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Today’s Golden Horseshoe Awards

Thursday, Dec 19, 2013

* Believe it or not, the 2013 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Statewide Officeholder goes to Gov. Pat Quinn

Dragging Illinois out of the mess left by previous administrations and legislatures hasn’t been pretty, and it hasn’t made him the most popular leader, but he shrugs off the arrows and keeps dragging.

Say what you want about the man, but he’s not willing to sell out the state’s best interests, and he doesn’t get hustled by big city mayors or big time CEOs. He’s been instrumental on major issues like the tax increase, pension reform, SSM, etc., but he also doesn’t overlook the small stuff like the free museum days.

That’s the kind of leader I respect.

* A very close runner-up was Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka…

Judy, Judy, Judy: We can count on her to tell the simple truth, without the political messaging, massaging, and cheap shots. She has common sense. She works hard. She treats other people with respect. When we get confused on just where the state fiscal house stands, Judy sets us straight.

I noticed that Lisa Madigan received no nominations yesterday. Neither did Jesse White. I think that’s a first.

* Nominations for the 2013 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Congresscritter were kinda all over the place. But this nomination of Congressman Mike Quigley was the strongest…

For best congresscritter, I will second Mike Quigley, who so far looks like the rising star to beat in the next generation of IL’s Democratic House delegation. He started off 2013 with a bang by winning IL’s seat on Appropriations. Currently in the minority, he can work with both parties, particularly right now on ethics and fiscal restraint, while still being a strong voice for social progressivism and not shying away from calling out the Tea Party for its antics. He seems to have mastered the sweet spot of being a strong partisan and being politically effective, while not seeming overly partisan or political. There aren’t enough Reps in DC who can marry political smarts with just being really smart in general, but Quigley can walk and chew gum.

* Runner-up goes to freshman Rodney Davis…

This is a tough choice, and there really isn’t one in the Delegation where you find yourself sayting “They are Illinois!” Potomac Fever, Leadership positions, the wonky style of Washington has taken some of the charisma out, and added a great deal of partisan in, and that is not good at all.

That being said, my vote is for the member of the Delegation who has had the most to deal with since being sworn in, and has tried to handle the job, his district, national politics and local feuds the best of them all.

Congressman Rodney Davis has tried to do what he has felt was right, while dealing with the national scene that may not agree with those back home, making decisions and votes that have nothing to do with the local dust-up many in Congress do not have to face.

Rodney Davis continues to work hard to be the representative to Congress his district, this state and this country can be proud of, while walking a very fine line of partisanship and independence. Rodney Davis has served his district and this state well, while being a freshman and doing all this plate balancing.

Rodney Davis is a credit to his district and state, and will continue to be scrutinized in the short term. Illinois in the long term is being served well with Rodney Davis.

* OK, campers, we’re running outta time here, so let’s move on to our next categories…

* Best “Do-Gooder” Lobbyist

* Best Legislative Liaison

As always, make sure to explain your votes. Simple drive-by comments won’t be counted. Thanks!

- Posted by Rich Miller        


44 Comments
  1. - Captain Observant - Thursday, Dec 19, 13 @ 9:58 am:

    Best “Do-Gooder” Lobbyist - Daria Muller at End Demand. No more felony prostitution? Who would’ve thought that was even remotely possible? Well done young lady. A very heavy lift indeed.

    Best legislative liaison - No question, John Carroll at CCSAO. He was brought down to help an experienced team, then that team quit. No experience at all, a boss with an image problem, and still passed a handful of bills. Arguably the funniest guy at the Globe. If he doesn’t win this he should get a new horseshoe, “rookie of the year.”


  2. - Give Me A Break - Thursday, Dec 19, 13 @ 10:08 am:

    Best Do-Gooder: Phil Milsk: Phil has had hand in crafting most of the legislation for human services and special education issues for the last 20 years. He knows the issues, the members, the staffers and has great relationships with the various State Agencies and their legislative directors that work on human services issues. He’s not the type to call a presser, bring hundreds to the statehouse or grandstand in committee. He simply uses the system to craft public policy. And you won’t ever out work him.


  3. - More Courage - Thursday, Dec 19, 13 @ 10:36 am:

    Best Liaison - Randy Wells - DHS. He just excels at cutting through the BS that is layered in the process and gets the job done. He knows that this business is all about relationships and he works well with everyone from first year staffers to seasonsed legislators from both sides of the aisle. Sometimes you don’t hear what you want to hear, but at least you know he is shooting straight - even when he is dealing with the tin foil hatters. Simply said, he stands tall above the crowd.


  4. - Rahm'sMiddleFinger - Thursday, Dec 19, 13 @ 11:15 am:

    Best Do Gooder Lobbyist- Kristen Strawbridge of the Humane Society should win this year. Though the Puppy Lemon Law got a lot of press, it was a tough slog behind the scenes. I think it may have been the first animal friendly piece of legislation to ever pass out of House Agriculture Committee. Kristen has shown an ability to work with both parties (notably Dillard and Brady both voted for the Puppy Lemon Law) and with downstate legislators who historically have had no interest in working with the Humane Society. She is a superstar.

    Best Legislative Liaison- Technically he was in the Governor’s Office at the time, but Raghav Murali deserves recognition for being responsible for shepherding both medical marijuana and fracking negotiations. Both are bills that involved multiple agencies and have complex regulatory structures. Raghav did an excellent job.

    I’d also like to give a vote to Randy Wells of DHS. That’s not the most fun place to work, but Randy does a fantastic job and is always smiling. He’s a true professional.


  5. - Spliff - Thursday, Dec 19, 13 @ 11:16 am:

    Best Do-Gooder - Heather Eagleton at the American Cancer Society. Nothing can beat her down and she always has a smile on her face whether it be fighting for her cause in Springfield or in DC she is always there.

    Legislative Liaison - Even though she just retired I would have to vote for Dana Yowell. From her days on Senate Staff to the trenches at DCFS Dana was always the hardest working putting in the time and energy needed to get everything done and done right. You always wanted her on your team on a campaign (ask John Sullivan) or on legislation.


  6. - Grumpycat - Thursday, Dec 19, 13 @ 11:47 am:

    I don’t think there is a question on the best Liaison….Shannon Miller. She was the backbone at DPR and has stepped right into that position at CDB. She is one of the few go to people for the Gov office and they know she’ll do what is needed to get legislation drafted, roll calls finished, and does it all with a smile. Hands down simply the best!!!!


  7. - Dan Johnson - Thursday, Dec 19, 13 @ 11:48 am:

    I’m not sure exactly how to frame this, but I think the LGBT lobbyists should share the award for the best Do-Gooder Lobbyist. Rick Garcia ought to get the lifetime achievement award among the group, but there were others who joined him to make the historic push for marriage equality a reality — and negotiated the difficult terrain between an increasingly agitated constituency (which is good) and finding an effective role in the governing coalition that values consensus instead of confrontation. The high drama of Representative Harris announcing in May that the votes weren’t there and the willingness of the team of lobbyists to walk that difficult path of keeping the activist/donor base engaged and satisfied while deferring to the judgment of their legislative champions (with a public discussion along the way on tactics) was not easy but certainly proved effective.

    I think Sam Fields did a great job at IDOT this year — so good that the Governor’s Office poached her. At the bill signing ceremony for Senator Hunter’s DBE Revolving Loan Fund, the Secretary and the Senator called her out and essentially forced her to take some public acknowledgement for her efforts to bring this loan fund to fruition. It’s a tough policy puzzle to figure out (DBE firms tend to be less wealthy and thus have financing issues, but once they get a contract from the state, we as IDOT ought to be able to finance their first few months of operations if they don’t have the personal net worth to get credit lines since we’re paying for it anyway) and she did. I know she won’t like this public recognition either, but Sam’s got my vote.


  8. - Moving on - Thursday, Dec 19, 13 @ 11:55 am:

    Khadine Bennett from the ACLU. She is a tireless advocate– and I mean tireless. The woman makes me feel guilty for sleeping sometimes. She led the way on the sex ed bill, the anti-bullying bill and marriage equality, in addition to various privacy bills, criminal justice reforms and government transparency bills. That’s a heavy load to pull, and she does it consistently year after year, without getting deterred by the nay sayers.


  9. - Lobo Y Olla - Thursday, Dec 19, 13 @ 12:01 pm:

    Best Do- Gooder- Todd Belcore at Shriver Center. Always brings his “A” game. A passionate attorney who is giving up big, big $$$ to help the poor. The consummate gentleman.

    Best Legislative Liaison - If for no other reason, John Carroll at Cook county should win for his professionalism in that now infamous restorative Justice Committee committee hearing back in May. He took a heck of a beating. The fact he was a novice must give a certain former federal prosecutor (a freshman himself) a headache. In all seriousness, there wasn’t a crime bill debated or negotiated that he didn’t have a hand in. How many times did he testify on bills that weren’t his exactly? That’s a true sign of respect and trust from the Members. Sen. Raoul and Rep. Zalewski don’t suffer idiots. Heck, even Todd said some positive things this session about the “change” in the States attorneys office. Todd!?!


  10. - ANONYMAU5 - Thursday, Dec 19, 13 @ 12:12 pm:

    Best “Do-Gooder” - I’ll second the nomination of Kristen Strawbridge. Who would’ve thought th GA would ever pass a puppy lemon law? To get that bill through took serious effort.

    Best Legislative Liaison - my vote goes to Shannon Miller. She was rock solid at DFPR and recently moved to CDB. Shannon is part of Hannig’s swat team in the Governor’s office and can be counted on to get roll calls where they need to be. And she works well with legislators on both sides of the aisle, which is the essence of being a great liaison.


  11. - Down to Clown - Thursday, Dec 19, 13 @ 12:43 pm:

    Liaison - Shannon Miller. By far the most responsive and reliable of anyone. Was amazing at IDFPR and know she is rocking it at CDB.


  12. - dave - Thursday, Dec 19, 13 @ 12:52 pm:

    Do-gooder: I’ll second the Khadine Bennett nomination. I don’t know if there is a harder working lobbyist in Springfield, and she played significant roles in some of the harder pieces of legislation this year — marriage equality and sex ed. She also played big roles in a lot of areas — drones, bullying, DCFS budget, etc. She’s got a ton on her plate, and works hard to make sure that she wins.

    Liaison: I don’t know if there is a better liaison in the building than Randy Wells. His ability to juggle the absurd number of issues that DHS is involved in is impressive, and he does it while being a genuinely nice guy.


  13. - Yessiree - Thursday, Dec 19, 13 @ 12:57 pm:

    Best do-gooder lobbyist should go to Heather Eagleton. She keeps so many balls in the air for ACS, and as previously mentioned, is always cheerful and really knows her stuff.

    If constitutional liaisons count, Angela Ryan at S.O.S. is great to work with and goes above and beyond to resolve constituent issues.


  14. - Willie Stark - Thursday, Dec 19, 13 @ 12:58 pm:

    Sarah Wochos of the Environmental Law & Policy Center deserves the nod for the do-gooder lobbyist award. Day in and day out, Ms. Wochos puts the environmental lobby’s best foot forward, offering a friendly disposition and the ability to explain the arcana of energy, water, air pollution and recycling policies in everyday, accessible terms. She was a key player in getting strong, commonsense fracking regulations in place last spring. She also keeps her ego in check, which definitely cannot be said for all of her colleagues, and not infrequently must smooth things over with legislators who don’t take kindly to the high-handed, know-it-all style of some in the fight to protect mother earth.

    While others claim the glory and credit, Ms. Wochos keeps her nose to the grindstone and gets the job done. Based on years of effort and accomplishment, she deserves the honor for 2013.


  15. - Chicago Cynic - Thursday, Dec 19, 13 @ 1:03 pm:

    Best Do Gooder - Barry Matchett and Sarah Wochos of the Environmental Law and Policy Center. Nobody knows more and is more respected on issues like renewables, fracking and other related issues than this dynamic duo. How do we know that? Because they are the ones policy makers from Chicago to Springfield insist must be in the room when policy is being formulated. Don’t know how you can have a stronger recommendation than that.


  16. - Cletus Purcel - Thursday, Dec 19, 13 @ 1:21 pm:

    Working for Governor Quinn isn’t easy. He is not known for advancing a strong legislative agenda. However, his lack of legislative prowess is neutralized by his smart and dedicated legislative staff.
    I’ll admit Governor Quinn and Gary Hanning have assembled a fine crew of enforcers. Two top contenders are Big Nick Williams and Sara Meek. However, the legislative liaison who really stands out is Shannon Miller.
    Miller has an arsenal of impressive qualities. First, she is never afraid to take on new and challenging tasks. Second, she has built a platoon of support from both Chicago and Downstate Members. Last, she puts on a good face no matter how late or hard the day is.
    Shannon has Member’s questions answered quickly and accurately. She networks tirelessly. She handles work, family and an old Bitter cat like a pro – she doesn’t let the two affect each other.
    Northern Members like her. Southern Members understand her. Legislative staffers admire her.

    Shannon Miller is nominated.


  17. - Anonymous - Thursday, Dec 19, 13 @ 1:25 pm:

    For best liaison I have to go with Lisbeth Leanos with IDES. She’s truly top notch and always incredibly responsive. Some IDES cases can be insanely complicated, yet of the utmost critical importance to the wellbeing of constituents, and she will dig deep to find the answers in what can sometimes be a very formulaic and strict bureaucracy.

    If I get a second vote, or at least an “honorable mention”, it would be Joy Heckenkamp-Roate with DHS. She’s one of the few liaisons I have on speed dial. I can’t imagine having her job. DHS has been hit so hard with less resources and more work to do. While it can sometimes be difficult to get in touch with her, she’s always able to get back to you with a concise answer in a reasonable amount of time.


  18. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Dec 19, 13 @ 1:28 pm:

    Let’s all try to nominate in both categories, please. Thanks.


  19. - Dude - Thursday, Dec 19, 13 @ 2:23 pm:

    Liaison: I would vote for Shannon Miller. First at IDFPR now at CDB. The girl is everywhere, all the time. Works both sides of the aisle and has great relationships with the legislators and staff.

    Do Gooder Lobbyist: I would say Jason Keller with the AFL-CIO. He is so thorough and efficient. Stands up for the working man and woman like a storm trooper


  20. - Suburban Dad - Thursday, Dec 19, 13 @ 2:35 pm:

    Do Gooder - absolutely join in the nomination for Khadine Bennett at the ACLU. The sex ed reform bill languished for years without success. Khadine through sheer determination, the quiet force of her personality and persistence developed and protected the momentum that led to the measure being signed into law by the Governor. She also worked round-the-clock on marriage, literally talking to the toughest votes up until the 11th hour in a polite, respectful — yet unrelenting — tone. She is a force of nature.

    I join in the support for Miller for liaison.


  21. - Usually Skeptical - Thursday, Dec 19, 13 @ 2:45 pm:

    Best legislative liasion - Samantha Fields. Not only has she worked on IDOT issues, but she has done a fantastic job working on some of the governors issues that are totally un-transportation related (ie criminal justice) and done so always with calm ease. She also a fantastic job, always with great patience, gathering information for the Governor on bills that have passed both houses. She was an excellent choice for the Governor - thriving in all of that chaos!


  22. - Labralover - Thursday, Dec 19, 13 @ 2:51 pm:

    Khadine is an inspiration to many of us. Not only is she an extraordinarily smart and kind human being, she collaborates generously and patiently and makes us all better at what we do! She deserves recognition for being top notch!


  23. - Anonyswank - Thursday, Dec 19, 13 @ 3:16 pm:

    Must cosign on Samantha Fields for Legislative Liaison. She’s gotten the Governor’s Office and her agencies out of some tough situations…all while remaining graceful. We need more like her in the Capitol. A joy to talk to and work with.

    Bukola Bello for Do-Gooder Lobbyist. She deals with pensions almost as much as the Legislative Leaders. She is efficient, smart, and has great relationships with Members. I’d want her fighting for my retirement money.


  24. - Gator - Thursday, Dec 19, 13 @ 3:41 pm:

    Liaison: The best liaison is Caleb Melamed from the Illinois gaming board. Representing the gaming board is probably not the funnest thing to do in the Capitol and light of the Chairman’s bombastic comments. However, Caleb is able to hold his own and always has the right answer. You’d expect nothing else from a former Madigan tech review attorney.

    Do Gooder Lobbyist: Rey Lopez-Calderon from Common Cause. They are doing a great job of pushing for change and reform while operating within the legislative process. Similar groups choose to ignore the legislative process and run to the Chicago Tribune with a press release pant time they have a “great idea”. We will be seeing big things from Rey and his group in the future.


  25. - 4 percent - Thursday, Dec 19, 13 @ 4:06 pm:

    Do Gooder - It has to be Matt Paprocki at the Illinois Policy Institute, right? I mean, they are not an association of members but simply a small, mom and pop think tank that’s fighting for baseball, apple pie and a free market approach with great success.

    Best Liason: Jim Nichelson at the Department of Revenue. He gets stuck in some ugly and difficult battles but manages to work with all sides in a fair manner. He’s quiet and unassuming but handles a bigger load than most.


  26. - Ann - Thursday, Dec 19, 13 @ 4:07 pm:

    Do-gooder has to go to the AIDS Foundation’s Ramon Gardenhire. There’s no reason the Medicaid expansion should have been tough in this blue state, but it was, and there’s no reason, with all the hospitals and social service agencies that stood to benefit, why the lobbyist for the AIDS Foundation should have been the one taking the lead, but he did, and did a great job even when the long term care industry was getting all nasty and threatening the whole thing unless they got something out of it. He stuck to it, kept his coalition calm, and helped make it happen.

    Ramon’s also the lobbyist who finally got the odious HIV principal notification bill repealed after repeated unsuccessful attempts, and got it completely repealed, not just amended which for a long time had looked like the best that could happen. He’s a quiet persistent worker with the patience of a saint but the determination of a bulldog.


  27. - Rail Sitter - Thursday, Dec 19, 13 @ 4:14 pm:

    Jason Keller is a great choice for lobbyist. Life is much easier for the single issue lobbyist than it is for someone with a legislative agenda like Mr Keller. He moves from issue to issue building coalitions with groups at the same time they are fighting on other fronts. He can do this because he is smart, professional and respected by all who’ve worked with him.

    As far as liaison’s go the gold standard is JBT’s team. They have a reputation for fast and effective service. They’ll have you question answered or problem solved a week before some liaisons will even return your call. Jeff Scott is a stand out on a very strong staff. Look at their legislative agenda for the past few years. They’ve moved more legislation than just about any other entity in the state. You can see the results in transparency and constituent service.


  28. - Randall - Thursday, Dec 19, 13 @ 4:29 pm:

    Shannon Miller does do a great job. She works extremely hard, and she is always available around the capitol. I haven’t worked with her at CBD, but she always was great with IDFPR.

    Best “do-gooder” lobbyist: As much as it pains me to mention this group (or even call them “do gooders”)—Matt Paprocki with the Illinois Policy Institute. Quite frankly, one year ago, I had no idea who the Illinois Policy Institute was. Now I hear about them and see them everywhere at the capitol- whether I like it or not.


  29. - Anonymous - Thursday, Dec 19, 13 @ 4:59 pm:

    Sam Tuttle for do gooder. She works on plenty of housing issues and constantly has to go up against the banks. She knows the foreclosure law inside and out and goes toe to toe with the banking industry.


  30. - Anon - Thursday, Dec 19, 13 @ 5:56 pm:

    For leg liaison, Sam Fields is by far the standout on the Govs staff and among the agency liaisons. She is very smart, extremely hard working and understands the process. Sam has great relationships among Chicago legislators and has worked well with downstate and suburban members as well, on both sides of the aisle and in both chambers.

    As for do-gooder, Khadine is also a standout. She covers lots of issues and knows her stuff.


  31. - Doug Stamper - Thursday, Dec 19, 13 @ 6:14 pm:

    Liaison: Kim Janas (IWCC). She does everything for them. She is their liaison, their legal counsel, and she is an expert on Worker’s Comp (In fact I think she wrote some of the reform law). She also has a working knowledge of their budget, which unfortunately most liaisons just don’t have. And in a place where you need your question answered and you need it answered yesterday, she is always quick to respond.

    Do-gooder: Jason Keller. Put simply he’s Mr. Labor.


  32. - First Timer - Thursday, Dec 19, 13 @ 6:29 pm:

    I have never posted on this blog before, but after reading the nomination of Matt Paprocki, I decided to comment.

    I work in a Congressional office in DC, and Matt is one of the few state-based lobbyists to call our office and work with us on a regular basis. He is one of the few calls that we receive that the first question is, ‘is there anything I can do to help you and your office?’ When 99% of the calls we receive are asking for something, its extremely refreshing and I believe, he genuinely wants to help. For that reason, I fully endorse Mr. Paprocki for best do good lobbyist.

    As far as Illinois liaisons, I do not know enough information to comment.


  33. - Dawn Clark Netsch's Frayed Pocket IL Constitution - Thursday, Dec 19, 13 @ 7:32 pm:

    Do Gooder:

    Kristen Strawbridge is the best choice. She somehow turned a third-rail issue for Sen. Brady into something he wound up being someone proud of which was a very shrewd move on her part. She was a tireless worker on this issue which, by the way, was basically the General Assembly’s banner achievement for several months before the avalanche of big bills that came through. This was a challenging session to get anything through, especially when things could easily be brushed off as “unimportant” compared to other items on the agenda but she never wavered and really pulled together a bi-partisan consensus. The Puppy Lemon Law helps make Illinois a leader in the area which is always good. Kudos to her.


  34. - javajunkie - Thursday, Dec 19, 13 @ 7:40 pm:

    The best legislative liaison is Randy Wells. He is always available, regardless of the hour or the day. Randy treats everyone with respect, including legislative staff, and always finds the answer to every single question he is asked. He is knowledgeable of a vast subject matter and a genuinely kind person. DHS, and the Governor’s office, are lucky to have him on their team.

    The best do-gooder lobbyist is Dave Lowitzki with SEIU. He played an integral part in CCP reform, gay marriage, and many other issues of which he is a quiet force. Dave is incredibly intelligent and the last person to boast. He is a pleasure to work with and a strong voice for his members.


  35. - Gingham Mittens - Thursday, Dec 19, 13 @ 7:52 pm:

    Randy Wells with DHS is without a doubt the best liaison. First, he knows his subject matter, this while easily taken for granted is not a common trait. He can quickly and correctly answer questions without taking days to search for the information. In the middle of May this alone is something worthy of a golden horseshoe. However, Randy is the best for so many more reasons than this. He is passionate, understands how the Capitol functions, and is willing to do the work to get a bill passed. Perhaps most importantly, he is a team player. I cannot count the amount of times that Randy has taken the wrath of angry committee members and lobbyists in order to protect the Governor or Secretary. He is the best on their team and has truly served them well. This task is of course made especially difficult considering he works for DHS. I do not believe there has been a slow or quiet year for DHS since Randy started working for them. Whether it is a dismal budget, the closure of a state facility, a heart breaking abuse case, or the lack of staffing at field offices Randy is the one explaining it and often times taking the heat for it. He does all of this with an enviable sense of humor. I truly cannot think of anyone more deserving than Randy.

    While there are many amazing do-gooder lobbyists, I would have to say that this year the golden horseshoe should go to Dave Lowitzki with SEIU. He works hard, gets politics, and understands that in tough budget years you are not going to get everything you want. This year he had his plate full, he helped with Same-Sex Marriage, CCP reform, and Medicaid Expansion just to name a few of his projects. He is constantly juggling a million things but is still willing to offer a helping hand.


  36. - 2 great guys... - Thursday, Dec 19, 13 @ 8:19 pm:

    Dave Lowitzki is a great nomination for do-gooder. Dave’s hard work on marriage equality was not a matter of self-interest for his employer, just the right thing to do. He’s a bright thinker for the whole progressive community, and a great guy to boot who is inclusive and interested in movement building.

    For legislative liaison I will nominate Mike Ziri for IDNR/recently moved to IEPA. Last year Mike worked for bipartisan consensus around a fee increase in an election year to put IDNR on sound financial footing, and this year he was on point for dealing with all the strong and variant opinions on fracking among the public and the interest groups.


  37. - Inthenews2 - Thursday, Dec 19, 13 @ 9:00 pm:

    Do -gooder- my vote is for Mike Pollak. He is nice and very easy to work with. For years, he has tried to pass medical marijuana and his efforts finally paid off. From medical marijuana to marriage equality, Mike was constantly working his roll calls this year.

    Liaison - my vote is for Bresha Brewer. I know she is last years winner, but her work on medical marijuana is one of the reasons Lang was finally able to pass the bill. She was the behind the scenes person who researched and drafted the Department of Agriculture’s language and part of the team that made Illinois’s bill the best in the US.


  38. - PositronCollider - Thursday, Dec 19, 13 @ 9:35 pm:

    Best Do-Gooder Lobbyist is definitely Dave Lowitzki of SEIU. I notice a recent trend for this awesome lobbyist, and must concur with their comments. He is incredibly capable and a joy to work with and have a drink with after a hard day in the capitol. He and his bartender Adam can always be found haunting the No Name Bar after a long day of fighting the good fight.

    Best liaison for Randy Wells of DHS, another great guy to work with who takes his job seriously, but not himself. He is always knowledgeable and there to help when you need him, a really great guy - a truly great person to work with.


  39. - Hack - Thursday, Dec 19, 13 @ 10:02 pm:

    Do-gooder: Mike Houlihan. I know you think I’m joking, but he is the only “real” lobster who gets invited to the do-gooder caucus.

    Liaison: Clearly Sam Fields. She made an immediate impact when she moved to the Governor’s Office last spring and started working the floor. Her poise, intelligence, and character are unmatched.


  40. - GH-er for GH-noms - Thursday, Dec 19, 13 @ 10:15 pm:

    Best do-gooder would have to be Phil Milsk and his colleague Susy Woods. The issues they work collectively are always complex yet they never get tired of the mission. Advocating for individuals with disabilities or premature babies, truly a voice in the capitol for the voiceless. I believe they are in the business to do good, and not rake in a bunch of cash January through May. Between that and actually making a difference in peoples lives through policy and their work with legislators, they deserve the golden horseshoe.

    Best liaison has to go to Randy Wells. Keeping in mind he is not just the liaison but Deputy Chief of Staff with all of those responsibilities as well speaks a lot about his load. He is always on his way somewhere, meeting with someone, putting out a fire, or getting ready to take one on the chin for his agency. He is not just a political hack, but comes from a social service background and lives and breathes the issues DHS deals with everyday. He works well with legislators, staffs, and everyone else around the rail and had contributed to all of the biggest bills this year in some way, shape or form. Concealed carry, check; medical cannabis, check; pension reform, check; same sex marriage, check; still dealing with medicaid reforms from last year, check; state facility closures, triple check; budget cuts… you get the idea. The Golden Horseshoe should clearly go to Randy Wells!


  41. - buffalo soldier - Thursday, Dec 19, 13 @ 10:58 pm:

    I enthusiastically nominate Colleen Daley for the 2013 Golden Horseshoe “Do-Gooder Lobbyist”. Colleen is an intelligent and passionate advocate who fought the good fight in a battle where the odds were stacked against her. She logged numerous hours and held many meetings to delay and perhaps thwart the seemingly inevitable. With the clock and the political calculus tipped against her position, she remained a brave and resolute champion in the just cause of making our streets and communities safer for us all. I am heartened and I am emboldened to push just a little bit a little harder in my own crusade for peace and justice because of advocates like Colleen.

    I nominate Kimberly Janas for the 2013 Golden Horseshoe “Best Legislative Liaison”. Most legislative liaisons are singularly tasked to shepherd or stall legislation pertinent to their agency or department. Most liaisons, however, do not manage a staff, craft budgets, or negotiate contracts. Those duties, on their own, would challenge most other folk. But Kimberly Janas ain’t most other folk. Yielding mastery on an issue that many speak on but few speak well on, Ms. Janas is a resource to both sides of the aisle, both sides of the rotunda, and both sides of the courtroom. She is trustworthy, creative, and immeasurably sharp. Kimberly juggles more than most with the best of ‘em, yet always has time for a smile and a kind word. A consummate professional, she is a role model to young women and men that work under the dome. Though it’s not her official title, I believe she is this year’s best legislative liaison.


  42. - Anon - Thursday, Dec 19, 13 @ 11:04 pm:

    I second Mike Houlihan for the do gooder lobbyist. His Jesuit upbringing shines through with each magical feat of kindness. His humility really shines through the statehouse egos. Nobody else can eat two gyros in his truck, then go lobby on behalf of the neediest Illinoisans. Inspirational! For liaison, I have to vote for randy wells. Knows the issues and the politics. He could run that agency tomorrow, and probably should!


  43. - Rayne of Terror - Friday, Dec 20, 13 @ 8:12 am:

    This is a tough one because there are SO many talented and hardworking people to choose from. I’m going to second Dana Yowell and Jason Keller. Demuzio knew what he was doing when he brought Dana to Springfield. Jason Keller is so kind and understated.


  44. - Anon - Friday, Dec 20, 13 @ 8:37 am:

    Kristin Strawbridge gets my vote for beat do-gooder. She works hard for a cause that’s not necessarily on legislators’ radars given the myrate of troubles facing this state, and she’s still able to get big issues heard, like the Lemon Law.

    For liason, it’s a tie between Shannon Miller and Kim Janas. Shannon Miller gets the job done, never dulling her incredible sense of humor, and more importantly she is always 100% honest. Kim Janas is possibly one of the hardest workers - and most under appreciated people in the business. She wears many hats, is incredibly intelligent, and retains utmost professionalism at all times.


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