CHICAGO — Mayer Brown attorney Tyrone Fahner, head of an influential Chicago business group's civic arm, had strong words for the state's three most powerful politicians this week at a high-profile annual luncheon.
"Our problems are solvable but we need the governor, the Senate president and the mayor [of Chicago] to demonstrate they really are leaders," Fahner told a room filled with state and city politicians, bankers, attorneys and non-profit leaders Monday at the event, hosted by the Civic Federation of Chicago.
"We need them to remember who they claimed to be when they were running for election," he said. "As friends and as leaders, let's ask them to do their jobs and fulfill their promises to us."
Fahner made the plea at the end of a speech thanking the Civic Federation, which awarded him with the Lyman J. Gage Award for consistent demonstrated dedication to civic concerns in the Chicago area.
Fahner, a long-time partner and former chairman at Mayer Brown LLP, is president of the influential Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago. He was Illinois attorney general from 1980-1983, appointed under former Republican Gov. Jim Thompson. In recent years he has been a vocal advocate for tackling the state's pension problem.
After accepting the award, Fahner said he wanted to end on a personal note. He made a plea to Gov. Bruce Rauner, Senate President Mike Madigan, D-Chicago, and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to set aside their personal dispute and deal with the problems at hand.
"Our constitutional law officers and each member of the General Assembly … have a shared responsibility to govern in the best interests of the people who elected them," he said.
"It also seems clear that Gov. Rauner, Mike Madigan and Rahm Emanuel are also more politically powerful than the rest and they are in the best position to bring positive changes," he said. "We need them to remember who they claimed to be when they were running for election. We have serious problems and we should encourage them to stop. We need them to set aside their personal differences … and do the job we elected them to do."
Illinois is in its third month without a fiscal 2016 budget as the Republican governor and Democratic legislative leaders bicker over tax, spending, and policy issues. Chicago and its struggling school system are relying on the General Assembly and governor to pass legislation to help them deal with their own pension problems.