Quinn Has Stayed Around Too Long. Please Just Go Away

January 16, 2015 § Leave a comment

Quinn Has Stayed Around Too Long. Please Just Go Away
Posted: 15 Jan 2015 07:44 AM PST
While many people are divided on whether Governor Bruce Rauner will be able to turn around our state’s dire condition, there is one thing most people agree upon.
They are glad that Pat Quinn is FINALLY gone.
Quinn’s sour puss and petty character stayed with him from his days as Rod Blagojevich’s lieutenant governor until the day Rauner took the oath that sent Quinn into forced retirement.
Forced retirement? No, Pat Quinn was fired.
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On election night, Quinn refused to concede. On inauguration day, Quinn refused to attend the ceremony of his successor. Editorial writers called him petty and small, sucking on sour grapes.
Both the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times wrote that Quinn spent his last day “setting traps” for the new governor. And he set a lot of them, including naming more than 100 people to boards and COMMISSIONS. One of his late appointments was his campaign manager, Lou Bertuca, to a $160,000 salary as head of the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority. He appointed Sean Vinck, his chief information officer, to the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation Board. Other appointments included former Gov. James Thompson, Shirley Madigan and Pam Cullerton (wives of the bosses of the state legislature), Chicago Alderman Ed Burke, and a number of other connected figures.
One of Rauner’s first acts on his first day on the job was to rescind many of Quinn’s actions and other “traps.”
Quinn’s career as a gadfly, then a politician, and always a phony, began in the 1970s. Quinn started as a Chicago “activist,” leading the Cutback Amendment, which reduced the Illinois House from 177 to 118. While it did cut the number of hogs at the trough, it also eliminated one guaranteed minority member in each district. It did nothing to stem corruption or insider deals.
In 1980, Quinn led a move to amend the state constitution to allow citizens to pass laws through direct citizen initiative. The Kankakee Daily Journal at the time editorialized, “On the surface, it sounds like democracy in its purest form, but in practice it might be more like legalized anarchy.” There is a reason why we elect people to study and pass measures, it noted.
When Quinn was able to worm his way into party politics, he started as patronage chief to future felon Gov. Dan Walker. Quinn later was named Chicago’s revenue director by Mayor Harold Washington, which Washington later said was “the biggest mistake” he ever made. Quinn lost two elections to future felons – he was defeated for state treasurer by Jerome Cosentino in 1986 and for secretary of state by George Ryan in 1994. He also lost primary elections for the senate and for lieutenant governor. Quinn FINALLY was able to get elected to one term as state treasurer before becoming Rod Blagojevich’s running mate in 2002 and 2006.
George Ryan was the gruff but straight talking governor who got things done. When the road to prison derailed Ryan’s thoughts of a second term, Rod Blagojevich ran as a “reformer” against the corruption of Ryan. When Blagojevich was impeached, Pat Quinn vowed to run a clean and ethical administration.
Quinn turned out to be as honest and open as his predecessors.
Pat Quinn cultivated an image as “Mr. Clean” in his years as a reformer who never seemed to reform anything in his own Chicago turf. However, he was a career politician who has spent decades campaigning as an outsider, a machine politician who crafted an image as a maverick, while working his way to the top of the most corrupt political organization in the United States.
But the cover of Quinn’s slick public relations image began to peel under closer scrutiny when he became governor. His track record in corruption as governor began to rival his track record in ineptness and failure.
Quinn lied in 2010 when he said his 67 percent TAX increase would be temporary. And he cheated to get that increase passed. It passed in the lame duck session after the 2010 election. State Rep. Careen Gordon (who was defeated) voted for the tax increase, even though she campaigned against it. The tax increase, which has impacted every working person in Illinois for four years, passed by one vote. Quinn “rewarded” Gordon for that vote with a high-paying appointment to the Prisoner Review Board. That deal smelled so bad that Gordon withdrew her nomination the day before hearings were to begin. Even the imprisoned Blagojevich denounced the deal as crooked.
And don’t forget Quinn’s deal with Northstar in 2010. Quinn gave the company a $300 million five-year lottery contract, after the company funneled $1.5 million into his campaign fund. Victor Golden, who was on the panel that chose Northstar, became deputy director of the lottery at a salary of $109,248.
Another scandal involved allegations that a $54 million Neighborhood Recovery Initiative grant, intended to curb violence in Chicago neighborhoods, instead was used to fund Quinn’s narrow campaign victory in 2010. The Chicago Tribune reports that a federal grand jury has subpoenaed emails of Quinn’s top aides. These include Jack Lavin, Quinn’s former chief of staff who now is a lobbyist for the GAMBLING industry, and Andrew Ross, who became Quinn’s chief operating officer after the 2010 election. The Tribune reports that Lavin previously was chief operating officer for developer Tony Rezko, who currently is in a federal prison on corruption schemes with Blagojevich.
CBS-2 in Chicago reported that unidentified medical specimens and boxes of confidential records were left behind after Quinn closed mental health centers in Tinley Park, Rockford and Jacksonville. The Department of Human Services failed to properly announce the closures; a state agency delivered $1,000 worth of food to one facility a month after it closed, according to the auditor general’s report . Quinn also closed the women’s prison in Dwight. The prison was near Chicago and just off I-55, which made it convenient for the families of the women, most of whom are in the Chicago area. The women were sent to an already overcrowded prison in downstate Lincoln. This made it impossible for many people to visit their loved ones. Quinn said he closed the mental health facilities and the prison to save MONEY, but studies have shown that didn’t happen. Of course it didn’t; these closures were political, not economic.
Governor Quinn appointed James Sweeney as a director for the Illinois Tollway. Sweeney happens to be president of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150, which has donated more than $450,000 to Quinn’s campaign fund since 2010, state records show. Sweeney also is chairman of the Chicagoland Operators Joint Labor-Management political action committee that contributed $150,000 to Taxpayers for Quinn.
Illinois has one of the worst economic situations in the nation, is billions of dollars in DEBT, and is getting deeper in debt every day. While all adjoining states are rebounding and creating jobs, Illinois is losing jobs, and the situation is getting worse.
What did Quinn do about Illinois’ sinking economy? His policies CONTINUED to chase businesses and individuals out of the state by the thousands, while he decided prosperity can be achieved by picking the pockets of the remaining residents of the state.
Polls showed he was the most unpopular governor in the nation. Quinn was named “America’s Worst Governor” by National Review in its Aug. 11 issue. “If this is the Land of Lincoln, then Pat Quinn is the gubernatorial John Wilkes Booth,” it said.
Illinois has a history of not only tolerating crooks, it has a history of electing them to high office. More than a thousand Illinois politicians have gone to prison since 1972, according to former alderman Dick Simpson. And a lot of other deserving pols have escaped the slammer. Otto Kerner, Dan Walker, Orville Hodge, Paul Powell, Dan Rostenkowski, George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich are just a few of the better known names in the state’s rouge’s gallery. Governor Len Small in the 1920s sold pardons to Al Capone and other gangsters, and he was a friend and ally to the Ku Klux Klan. Small embezzled millions from the state and went on trial, only to avoid prison after Capone’s hoodlums bribed the jury. More recently, Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. was re-elected in 2012 in a landslide, even though he was under federal INVESTIGATION and had gone into hiding for most of the campaign season. He now is in prison. State Rep. Derrick Smith was re-elected in 2012 — he not only was under indictment for taking a bribe, he also had been impeached from the state legislature earlier in the year!
George Ryan was elected governor in 1998, even though the public knew his office sold “licenses for bribes” and knew about the death of the Willis children in an accident caused by a driver who bought his license, and even though the public knew federal investigators were on his trail. Blagojevich was re-elected governor in 2006, even though the public knew he was under federal investigation and was at least as corrupt as Ryan. Quinn ran for re-election in 2014 while under federal investigation on charges of illegal patronage HIRING at the Illinois Department of Transportation. He may yet join the long ranks of governors who went to prison.
In Illinois, that is not always a liability to a candidate.
Pat Quinn is gone. While Quinn is no longer taking a big salary as governor, he still is feeding at the public trough taking his huge pension, and he will CONTINUE to do so until the pension system he was supposed to fix runs out of money. But at least he is doing no more harm.
**
Jim Ridings is a downstate writer, the author of 20 books of local history, including Len Small: Governors & Gangsters, and the recent Small Justice at JimRidings.com

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