pension reform through the Legislature. Now is the time for a unified front, not destructive squabbling.

It’s impossible to truly suss out what this public fight is about. Is it about who’s in charge? Is it about Wrigley Field? Is it about who is the best person to run an agency in need of a strong leader?

What we do know is that the public fighting needs to stop.

In the public agency’s 25-year history, the appointment has been made at times by the governor, at times by the mayor, at times together. At this point, agreeing on a choice seems like the only choice.

Should it be Kelly Kraft, the governor’s pick and his spokeswoman? Emanuel doesn’t want her, with some justification. But Emanuel’s very public opposition is unfair to Kraft, who has a fine reputation. It’s also ruthless, part of what’s becoming a pattern in which Emanuel throws decent public officials to the wolves, sullying their reputation.

That said, we don’t think Kraft is right for the job. A former TV reporter, she worked as deputy budget director before becoming communications chief.

The sports authority’s main function is to run U.S. Cellular Field, overseeing maintenance, renovations and contracts, said former Gov. Jim Thompson, a former IFSA board chair who put the stadium deal together as governor. Marketing the Cell for use outside the season is also part of the job.

Ideally, the director should know all those areas: construction, facilities management, finance and sports management.

It’s true that previous directors have not.

But that may be one reason the authority hasn’t done a better job protecting the state’s lowly taxpayers.

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