Black Mold: an Executive Problem of Mansion Proportions

Black Mold: an Executive Problem of Mansion Proportions

  • Posted: Aug 13, 2015
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The state of Illinois infamously suffers from governors’ bad decisions on a continual basis.

While the Executive Mansion in Springfield has needed repairs for decades (the Chicago Tribune reports that the historic residence has not received a new roof since 1970, a fresh coat of exterior paint since 1991, or updated carpets since 1995), the wet winters it endured throughout former governor Pat Quinn’s tenure exacerbated the problems to extremes. Rotted floors, cracked ceilings, and a mold-riddled basement proved unable to hold up particularly after the 2014 Polar Vortex dropped exceptionally harsh amounts of snowfall. After the last of the snow melted, small leaks became big ones, leading to a large hole in the main porch and necessitating the removal of furniture from the Lincoln Bedroom.

Governor Quinn, in the midst of a re-election campaign, chose to authorize only small emergency repairs to the mansion rather than the necessary restorations. His administration reportedly rejected a $2.5 million offer to replace the porous roof and address other basic upgrades, instead electing to patch leaks temporarily. Not only did the continual leaks further damage the 160-year-old mansion’s infrastructure and historical furnishings, but they also promoted the growth of black mold in the basement. Black mold is the most dangerous type of mold in the home as it releases mycotoxins, which are poisonous to inhale. In forgoing treatment specifically regarding black mold in the mansion, Governor Quinn seems to have neglected his basic responsibilities to preserve the residence and ensure his staff’s health and safety.

Even before present Governor Bruce Rauner and First Lady Diana Rauner moved into the mansion in January of 2015, they recognized the crucial necessity for restoration. Pledging to raise private funds and even dip into their own personal savings, the Rauners are avoiding taxpayer money as a means of fixing the Governor’s Mansion. Whereas Governor Quinn interpreted mold remediation as a state government responsibility, Governor Rauner understood that black mold wouldn’t wait until the state had a surplus of cash lying around. After the November election, he and First Lady Rauner were able to put the pressure on Governor Quinn and his staff, pointing out that leaks, standing water, and growing black mold would cause the cancellation of public tours and the inability to host events, thereby limiting income to fund repairs. More importantly, the mansion would become increasingly unsafe as a workplace for gubernatorial staff members.

As of last December, the black mold had been removed, and when Governor Rauner took office, his wife announced her intentions to restore and improve the mansion to the best executive residence in the United States. The Rauners were wise to recognize that water damage treatment and black mold removal are the most important first steps in taking care of not only a home, but also the people in it.

 

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