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Question of the day - Golden Horseshoe Awards

Tuesday, Dec 18, 2012

* The Golden Horseshoe for Best Democratic State Senator goes to Sen. Don Harmon

There are a lot of legislators that can’t find time to squeeze someone in, and Sen. Harmon is not one of them. With so much on his plate, he still manages to find time to meet with people and genuinely cares. Even if he only has a couple of minutes, you never feel rushed and he makes you feel like your one issue is all he is concentrating on at that time.

He’s also super intelligent, it’s likely that you only need to go over an issue with it once for him to get it.

Even more important, if he’s not with you on an issue he’s straight forward with you as to why, and he’ll try to find common ground that you can agree on.

He is a true statesman, and Springfield would be better off with more Senators like Don Harmon.

I couldn’t agree more. Harmon is one of the most respected, hardest working legislators under the dome. We could use several dozen more like him.

* Runner-up is Sen. Dan Kotowski

He is a hard charger who wins tough elections. He advocates for budgetary common sense, and passed the Budgeting For Results law. He has also taken impassioned positions on guns and mental health. In light of recent events, I look to Senator Kotowski to be a leader in the Senate working with colleagues from across the political spectrum to move the state in the right direction. He has a bright future, and I’m proud to call him a friend.

And for a guy who came out of the gun control movement, he has been a sober voice on this issue. Gov. Quinn ought to start listening to him.

* Best Republican is Sen. Matt Murphy

Best Republican state Senator - Matt Murphy has emerged as someone who is intellegent on the issues but evenly intellegent to the political aspects of the business at hand, and still … Murphy understands that relationships with other members, on both sides of the aisle, is the best way to see progress.

It is quite easy, especially in the Minority, to take everything so personal. Matt Murphy does not forget that to get something you want done, you will need to work with those who disagree with you on different issues. Common Ground leads to some good solutions.

It’s about working for good bills, and working together, and Matt Murphy understands the adage, you can disagree, and still not going to be disagreeable.

Matt Murphy has done a tremendous job working in his Caucus and in the State Senate. I wish him well, next session. I feel better knowing Matt Murphy is in the Republican Caucus.

Agreed. Murph can disagree without making permanent enemies. He is principled, yet is often willing to look for compromise.

* Runner-up is Sen. Pam Althoff

Another straight shooter, Pam will listen to reason and be honest about whether or not she’s with you. In a time where a lot of legislators take the easy way out and say “let me think about it” or “I really need to look at this more” Pam will tell you yes or no, and more importantly why. She’s not a strict partisan legislator and is always willing to listen to your argument. Yet another type of legislator that we need more of in Springfield.

We’d be better off with 58 more Althoff’s in the Illinois Senate.

* Let’s expand today’s category, which was created last year…

* Mark Beaubien Lifetime Achievement Award - House

* John Millner Lifetime Achievement Award - Senate

I created the Millner designation for two reasons: 1) He most certainly deserves it; and 2) We have so many retiring members this year that we really needed separate categories for each chamber.

As always, make sure to fully explain your nominations. Just writing in a name won’t count. Also, do your very best to nominate winners in both chambers. Thanks.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


23 Comments
  1. - Mick - Tuesday, Dec 18, 12 @ 9:50 am:

    Things House runs smoothly when Joe Lyons is in the Chair. He is a true gentleman. Plus he heads up the single most important caucus in Springfield, the White Sox Caucus.


  2. - ericd1112 - Tuesday, Dec 18, 12 @ 9:59 am:

    Completely agree about Harmon and Kotowski (I’m just not as familiar with the others). I was in the Capitol once, shortly after Deb Graham stepped out. A number of legislators and lobbyists I spoke with asked, “So, who’s Harmon going to pick to replace her?” I said, “Well, he’s going to have an open forum to let everyone who’s interested make their case.” They all said pretty much the same thing, “Yeah right…well, yeah, OK, since it’s Harmon, but I wouldn’t believe it of anyone else.” Kotowski is a similar straight shooter, he is who he says he is. We have a couple of others who I’d put in that category but we truly would be a better state if we had 57 more like those two.
    Now if we can just get Lisa to take the plunge so that Don can move up to AG…


  3. - Loop Lady - Tuesday, Dec 18, 12 @ 10:23 am:

    MB Award: To Rep. Skip Saviano for working with both sides of the aisle in a long, productive career. Fare well and best always.


  4. - Illiniforlife - Tuesday, Dec 18, 12 @ 10:25 am:

    I concur with Mick’s recommendation of Joe Lyons. He

    Rep. Lyons speaks from his heart, follows his beliefs, and supports the greater good. He is also outstanding in the chair. He will surely be missed. I wish him all the best upon his retirement for whatever the future brings his way.


  5. - circularfiringsquad - Tuesday, Dec 18, 12 @ 10:41 am:

    Lyons…great at chair..fair with opponents and nooooo skeletons


  6. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Dec 18, 12 @ 10:45 am:

    Mark Beaubien Lifetime Achievement Award - There comes a time, and it doesn’t come too often, that a member of the General Assembly grows from Freshamn to Instituion. Then again, even as a Freshman, it seemed as though this Member was on his third term, working on projects and legislation, while his classmates were reading from the “Freshman Binder” about how the Committees worked. It never felt odd to say he was a “throwback” legislator even before he was sworn in, and continued to be someone who practiced the best ideals of a time gone by - bi-partisanship.

    It would be quite lazy for any of us to say, “He is someone you want to have a meal with, have a drink with, tell stories with …” There is so much more to a 20 year legislative career for us to use that crutch to nominate.

    Angelo “Skip” Saviano might be the last of a “Thompson era” type of legislators that understood that if we don’t get along, don’t find common ground, and refuse to get out of our comfort zones, then what do we expect to get done? Saviano could have just been the seat holder. He could have voted his District and his Politcal Operation’s wishes, been a “blue chip” Mushroom in games for others. We are all better off that Angelo “Skip” Saviano… was “Skip”. Saviano was able to parlay his positions to move important issues for himself and countless others.

    You would be hard-pressed to find any House or Senate member, or House or Senate staff member for that matter, that Saviano, at one point or another, personally helped. A true testament of Saviano’s impact on the people of the General Assembly is that no matter what Caucus you are in, no matter what Staff you work for, Saviano’s phone numbers were in your Rolodexes. Same with the “traffic stop” others call a “legislative office”. Everyone that may stop by, has been on Saviano’s radar for one thing or another, and Saviano did his best to resolve even the smallest of issues… if it can help you.

    Saviano is one of the few members that can pull off cooking dinner at the Mansion for members of the General Assembly, AND be the de facto “host” of the “End of Session” party and not have it seem forced. It is in his DNA to be collegial, to make things fun, and to show the appreciation of the hard work done.

    Saviano was someone that others turned to when counting “noses” to see if they can count on his help, with the “and do you think you can get a couple others, I’m a few short”, would sometimes follow. Angelo “Skip” Saviano was the work horse that would win “Best in Show”, all the while working on many other things behind the scenes. A rarity that the Illinois House will greatly miss.

    I would have thought this would be a nomination someone would make farther down the road. Politics is a strange business, suprises and change are part and parcel. This should be an easy choice for all.

    Ask yourself, “Has Angelo ‘Skip’ Saviano impacted the Caucus, the House, his district, the State?”

    “How often did I look for Saviano’s input, assistance, counsel?”

    And … how often, did you have to say, “Hey, Skip, thanks.”

    Here is that chance, to say “Thank you” … one more time.


  7. - Mick - Tuesday, Dec 18, 12 @ 10:58 am:

    Reformer, your tactic is petty and unworthy. Certainly the case you make for Rep Mathias should have been able to stand on it’s own merits.


  8. - 32nd Ward Roscoe Village - Tuesday, Dec 18, 12 @ 11:27 am:

    Sorry to be a day late to the party, but I second Senator Harmon’s win. He was so nice when I walked up to him at his booth at Taste of Melrose Park earlier this year and introduced myself.


  9. - walkinfool - Tuesday, Dec 18, 12 @ 11:29 am:

    I was going to go back to Millner for the overall award. Now what? He’s my first choice if eligible.

    In the House, Sid gets my vote.

    Productive and hard working every day, willing to listen, respected by his peers,fights for his constituents, understands the separation of powers at the state level and between the state and local government, and great heart.

    In the Senate: Susan Garrett for Lifetime achievement.

    She has led on too many issues to list, never backed down from a tough fight, was willing to negotiate fairly, and was generally intelligent in her approach. She did balance rightly the needs of the state overall, versus the demands of her district.


  10. - Eddy - Tuesday, Dec 18, 12 @ 12:55 pm:

    My vote in the House goes to Skip Saviano. As Oswego put it so succinctly, Skip’s been the “go to” guy for many years in the House. He’s completely bipartisan on legislative issues. He is one of only 2 republican legislators that were appointed chairman of a democratic controlled committee. For years, he was the host of the end of session party, mainly because he cared more about other people than himself. The Illinois General Assembly will never, ever be the same without his leadership, friendship, and work ethic.

    For Senate, I’ll vote for Geo Karis. I sure do miss her leadership, her words of wisdom, both on legislative issues, and personal advice. What a wonderful person. Miss you Geo.

    And I completely agree with Mick: reformers comments are petty and unworthy. Comparing legislators side by side, and dictating criteria. Gimme a break.

    Joe Lyons is an awesome human being. So is Sid for that matter.


  11. - north of I 80 - Tuesday, Dec 18, 12 @ 1:29 pm:

    I have to go with Susan Garrett also, she has held Town Hall meetings in the district for years, is loved by Republicans and Democrats, and takes on controversial issues. Because it is important and she cares! She will be missed.


  12. - jswanson - Tuesday, Dec 18, 12 @ 1:39 pm:

    I’m also a big fan of Susan Garrett. She has done such a great job in representing the people in her district. Also, she used to represent Waukegan and nobody worked harder than her to bring people together. She is a unique politician.


  13. - cmatthews - Tuesday, Dec 18, 12 @ 1:49 pm:

    For Senate, my vote goes for Susan Garrett, who has dedicated her political career to asking the “tough questions” and taking on the difficult issues. Her grassroots, no-nonsense approach to politics and the legislative process is what enabled her to get things done, and do it in a bipartisan way. Susan, you will be missed!


  14. - duck duck goose - Tuesday, Dec 18, 12 @ 2:09 pm:

    I heartily agree with the sentiments about Pam Althoff. She is a wonderful Senator. In my dealing with her, I have found that she genuinely cares about doing the right thing regardless of the political fallout. That is a pretty rare attribute in Springfield.

    John Sullivan and Bill Haine are of a similar vein on the other side of the aisle. They possess the peculiar characteristic of being both intelligent and straightforward.


  15. - Centennial - Tuesday, Dec 18, 12 @ 2:10 pm:

    Ditto… Oswego Willy. Could not have said it better.


  16. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Dec 18, 12 @ 2:46 pm:

    John Milner Lifetime Achievement Award - Susan Garrett’s impact on the state of Illinois and on the Illinois Senate can be seen how her district sees her, and how, with their support, Susan Garrett has been able to impact all of Illinois.

    Garrett has been true to herself, allowing her district to judge her on the votes she takes and the stands she makes, all the while being as engaging and impactful a seantor as those with less to worry about “back home”. Garrett has always been fair to the issues and process, and never was afraid to take on the controversial issues of the day. Garrett made the art of political Compromise, not “Compromising” to her and her views. Garrett was a rare legislator that could work to find solutions, and get a fair shake from beginning to end, looking for resloution, not style points.

    Engaging back in her District, Garrett was not one to have office hours for a desk and chair. Garrett was out front, with Town Halls and Public Forums to give her constituents the opportunity be have an impact on the process, while educating them on why their state senator is on a side of an issue, and why it was important for her to be there.

    Susan Garrett will be missed in the Illinois Senate, and I hope that the Freshman coming in will look at Susan Garrett as someone who “did it right”. Illinois can only hope that her model of excellence is copied by these new Freshman, because Illinois needs more than 1 of them to fill her shoes in the Illinois Senate.


  17. - shore - Tuesday, Dec 18, 12 @ 2:51 pm:

    Not to get ahead of anyone but I would clip and save this post. Those 3 names from yesterdays winners sound like future statewide race folks.


  18. - siriusly - Tuesday, Dec 18, 12 @ 3:58 pm:

    The Milner award should go to Senator Maggie Crotty - Maggie is quietly determined, polite yet firm. She has been an incredible advocate for the disabled, seniors and for school funding. She knows how to laugh at herself. I don’t think you’ll find a member in either chamber who doesn’t think she’s a sweetheart.

    The Beaubien award should go to another one from the House class of 1996, Rep. Joe Lyons. Gavel in his hand (or a glass of red wine) the guy is respected by all, fair and honest. He probably began his tenure being judged as a political nephew, but nobody who has worked with him can ever argue he doesn’t know how to serve his constituents well. I will miss working with Joe, but mostly I’ll just miss him.


  19. - Other - Tuesday, Dec 18, 12 @ 4:41 pm:

    I will go ahead and say John O. Jones. He is reasonable, been here for years (granted everyone who is nominated for this award has been), knowledgeable about plenty of deals that were struck years ago, and all around good guy. His caucus will miss him.


  20. - reformer - Tuesday, Dec 18, 12 @ 6:13 pm:

    Speaking of Millner, he’s joining the Third House next month, isn’t he?


  21. - Michelle Flaherty - Tuesday, Dec 18, 12 @ 10:51 pm:

    Tom Johnson. He could actually qualify for either award, but he finished in the Senate so let’s go with the John Millner award. Rep and then Sen. Johnson always managed to both rage against the machine and work within it. In an era of wingnuts, Tea Partiers and loudmouths, more lawmakers could learn from Tom Johnson. Go ahead and try to describe him. Fiscally conservative but a social libertarian? A social liberal with a depression-era checkbook mentality? In my experience ranging from the House to the Prisoner Review Board to the Senate, he was wise and kind and outspoken and an individual. I’ll take more of him on either side of the aisle.


  22. - yo yo - Tuesday, Dec 18, 12 @ 10:57 pm:

    Mark Beaubien Award: Joe Lyons is respected by colleagues, staff, lobbyists, and just about anyone who spends any time with him. He gives everyone a fair shake and always tries to do his best. Who can forget his amazing display of rebellion and class last year during debate on his ultrasound bill. Regardless of your feelings on the issue, you have to respect that he walked from the podium to his chair and chastised the manner in which he and his bill had been treated. Hostile amendments were sent to various committees and called individually, but he handled the situation with class. His presence will be greatly missed.

    Besides Joe, Oswego Willy nailed it because Skip Saviano will be sorely missed.

    Milner Award: You gotta give this to Jeff Schoenberg. He’s been a tireless advocate for a variety of issues. He takes time to work with new members and staff. He’s a great guy whose absence will be noticed.


  23. - CircularFiringSquad - Wednesday, Dec 19, 12 @ 8:34 am:

    Only 22 votes for this category Was everyone so spellbound by the Capt Fax State of the Union address th.
    at they forgot to vote?
    No problem Lyons is the only possible choice unless smoking in the office and EOS parties are big factors in the judging.


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