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*** UPDATED x2 - It’s 6, not 5 *** Another Quinncidence?

Wednesday, Feb 15, 2012

* Dear top-level Pat Quinn administration official,

I contacted you last week to ask about rumors that former Rep. Bob Flider would be named as the state’s Agriculture Director. You waved me off the story.

Bite me

Former state Rep. Bob Flider, D-Mount Zion, will be named Wednesday director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture, an official in the administration of Gov. Pat Quinn said.

Flider has apparently been sitting in cold storage over at Connected Illinois while waiting for the heat to die down over his vote to raise the income tax in the 2011 lame duck session. Flider lost his reelection bid in 2010 after campaigning against a tax hike

Speaking in October [of 20100, Flider called the income tax hike proposed by Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn “the absolute last thing we need to be doing” and urged the state to “eliminate waste” and make “hard choices.”

Flider might have been given the Ag spot or another top job after he left office, but Quinn stirred up a huge media controversy by appointing former Rep. Careen Gordon to the llinois Prisoner Review Board. Gordon also lost her 2010 race and then voted for the tax hike. Her appointment came three days after that vote. Quinn then waited six months before appointing former Rep Mike Smith to the Educational Labor Relations Board. Smith was another lame duck who voted “Yes” to raise the income tax.

* All told, 12 lame duck House members voted for the tax increase. Counting Flider, five have now received public payroll jobs (Gordon, Smith, John O’Sullivan, Michael Carberry). The husband of former Rep. Betsy Hannig is now Quinn’s legislative director, but that’s not exactly connected. Quinn needed Hannig a whole lot more than Hannig needed Quinn.

*** UPDATE 1 *** I missed one, so it’s six of the twelve, not five. Thanks to a commenter for pointing out that former Rep. David Miller was hired by IDPH.

*** UPDATE 2 *** The governor’s office asked if I would pretty please post these nice things people are saying about Flider. Here you go…

“Bob Flider worked well in the agricultural arena when he served in the General Assembly and on the House Agriculture committee. Bob’s door was always open and we look forward to working with him in his new role as Director of the Department of Agriculture,” said Philip Nelson, President of the Illinois Farm Bureau. “We look forward to sitting down and addressing the many needs of agriculture with him.”

“The Illinois Soybean Association is pleased to support the appointment of a new director of agriculture who comes from the heart of Illinois soybean production and processing. It’s important for Illinois soybean producers to have a strong leader to help grow animal agriculture, improve crucial transportation infrastructure and lead the industry. We look forward to working with Director Flider on issues that promote a healthy food production system in Illinois.” –Matt Hughes, Illinois Soybean Association chairman from Shirley, Illinois

“Bob has a thorough understanding of the issues facing agriculture and agri-business, and he will be a strong advocate for all the state’s agricultural sectors as Director,” said Chris Olsen, Vice President of Community and Government Affairs at Tate & Lyle.

“Bob has lived most of his life in a rural area and represented a rural district as a state legislator, which makes him very familiar with issues important to farmers,” President and CEO of the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives Duane Noland said. “He has also been in public service for a long time. He knows his way around the Capitol as well as the rural areas, so he will be very effective in his new role.”

“Bob was always someone that was supportive and understanding of issues impacting agriculture when he was a member of the General Assembly,” said Jim Kaitschuk, Executive Director of the Illinois Pork Producers Association. “He certainly has the knowledge and understanding of the legislative dynamics, as well as how important agriculture is to the viability of Illinois. These tools will be essential in helping him continue his positive relationship with agriculture and working with the many dedicated people in the industry and within the Department.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - OneMan - Wednesday, Feb 15, 12 @ 9:50 am:

    Come on, how dare you even imply this had something to do with the tax vote…

    Anyone want to take an over/under what the final number will be?

  2. - Jaded - Wednesday, Feb 15, 12 @ 9:52 am:

    Good for Bob. Great guy.

  3. - CircularFiringSquad - Wednesday, Feb 15, 12 @ 9:54 am:

    How come you get to say “bite me” and the loyal stooges who helped propel this site into mega orbit — including being quoted in the highly coveted Chicago Mag Top 100 :) — do not?
    BTW Flider should do a grade A job if he can withstand the torrent of hand wringing from the do gooders, reformers who will be banging their jaws?

  4. - Bitterman - Wednesday, Feb 15, 12 @ 9:57 am:

    True enough on all counts but IMO Bob Flider is a good and competent man with the administrative and political skills to run a state agency. He never demagogued, played with a level head and listened to all sides. Yeah, he flipped on the tax vote most likely looking for the pay back but with a family to take care of I won’t cast stones.

  5. - Foxfire - Wednesday, Feb 15, 12 @ 9:57 am:

    Hmmmm….I remember reading something about this recently. Where did I read this?

    Lesson Number One: Pat Quinn has always loved patronage

  6. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Feb 15, 12 @ 10:03 am:

    ===How come you get to say “bite me” and the loyal stooges who helped propel this site into mega orbit… do not?===

    My site, my rules.

    Bite me.


  7. - Fed up - Wednesday, Feb 15, 12 @ 10:12 am:

    C’mon everyone knows pat Quinn isn’t like the rest of the pols. Just because he studied under Blago and lied his way through an election is no reason to imply he isn’t on the straight and narrow. Hmm couldn’t leave a few of these positions vacant you now like so many other state jobs. No one would Notice if the second in command was in charge for a while.

  8. - Silly Rich, Journalism is for Adults! - Wednesday, Feb 15, 12 @ 10:12 am:

    Grouping Johnny O and Carberry here is an attempt to make it look to the less than fully informed readers of this blog that Quinn hired them as well. So that makes it 3? Which isn’t a huge trend. And the Hannig bit was just hillarious, nice try.

  9. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Feb 15, 12 @ 10:25 am:

    ===that Quinn hired them as well===

    Yeah, because it was total coincidence that those two got public jobs after leaving the House. Right. Stay with that argument. You’ll look so journalistic. Also, notice the link on those two names? It’s there for a reason.

    And I dismissed Hannig as a possibility. So, bite me, moron.

  10. - Been There - Wednesday, Feb 15, 12 @ 10:30 am:

    ===Johnny O and Carberry===
    Johnny O ended up getting canned by Preckwinkle. Not sure what he did to tick off Toni.
    I think he is a lobster now.He has been a long time supporter of Quinn’s and worked at the county before being st rep.

  11. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Feb 15, 12 @ 10:33 am:

    Same as it ever was.

  12. - reformer - Wednesday, Feb 15, 12 @ 10:35 am:

    Since five of twelve lame-duck supporters of the tax hike have done well since retirement — whether by quinncodence or not — it sounds as if the remaining seven either have have bad luck or poor negotiating skills.

  13. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Feb 15, 12 @ 10:36 am:

    ===either have have bad luck or poor negotiating skills. ===

    A couple have gone back to private business. Not everybody needs public employment.

  14. - Aldyth - Wednesday, Feb 15, 12 @ 10:38 am:

    A deal is a deal is a deal.

  15. - Dirty Red - Wednesday, Feb 15, 12 @ 10:40 am:

    Perfect fit for a competent, well liked guy like Flider.

  16. - Wensicia - Wednesday, Feb 15, 12 @ 10:41 am:

    Why do some insist on pretending that Quinn choices have absolutely no relationship to the tax-hike vote? I mean, really…

  17. - ILPundit - Wednesday, Feb 15, 12 @ 10:48 am:

    I think the administration should be commended for finding an appointment for someone who is not a longtime personal friend, or under the age of 35.

  18. - Tom - Wednesday, Feb 15, 12 @ 10:50 am:

    I learned long ago never to lie to Rich Miller!

  19. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Feb 15, 12 @ 10:52 am:

    Don’t forget David Miller at IDPH.

  20. - Way Way Down Here - Wednesday, Feb 15, 12 @ 11:04 am:

    “. . .loyal stooges. . .” Someone should grab that as a handle ASAP!

  21. - Name Withheld - Wednesday, Feb 15, 12 @ 11:13 am:

    And here’s where pension boosts come into play as the ex-legislators start to earn more salary as a Department director than as a legislator. But they still get the pension at the GA rates.

    *This* is the kind of thing pension reform needs to address. Forget about the typical state worker with his copper parachute - go after this kind of garbage.

  22. - dupage dan - Wednesday, Feb 15, 12 @ 11:14 am:

    Hey, there, Pat, old friend - how ya been doin’? Remember me, your old friend?

  23. - Victor Kingston - Wednesday, Feb 15, 12 @ 11:21 am:

    I have concerns with the tone of this discussion. There seems to be a link in some peoples mind between the concepts of voting for the tax increase then being hired and the ability of the person to do a good job. I.E: these people voted for the tax increase. Taxes are bad. Ergo these people will do a bad job.

    That’s a somewhat foolish way to discuss this topic no matter your stance on it. You can be concerned that these individuals voted for the increase and were hired but that isn’t linked in any way to their potential job performance. Especially when it comes to Mr. Flider. Say what you want about him siting at PCI waiting for this job, but his work at that agency has to been very impressive. He has garnered significant amounts of respect from the tech community for his work there.

    The bottom line is we should be seperating the issue of possible patronage from potential job performance. They are mutually exclusive.

  24. - Anon - Wednesday, Feb 15, 12 @ 11:49 am:

    Pat Quinn also hires all democrats that lose elections, even though the public rejected them for elected office Quinn AkaJack Lavin will get the public to pay their salaries dan seals anyone?

  25. - Stateline - Wednesday, Feb 15, 12 @ 12:00 pm:

    Flider voted his conscience and fell on his sword. We have deservedly criticized many of our Governor’s (GOP & DEM) appointments over the years, but Flider does not deserve that criticism. He is capable and a good guy.

  26. - Shock & Awww(e) - Wednesday, Feb 15, 12 @ 12:09 pm:

    1.) Always enjoy a nice “bite me” sprinkled in for good measure. I hear it warms the cockles of wordslinger’s heart. And mine.

    2.) When do the final 6 get their jobs?

    Or are they already collecting their rewards? Perhaps meeting PQ for coffee and a cinnamon challenge every Wednesday morning?

    That’s got to be good for at least 6 votes.

  27. - dupage dan - Wednesday, Feb 15, 12 @ 12:12 pm:

    =Flider voted his conscience and fell on his sword=

    Seems like it was one of those rubbery swords one sees in a 3 Stooges short. Boing boing!

    Of course, it is very unlikely that PQ would have promised any kind of support during those tense times before the tax increase was passed. Very unlikely.

  28. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Feb 15, 12 @ 12:18 pm:

    Other than living near ADM and serving on the Ag Committee, where is his expertise for this job? I agree that Bob is a decent man, but he’s the best for Ag, one of the state’s most important economic engines?

  29. - Michelle Flaherty - Wednesday, Feb 15, 12 @ 12:41 pm:

    How about a constitutional amendment to let the voters pick the cabinet members?

  30. - mark walker - Wednesday, Feb 15, 12 @ 12:43 pm:

    Bob Flider is smart, ethical, and idealistic about government service. He should do well for the citizens in this job. Clever phrase “sitting in cold storage”, but it doesn’t seem to apply in this case.

    As one who made his career outside of government, and was honored to serve despite some financial sacrifice, I find it upsetting that people usually assume the worst about elected and appointed officials. Most act responsibly, though there are exceptions to the general rule.

    Trading jobs for specific votes? Rare. At least I haven’t seen it. (You can just call me “clueless” if that works for you.)

    Hiring people for senior jobs whom you percieve as “on your team”, probably sharing your vision, loyal and supportive in the past, and unlikely to criticize you publicly: Common.

    Does this lead to the best possible government? Unlikely. We should always strive to improve. But it’s common practice in the private sector as well.

  31. - reformer - Wednesday, Feb 15, 12 @ 12:45 pm:

    No one doubts that former Rep. Smith voted his conscience, since he had long supported an income tax hike. Smith had proposed a constitutional amendment (HRRCA 42 in 2008) to permit a graduated income tax.

    The question is whether reps who campaigned against an income tax hike and lost their re-election bids were following their consciences when they changed their positions a few weeks later. And whether subsequent state jobs had anything to do with their epiphanies on the issue.

  32. - OneMan - Wednesday, Feb 15, 12 @ 12:46 pm:

    He might be the best for Ag who voted for the tax increase

  33. - He Makes Ryan Look Like a Saint - Wednesday, Feb 15, 12 @ 12:54 pm:

    Perhaps we should create a rule that prohibits anyone from the Legislature from takeing a state job for 2 years after leaving the legislature.

  34. - Bill - Wednesday, Feb 15, 12 @ 12:59 pm:

    ==I find it upsetting that people usually assume the worst about elected and appointed officials==

    Really, Mark?

    It is not like we assume facts not in evidence. Its not like there is no basis in fact.

    What would convince you that these appointments were more than quinnincidences? 8 out of 12? 10 out of 12″? all 12?

    When we assume the worst in Illinois we are right a lot of the time.

  35. - mark walker - Wednesday, Feb 15, 12 @ 1:22 pm:

    Bill: The “worst” to which I was referring, that people assume in this case, is that legislators sold their votes to get a job in the administration. I am fairly certain that is not the case across the board. Of course one would be too many.

    If you’re arguing that political alliances and previous support should not be considered by any governor in selecting key staff, and that is what you are calling “quinnincidences”, then I am sympathetic and we can have that discussion.

  36. - mark walker - Wednesday, Feb 15, 12 @ 1:35 pm:

    I knew I should have kept my mouth shut on this one. :)

  37. - Decaturguy - Wednesday, Feb 15, 12 @ 1:58 pm:

    Fliders appointment a joke. Flider’s an embarrassment. Voted for pension holidays, new programs and borrowing. Fliders career testament to why Illinois’ broke. Horrible.

  38. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Feb 15, 12 @ 2:06 pm:

    ===Fliders appointment a joke. Flider’s an embarrassment. Voted for pension holidays, new programs and borrowing. Fliders career testament to why Illinois’ broke. Horrible. ===

    Mongo no like Flider!

    Do you like Spanish balloons at least?

  39. - OneMan - Wednesday, Feb 15, 12 @ 2:22 pm:

    Nice of you to post the nice things about him.. Suggestion to the governors office, we would be a bit more impressed with things coming from folks who will not have to deal with his department once he is in the job.

    The guy who decides OneMan’s pay is a stud, says OneMan

  40. - Davey Boy Smithe - Wednesday, Feb 15, 12 @ 2:27 pm:

    Mongo likes candygrams. I hope his babe sent him one yesterday.

  41. - earl - Wednesday, Feb 15, 12 @ 2:31 pm:

    Where else,other than lobbying,can a politician find work? Qualifications seems unimportant in Springfield.

  42. - Bitterman - Wednesday, Feb 15, 12 @ 2:42 pm:

    RM at 12:18. Bonifides? Read Bernie’s column, front page of SJR. I think he sums it up nicely. He should be successful and good for Illinois Ag community.

  43. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Feb 15, 12 @ 2:45 pm:

    ===Read Bernie’s column, front page of SJR===

    I did read it. It’s actually linked above if you bothered to look. I ain’t stupid, or contagious - as far as I know.

  44. - Jaded - Wednesday, Feb 15, 12 @ 3:05 pm:

    Wow, I am shocked that the farm bureau, pork producers, rural electric coops, the soybean association, and Tate and Lyle all had nice things to say about a new Ag director who was an absolutely tanker for all those groups while he was a state rep.
    Will the next update they ask you to post be comments from his wife and kids?

  45. - Bitterman - Wednesday, Feb 15, 12 @ 3:21 pm:

    RM, Don’t think you are either of those either. I did not understand your question re: Flider’s quals given all the prima fascia info on him. So anyway, the Mongo reference was funny.

  46. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, Feb 15, 12 @ 3:30 pm:

    I think the important lesson to be learned here is that misleading journalists is a bad idea.

    That general rule applies especially to Rich Miller.

    Governors, cabinet members, lawmakers, lobbyists and p.r. flaks have come and gone. Reporters and even newspapers too.

    Madigan and Capitolfax are two of the most persistent constants in our world.

  47. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Feb 15, 12 @ 3:49 pm:

    -Madigan and Capitolfax are two of the most persistent constants in our world.-

    Note to Tribune: Blame Miller.

  48. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, Feb 15, 12 @ 3:54 pm:

    @wordslinger -

    One lawmaker used to tell me “Never pick a fight with a guy who buys ink by the barrel.”

    I think the guy who buys his “ink” by the kilowatt beats the Dead Tree Industry every time.

    For all of the Tribune editorial board’s pontification, I see more public policy ideas being derived from Rich Miller — even some of this blog’s posters — than from Mother Tribune.

  49. - Shore - Wednesday, Feb 15, 12 @ 4:39 pm:

    Bush put a lot of defeated Republican congressmen and senators into jobs after 2006. Some wisconsin congressman got an ambassadorship to central africa, a woman who was defeated for congress in maryland got a job as an ambassador to some european un agency, if Seals had beaten Kirk in 2006 he would have had a post at the pentagon or state if he had wanted one. I don’t want to throw cold water here but this is kind of how it goes and some of these people actually probably bring things to the table for the state. Obama did the same thing with some retiring Republicans like Ray LaHood and a few democrats who lost last fall or their staffers.

    You’re also leaving out staff who potentially got jobs and aren’t out of the picture either on votes and other key decisions.

  50. - Downstate Illinois - Wednesday, Feb 15, 12 @ 5:20 pm:

    It’s kind of like when all 12 of Gov. Small’s jurors who voted to acquit him ended up with state jobs within six months of his corruption trial back in June 1922.

  51. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, Feb 15, 12 @ 7:26 pm:

    Anyone who knows Bob Flider in the least or his district cannot be the least surprised by his vote
    For the tax increase. He’s a smart guy. He can read a financial statement. It was clear that Illinois was headed over a financial cliff and the grownups had to act fast.

    If Flider had won re-election, he STILL would have voted for the tax hike, I bet. So would all of the Democrats that did. The fact that they had lost made it easier, sure.

    Let’s be honest about another thing. Madigan and
    Cullerton put together this rollcall. The leaders make the strategic decisions about which members are “targets” that need protectin’ and who is “expendable.”

    Rid yourself of any delusions that Quinn was the “Mastermind” who passed a tax increase, my friends.

  52. - Wilson Pickett - Thursday, Feb 16, 12 @ 7:21 am:

    The Bob Flider appointment further illustrates why Quinn exemplifies “patronage politics” and one reason why Illinois is in such bad shape. The Careen Gordon appointment was another one of those “Quinn pay-offs” that outraged the Grundy County voters. She sold her soul and her sense of integrity to Quinn in return for the promise of a state job from Quinn. Today, Careen couldn’t get elected as a dog-catcher in Grundy County because of her blatant “sell out” to Quinn.

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