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Question of the day - Golden Horseshoe Awards

Friday, Dec 21, 2012

* This is our final day, so we need to do two today to finish things up. Let’s go to the winners of yesterday’s first round.

* The Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Contract Lobbyist goes to Tom Cullen

He is a man always willing to help you out and if you’re his opponent on something, he’s never going to go behind your back. He’ll stick the knife in while smiling, but he will be completely and brutally honest with you while doing so, and that’s a trait that is critical to his respectability. He’s sharp as a tack, a master strategist, and a treat to work with - when he’s with you.

I’m assuming that Tom will also get a bunch of nominations for “Best Insider” this year. He’s that good.

* Runner-up is Ed Peck

I’ve worked with Ed on a number of big issues and as a member of staff, he provides valuable insight and gets back to you right away. I know that sounds simple, but working on the minority staff, you see lobbyists ignore our office. A testament to Ed that he works every angle and makes sure he does the job right. It is greatly appreciated.

I’ve known Ed for a lot of years. He most definitely goes the extra mile for his clients.

* The Golden Horseshoe Award for Best In-House Lobbyist goes to last year’s runner-up, IRMA’s Rob Karr

Rob is a consummate professional and well versed in virtually every issue having the slightest impact on both his members and the state’s business community. Even those who oppose Rob’s positions will agree that he is always willing to try and reach a compromise on differing opinions - a virtue that is seemingly lacking in the statehouse these days. As someone who has worked with Rob since his very first days in Springfield, retailers in Illinois are in very good and widely respected hands.

IRMA is without a doubt one of the most effective groups under the dome. Karr, under the tutelage of Dave Vite, is a major part of that.

* Runner-up is the IMA’s Mark Denzler

Mark Denzler is not only extraordinarily effective, I’ve never seen him take credit for other people’s work like some of the business lobsters. Pairing him with Rob Karr and you have Batman & Robin. But please Mark…no tights!


* Alrighty then, campers, let’s move along to today’s first set of categories…

* The Mike McClain Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Statehouse Insider

* Best Statewide Officeholder

As always, make extra sure to explain your votes. An unexplained vote will not be counted. Also, try very hard to nominate in both categories. Thanks much.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Skeeter - Friday, Dec 21, 12 @ 11:10 am:

    Best Statewide Office Holder is a tough one. We have a host of screw ups. Quinn? No leadership. Judy? Since when is taking care of puppies part of the job description of the Comptroller? Rutherford? When not running for his next office and making statements that help make our credit rating worse, he’s not bad. Lisa Madigan? I can list her accomplishments on a napkin. Actually, I can’t. No significant accomplishments come to mind.

    That leaves Jesse White. White’s organization has dumped some of the most incompetent politicians around on us. From Ken Dunkin to Derrick Smith, nothing says “self-serving” or “clueless” like “Part of Team White.”

    However, White’s office is not run like his political organization. Almost every time I’ve been in one of their offices — from business services to driver’s licenses — the staff has been polite, helpful and efficient. Every time I walk in I expect a battle, and I almost always leave amazed at the efficiency.

    When it comes to running an office, White gets the job done. I would never vote for anybody he endorses, but I will vote for him if he runs again.

  2. - shore - Friday, Dec 21, 12 @ 11:11 am:

    jesse white for statewide officeholder. His office works better than you’d have hoped and that’s what it’s supposed to do. 5 seconds for a drivers renewal you can do from your phone, and the cost doesn’t gouge your eyes.

  3. - Reality - Friday, Dec 21, 12 @ 11:20 am:

    Best statewide….does US Senate count? Dick Durbin wins hands-down…and I am a Republican.

  4. - walkinfool - Friday, Dec 21, 12 @ 11:23 am:

    Best Statwide Officeholder:

    Got to be Judy Barr Topinka. When Rutherford was badmouthing the state to rating agencies for political gain, JBT was simply laying out our situation and possible tactics. While others run for governor, JBT tries to fix the accounts payable problem now, and longer-term. When others send out state reports that look like campaign brochures, to select audiences who are likely future donors, JBT upgrades the public access to real time data.

    What a breath of fresh air! We never should have believed the political caricatures of her put out by the Dems.

    (I wish I knew a good statehouse insider.) :)

  5. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Dec 21, 12 @ 11:24 am:

    Best Statewide Officeholder

  6. - Reality - Friday, Dec 21, 12 @ 11:27 am:

    If US Senate (Durbin) doesn’t count as a legitimate choice for statewide officeholder then I would be forced to nominate “Gov Light” Sheila Simon…simply because she hasn’t screwed anything up or made a spectacle of herself like the other candidates.

  7. - Yossarian Lives - Friday, Dec 21, 12 @ 11:35 am:

    Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon. No nonsense, no drama, not a media hound constantly agonizing in public about whether to seek the next office, and plays a mean banjo. Seriously. I heard her at the State Fair, and she’s really good. Of course, if she were Treasurer Rutherford, she’d tweet about it all the time. And that would still be infinitely more interesting than pics of the Treasurer replacing a toilet seat or the daily tweet updating all of us on what movie he watched while on the treadmill.

    The runner-up should be Lisa Madigan. She’s accomplished a lot; what comes to mind for me is the settlement money Illinois got from the big banks for foreclosure counseling, etc. Also initiatives on domestic violence, sales tax fraud, elder abuse, payday lenders and refund anticipation loans, and much more. She also gets points in my book for her reply to the reporter who rudely kept asking about whether she’d be able to serve as governor given how young her children are. Good for her for standing up for the dignity and abilities of working moms… and stay-at-home dads.

  8. - Yossarian Lives - Friday, Dec 21, 12 @ 11:36 am:

    And I readily admit I haven’t been around long enough to know who’s the best statehouse insider.

  9. - Ray del Camino - Friday, Dec 21, 12 @ 11:39 am:

    The only statehouse insider I know already has the Horseshoe named after him.

    I nominate Sheila Simon for best statewide officeholder. She is often–often!–on the road, out among the folks. She understands the complex issues and challenges, can explain them in plain English at the town meetings, and is always focused on doing the right thing. She is good old, downstate Illinois people. Plus, she can play the banjo.

  10. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Dec 21, 12 @ 11:55 am:

    Best Statewide Officeholder - Illinois finds itself in, arguably, one of its worst situations in its history. As cartoons are born, and while others enjoy sharing themselves with others, leaders are trying to get the focus on what needs to be done.

    While doing the job that she was entrusted to, by the voters, we find others looking beyond where they are, and forgetting that the job at hand is more important to the people of Illinois, then the job they wish they can have. Cutting through the noise and getting to the bottom line is what Judy Baar Topinka is all about.

    Topinka has been tireless in trying to make everyone focus on our financial situation, and has been willing to call out bad policy, and work towards realistic solutions.

    The easy thing to do is point out something. “Look at that,” is not a solution.

    Topinka has been a breath of fresh air, by talking about the issues, and doing her job in a very tough climate. Topinka is taylor made for her role in trying to find solutions, looking for compromise and common sense, at the expense of talking points and partisanship. Topinka looks for what is best for all of us, not what is only best for herself and her tomorrows.

    A top notch staff, and dedication to her staff, reaps large dividens for Illinois. There is a sense of eveyone pulling in one direction, and not one arm pulling for the best politics and the ohter arm pulling for the best solutions.

    Good politics is good government, and vice a versa. Add that, with a hint compromise and a dash of sacrifice makes for a strong statewide office holder. That formula alone makes Judy Baar Topinke rise among her colleagues.

    We need to rally with all we have in common, and all that is good, not only for us as individuals, but what is good for us as a state. If we are blind to what challenges we are facing in this state, Judy Baar Topinka has tried to guide our focus back to the task at hand, and it hasn’t been by comic book. It’s going to take more than a Tweet to be taken seriously in this very serious game, and Judy Baar Topinka has shown she is not afraid of the challenges.

  11. - siriusly - Friday, Dec 21, 12 @ 11:57 am:

    Best statewide office holder is AG Lisa Madigan. Really people. She does her job with the highest level of professionalism, she motivates and supports her staff and she does not showboat, grandstand or jump in front of the tv cameras (only when appropriate).

    The Mike McClain award for best statehouse insider should go to Jack Lavin. I know, it doesn’t make any sense, but oddly to me it does. He seems to be the only guy in the administration who actually does know what’s going on most of the time. He’s always the one you need to get to for a solution, and he knows way more than he says (a required trait of the insider).

  12. - soccermom - Friday, Dec 21, 12 @ 12:03 pm:

    Aww, it’s Christmas. I’m voting for the Governor.

  13. - Crime Fighter - Friday, Dec 21, 12 @ 12:05 pm:

    Best Statewide Officeholder: Auditor General Bill Holland (if he fits Rich’s Officeholder definition). His work shining the light on high-level pervasive and costly statewide mischief and mismanagement is exemplary. If Gen. Holland doesn’t count:
    Jesse White for the above stated reasons. Offices from Drivers’ Services to the Court of Claims seem to exude signs of competent and ethical leadership. Sec. White seems to be the exception where the other statewide officeholders just don’t seem to add much value. Quinn along with his defender Lisa Madigan have actually been detrimental in many ways. The other office holders just seem to be along for the ride.

    Best Statehouse Insider - Rich Miller for his insightful and inclusive work on this blog, the IT, the C-ST and other venues.

  14. - Skeeter - Friday, Dec 21, 12 @ 12:06 pm:

    If Simon really wanted to do her job well, she would push a plan to abolish her own office.

  15. - Anonymous - Friday, Dec 21, 12 @ 12:29 pm:

    I think I voted for Jesse White last year and will do so again because–surprisingly enough, the solutions he implemented have actually been sustainable.

  16. - Rich Miller - Friday, Dec 21, 12 @ 12:32 pm:

    ===Auditor General Bill Holland (if he fits Rich’s Officeholder definition)===

    Yes, he does. He’s a constitutional officer.

  17. - Norseman - Friday, Dec 21, 12 @ 1:05 pm:

    I want to second both of Crime Fighter’s nominations. Holland is the one official I believe is truly acting on behalf of the citizens of Illinois and not looking to further his own political career. While I may not agree with some audit conclusions, I know there are no political agendas behind them.

    As for Statehouse Insider, Rich may not be a political insider, he is who many outsiders depend upon for relaying what’s going on beneath the Squeezy embraced dome.

  18. - Anyone Remember? - Friday, Dec 21, 12 @ 1:14 pm:

    Given the Chair’s ruling, Auditor General Bill Holland. 3 examples. First, his testimony during the Impeachment proceedings. Read the transcripts

    Second, his audits of CMS during the Blagojevich’s first term. Blagojevich’s people, particularly then CMS Director Rumman, tried to discredit the audit and Holland - both failed miserably.

    Third, while the Illinois Office of Internal Audit was ineffective, it was established after a series of Holland’s audits showing under George Ryan internal auditors were being prevented from doing their jobs. In fact, in early 2003 an audit proved as much, and noted the internal auditor was the son of the holdover agency director from Ryan - he was gone by the end of the day.

  19. - Anyone Remember? - Friday, Dec 21, 12 @ 1:22 pm:

    In my haste to post, forgot this gem

  20. - Rail Sitter - Friday, Dec 21, 12 @ 1:46 pm:

    Mark Denzler is the best Statehouse insider. He know all the players and all the angles and is usually three steps ahead. I say usually because sometimes he is 4-5 steps ahead.

  21. - Formerly Known As... - Friday, Dec 21, 12 @ 2:41 pm:

    Best Statewide Officer: Bill Holland, hands down. Holland is now, in essence, the parental unit of our state government. His work has saved taxpayers countless millions of dollars, and reports produced by his office instantly carry more credibility than anything issued by other state officers or agencies.

    The reputation, integrity and diligence of his office are beyond reproach.

    In Illinois politics, that’s really saying something.

  22. - Arthur Andersen - Friday, Dec 21, 12 @ 3:05 pm:

    I intensely nominate General Holland.
    He has set a high bar for integrity, honesty, and work ethic seldom seen in the upper echelons of State Government. He has recruited a top-flight staff who share his values and who aren’t among the higher-paid State workers. He is fair, straightforward, and universally respected around town.
    He’s just a good guy. We need more like him.

  23. - 1776 - Friday, Dec 21, 12 @ 3:23 pm:

    Bill Holland. Auditor General. What else needs to be said. Nonpartisan, fair, factual, honest - exactly what you want in an Auditor General.

    Insider - Mike McClain. He’s the best in the business and the namesake of the award and is still operating at top levels. If he can’t win, then I’d throw my support to Mike Thomson who was largely influential in the new map, still has the ear of the Speaker and Senate President, and is a growing force.

  24. - circular firing squad - Friday, Dec 21, 12 @ 3:39 pm:

    no doubt about Holland…third term without breaking a sweat insider…give a look to Nancy kimme …can work d’s keep jbt on track…lots of institutional knowledge

  25. - Louis G. Atsaves - Friday, Dec 21, 12 @ 3:56 pm:

    Best Statewide Officeholder: Judy Baar Topinka. As Comptroller, she pulls no punches about Illinois finances. I hear no complaints about her office in terms of efficiency and she rarely if ever showboats for the press. No fancy spin or press releases, just the facts. The way it should be. Way to go Judy!

  26. - Just The Way It Is One - Friday, Dec 21, 12 @ 3:59 pm:

    He takes so much bunk and really is trying his best to solve a lot of big problems in our beloved Land of Lincoln–Pat Quinn.

  27. - Rich Miller - Friday, Dec 21, 12 @ 4:40 pm:

    We need more nominations for best insider, folks. Time’s a wasting…

  28. - Casual observer - Friday, Dec 21, 12 @ 4:55 pm:

    Rich Miller is the only insider I listen to…or believe.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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