News media in Chicago are reporting that all is not smooth sailing for the enactment of legislation that would overhaul rules for exhibitors at McCormick Place.
The Chicago Tribune, ABC News, and CBS News now say that Illinois Governor Pat Quinn will not necessarily sign the bill, at least not in its present form. The bill, passed two weeks ago by the Illinois House and Senate, contains a “bill of rights” aimed at reducing costs for the Graphic Arts Show Company (GASC) and other groups that produce trade shows at the lakeside expo facility.
The main sticking point appears to be Governor Quinn’s unhappiness over the role that would be played by Jim Reilly, a consultant who advised the legislature about conditions at McCormick Place as the bill was being drafted.
The bill names Reilly as the trustee who would oversee the facility, and this, according to the news stories, is seen by the governor as a potential conflict of interest. Reilly has been a consultant to Freeman and GES, the facility’s exhibition contractors. He also is a former executive in charge of McCormick Place, the home of the Print and Graph Expo shows. (This blog at Crain’s Chicago Business describes the situation in detail.)
Also said to be a factor is pressure on Governor Quinn by the facility’s labor unions, whose practices during shows would be sharply modified or curtailed by the legislation.
The stories quote the governor as saying that he will not move to sign the bill into law until he has had more time to scrutinize its details.
GASC and four other show-producing organizations lobbied hard for the bill, telling lawmakers that Chicago faced the loss of their trade show business if they could not get relief from the high costs and restrictive work rules that have prevailed for many years at McCormick Place.
The article in The Chicago Tribune says that the governor’s “discomfort in signing off is ratcheting up anxiety among trade show organizers.”
It also quotes Chris Price, vice president of GASC, as predicting, “The more time that elapses before a signature, the more chunks of business...will go away."
Ralph Nappi, president of GASC, discussed the show company’s stance on reforms at McCormick Place in an interview with WhatTheyThink. What exhibiting there will be like when and if the reforms are implemented is addressed in this video by the Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau.