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Christmas schedule

Thursday, Dec 23, 2004

Blogging has been almost nonexistent lately because of the holidays. One of the best friends I’ve ever had was in town this week, as well as my brother from California who I haven’t seen in four years (he was in Illinois last Christmas, but I was in the Middle East at the time).

Don’t expect much next week, either. I need to quit smoking (again), and it would probably be too dangerous to write anything in that state of mind.

- Posted by Rich Miller   10 Comments      


Patterson inserts zinger

Thursday, Dec 23, 2004

Every now and then, a reporter will insert a paragraph into a story that explains the context without overtly editorializing. John Patterson, of the Daily Herald, did so today in a piece about layoffs at the Department of Natural Resources:

Several environmental groups and the state’s largest employees union say it’s an example of how everyone is losing under Blagojevich’s latest layoffs, which will cut 87 jobs in the state’s conservation agency. Another 37 layoffs at the agency occurred last month.

“The closures and service cuts caused by these latest layoffs will be felt by anyone who hunts, fishes, hikes or bikes in our great outdoors, and they will hurt local economies that depend so heavily on tourism,” said Anne Irving, spokeswoman for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31.

Department of Natural Resources spokesman Joe Bauer said it’s a matter of working within the $188.8 million budget the agency was given. Lawmakers and Blagojevich set the amount. The agency is under Blagojevich’s control.

“And to get down to that number we had to cut costs,” said Bauer, who joined the state in August and makes $75,000 a year. “Unfortunately, that has involved these layoffs.”

I almost never begrudge anyone’s state salary if they actually work. But this story highlights what many see as the real priority of the Blagojevich administration: Communication over governance. Patterson’s story is ostensibly about the site supervisor of Volo Bog State Natural Area, who made $56,000 a year until he was laid off.

- Posted by Rich Miller   4 Comments      


Beaubien “gets it”

Sunday, Dec 19, 2004

Another flashy gubernatorial announcement ends with nothing happening. The State Journal-Register fills us in:

Santa Claus may bring books to your kids this holiday season, but Gov. Rod Blagojevich won’t.

His administration quietly dropped plans to partner with a Tennessee foundation to offer free, age-appropriate books to Illinois children younger than 5. The “Imagination Libraries” program was estimated to cost the state $26 million per year if all eligible children were signed up for monthly mailings. First-year costs were projected at a smaller amount, at least $5 million.

Blagojevich embraced the literacy initiative early this year during a news conference at a South Side church in Chicago. In a Jan. 11 news release, the Democrat was quoted as saying: “Illinois will become the first state in the nation to offer every child a personal library. That’s exactly the kind of commitment children deserve.”

But then the whole thing was dropped.

No news release was issued over the summer when the proposal became a casualty of overtime budget wrangling.

Rep. Mark Beaubien (R-Barrington Hills) deconstructs the situation nicely:

Beaubien said he considered the book program impractical but rapped the gover-nor for misleading people that it would happen. He said the governor tends to make big, splashy announcements without following through.

“These things kind of come up and they die away,” Beaubien said Friday. “The press loves it and gives him front-page headlines. … Instead of saying, ‘Here we go again,’ you say, ‘Isn’t that wonderful?’”

The meme is spreading.

- Posted by Rich Miller   3 Comments      


The evolving story

Sunday, Dec 19, 2004

So, why did the governor postpone his Naperville announcement that he wanted to criminalize the sale and rental of sexually explicit and violent video games to minors? The press conference was reportedly scheduled for Wednesday, then moved to Thursday.

This is what the Naperville Sun published on Wednesday:

“He wanted to delay a day so that the New York Times could be here to cover it,” read the District 203 e-mail announcing the postponement.

A representative from the governor’s office told the Sun on Tuesday that the governor had no public appearances planned for today. The representative from the governor’s office would not say why Blagojevich canceled today’s visit to Naperville.

On Thursday, the Chicago Tribune reported:

Officials with a Naperville school district said the governor’s office asked them to arrange the event for Wednesday but then postponed it for a day, in part to accommodate more national media coverage. The governor’s office denies the claim.

And today, Copley’s Doug Finke wrote this:

Blagojevich’s office said it was delayed because a new Internet Web site they created about the issue wasn’t going to be ready to go by Wednesday.

It sure took the guv’s office long enough to get its story straight, and even when it did, it screwed up the address of that aforementioned site. From the Tribune:

A public relations onslaught for Gov. Rod Blagojevich backfired Friday when state school officials mistakenly promoted the wrong Internet site for his new crusade against violent and sexually explicit video games, directing Web users to one that ridiculed the governor.

The erroneous site, which appeared to have been activated Thursday as Blagojevich announced his initiative to great media fanfare, also included links to pages on Amazon.com where games that the governor found offensive could be easily bought.

The “other” site can be found here. Its name is safegamesillinois.com. The guv’s site is safegamesillinois.org. Oops.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


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