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Polar vortex snowmageddon 2014 snark

Tuesday, Jan 7, 2014

* Context provided in a press release issued yesterday…

- Due to the severe winter storm and dangerously low temperatures and wind chills that have followed, causing hazardous conditions across Illinois, Governor Pat Quinn today implemented the State’s Continuity of Operations/Continuity of Government Plans (COOP/COG). The inter-agency plans will ensure continued delivery of critical state response services during the severe winter weather conditions while ensuring the safety of the state’s workforce. State government employees – except those serving in critical government functions – are instructed to stay home on Monday, Jan. 6.

“As we continue to monitor weather conditions and work nonstop to respond to this winter storm, we will ensure that critical state services continue,” said Governor Quinn. “To protect the safety of our employees and the people they serve, I am directing state employees whose duties are not critical to state services to stay home and off the roads on Monday.”

The COOP/COG ensures that employees responsible for continuity of operations observe the hours needed to guarantee continued delivery and availability of essential public health and safety state services, including: Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs (IDVA) Veterans’ Homes, Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) central health centers and centers for the developmentally disabled, Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) youth centers, Illinois Department of Corrections (DOC) correctional institutions, as well as the Illinois State Police (ISP), Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and the Illinois Department of Central Management Services (CMS).

The Governor also today made a disaster declaration due to the severe winter weather and activated the Illinois National Guard to provide aid.

* And the resulting snark, passed off as straight news by Illinois Watchdog, which was picked up by the Fox News channel for obvious reasons

Snow plow drivers, state troopers, prison guards and Gov. Pat Quinn (and his spokespeople) are apparently just about all the state government Illinois needs.

In the grasp of a “polar vortex,” Illinois closed state government offices and told all non-essential government workers to stay home.

“We said to all of those in critical response, ‘You gotta be here,’” Quinn said at an apparently critical news conference in Chicago on Monday. “My job is to be here when people really need our help…I think it’s important that our government be here when people need us.”

But that begs the question, who is a non-essential government worker?

Thousands of people who answer phones in the massive state bureaucracy were told to stay home. Same with the folks who sell license plates and the people who run Illinois’ universities. Even the folks implementing Obamacare got a day off because they are not needed.


* Also, here’s the full audio of Quinn’s presser…

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - concern1 - Tuesday, Jan 7, 14 @ 9:05 am:

    Quinn is the one that should have stayed home…talk about a non essential person…that would be the mightyless quinn

  2. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jan 7, 14 @ 9:05 am:

    Lots of business were completely non-essential yesterday. I guess that means any business that closed yesterday should never re-open.

  3. - Cassiopeia - Tuesday, Jan 7, 14 @ 9:05 am:

    Quinn wakes up every day to suddenly discover that he is the Governor….and then sort of makes things up as he goes about his “duties”.

  4. - Secret Square - Tuesday, Jan 7, 14 @ 9:14 am:

    Perhaps a better and more accurate term to use than “non-essential” employees would be “non-emergency” or “non-critical” employees. They are “essential” for normal, everyday operations but don’t absolutely have to report for work in a short-term emergency situation.

  5. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jan 7, 14 @ 9:18 am:

    This is part of an email sent to employees, at 9:00 A.M., a full half hour after their work day would begin, and they were already at work. Who neds to think up snark when we have Quinn on top of everything.

    “Based on National Weather Service warnings and hazardous travel conditions, state government employees - except those serving in continuity of government functions - are instructed to stay home on Monday, Jan. 6. Regular state operations will resume on Tuesday, January 7, but employees should keep checking, later today, for updates.”

    This email was sent to all employees, at 9:56 P.M. on Sunday telling employees to report to work. Three cheers for our great leader, Governor Quinn.

    “As a general matter, State offices under the jurisdiction of the Governor will be open tomorrow, Monday, January 6, 2014. An emergency work site shut-down requires prior approval of the Director of Central Management Services or may be directed by the Governor’s Office. Many of IDHS local offices are utilized as warming centers during these artic temperatures. We appreciate your assistance in helping keep Illinois citizens without power or shelter safe. Any office closures will be made on an individual basis and employees will be notified. Employees may also check the status of their local office on the IDHS Website at

  6. - AFSCME Steward - Tuesday, Jan 7, 14 @ 9:19 am:

    That last post was me3.

  7. - Small Town Liberal - Tuesday, Jan 7, 14 @ 9:21 am:

    You’re a joke, Cassi. Maybe you could ask some of the hundreds of folks stranded on I-57 Sunday night if they appreciated Governor Quinn activating the National Guard to clear the 5 jackknifed semis off the highway.

  8. - Judgment Day - Tuesday, Jan 7, 14 @ 9:22 am:

    Our illustrious Governor apparently hasn’t quite recovered from the holidays…

    Where’s the obligatory references to….

    “night and day” (or “day and night”)

    Looks like you need to send your spokesperson(s) to remedial cliche school….

  9. - Huh? - Tuesday, Jan 7, 14 @ 9:23 am:

    I noticed that IDOT is not part of the list essential to the public health and safety state services.

  10. - Upon Further Review - Tuesday, Jan 7, 14 @ 9:34 am:

    In other news, in a show of bipartisanship, Republican Terrance Goggin was appointed as Quinn’s new Emergency Management spokesperson and tasked with contacting state workers about government closures due to the weather.

  11. - Grandson of Man - Tuesday, Jan 7, 14 @ 9:50 am:

    I saw a news video of how bad Interstate 65 was in Indiana yesterday, with the reporter stating that Illinois’ roads were in better shape than Indiana’s. I just checked a map, and it appears that the snow totals in northwest Indiana and across in Illinois are about the same. Let’s give credit to our road crews and other government emergency workers, who are vilified by the likes of Fox News but who provide us with vital services.

    “But that begs the question, who is a non-essential worker?”

    What are we, five years old? It pretty much didn’t stop snowing since New Year’s Eve in Chicagoland and possibly in other locations. After that, we got hit with a massive cold punch. We got the worst of both worlds. It’s reasonable that non-emergency workers got the day off. I know of private sector workers who told not to come to work yesterday and businesses that were closed yesterday.

  12. - Leave a Light on George - Tuesday, Jan 7, 14 @ 10:04 am:

    CMS essential in a blizzard! That’s a good one.

  13. - Empty Suit - Tuesday, Jan 7, 14 @ 10:07 am:

    Non-essential workers = Governor, Lt Governor, General Assembly,
    every government agency except IDOT and ING.

  14. - Empty Suit - Tuesday, Jan 7, 14 @ 10:09 am:

    ..oh yeah and apparently Rich Miller since he was stuck in an airport in Atlanta.

  15. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Jan 7, 14 @ 10:11 am:

    ==every government agency except IDOT and ING.==

    Huh? I hope that was snark. I would prefer to have people staffing prisons, veteran’s homes, state mental health facilities, police on the roads.

  16. - dupage dan - Tuesday, Jan 7, 14 @ 10:14 am:

    I don’t know what is funnier, Cassiopeia’s comment about the accidental, groundhog day, governor we have or STL’s fierce defense of the gov when he exercised his considerable intellectual and management expertise and made a phone call to the IL National Guard.

  17. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Jan 7, 14 @ 10:16 am:

    I quit watching cable news, though if I feel the need to get a dose of “Obama is the devil” I’ll flip over to Fox News and if I want to hear how conservatives are the anti-Christ I’ll take a stroll over to MSNBC. I think the FCC should ban them from using the word “news” in any context.

  18. - Stones - Tuesday, Jan 7, 14 @ 10:22 am:

    Interestingly, many ISP civilian employees were told not to report yesterday EXCEPT for those who process fingerprints for Concealed Carry. They are being offered overtime.

  19. - Dawg - Tuesday, Jan 7, 14 @ 10:32 am:

    Just another example of how the “Watchdog” is actually the fox in the hen house. Why any news editor runs that garbage is beyond me.

  20. - Snucka - Tuesday, Jan 7, 14 @ 11:23 am:

    The ISP just put out an alert for several counties down south. Lots of capital letters and warnings of LIFE THREATENING DANGER. Should people really be reporting to non-emergency jobs?

  21. - Stuff Happens - Tuesday, Jan 7, 14 @ 11:35 am:

    At the University of Illinois we were told not to come in, but we had to use a vacation day. So it was a day off, but not at the expense of the state.

  22. - Former Merit Comp Slave - Tuesday, Jan 7, 14 @ 12:05 pm:

    Stuff Happens, there is an Executive Order that covers that. If the Governors office tells you to stay home, it’s classified as a “weather day” and you don’t have to burn your own time. Executive orders can be found on SOI web site and your payroll dept should be aware of that

  23. - Stuff Happens - Tuesday, Jan 7, 14 @ 12:32 pm:

    I’m not going to go against the Chancellor; I need my job. :D

    Here’s the first campus-wide email from Chancellor Phyllis Wise.

    “Unless your function is critical, you should not report to work this afternoon, tonight or tomorrow (Monday). Employees who do not work must use personal time (vacation, floating holiday, accrued comp time) or take an excused, unpaid absence.”

    And the second:

    “I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your understanding throughout this weather emergency. I understand that instructing you to stay away from work can create a hardship for some employees. Please know that we have worked hard to provide a generous benefit package of vacation, holidays, sick and personal leave time well above the Big Ten average. Vacation and floating holidays provide for situations such as the one we faced this week.”

  24. - Irish - Tuesday, Jan 7, 14 @ 12:43 pm:

    At IDNR we have roads that are accesses for other agencies and the public. Those have to be maintained by DNR staff. We also have areas that have lodges that have guests. All utilities, services, and infrastructure, that support those areas have to be monitored. If the power goes out in any facility those that are responsible for well pumps, water supplies, heating, etc. are all DNR employees. If we have hunters that come out and use a site we have to have staff available in case they have problems. My staff and myself worked Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, for all the above reasons, as did many other DNR employees.

    DNR staff respond to emergencies many times whether it is to provide snowmobiles, ATYs or four wheel drive vehicles to rescue stranded motorists , or boats and equipment to rescue folks in floods.

    We don’t sit on picnic tables in the shade all the time.

  25. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Jan 7, 14 @ 1:13 pm:

    @Former Merit Comp Slave:

    I don’t think the Governor can tell universities what to do. Besides, CMS hasn’t even come out with guidance yet as to whether state employees have to use benefit time for yesterday. We have been told guidance is forthcoming.

  26. - 3rd Generation Chicago Native - Tuesday, Jan 7, 14 @ 1:21 pm:

    We have to Thank those who spent extended periods of time outside clearing paths for the rest of us.

  27. - sal-says - Tuesday, Jan 7, 14 @ 2:09 pm:

    – But that begs the question, who is a non-essential government worker? –

    Uhhh….pretty much every elected official & political appointee?

  28. - Sangamo Sam - Tuesday, Jan 7, 14 @ 2:16 pm:

    I think “non-essential government worker” is a poor descriptor. It leads to snark like that.

    How about putting on your “bureaucratic speak” thinking bathrobes my former brethren? How about instead of saying “all non-essential government workers should stay home”. Let’s flip it around and say who SHOULD report:

    “Only Senior Interactions Administrators, Dynamic Operations Orchestrators, Senior Tactics Managers (including Central Response Specialists) and Senior and Associate Accountability Facilitators should report to work. Additional staff will be asked to report once the Governor determines their essentialness relative to the current situation and reassesses his assessment of the current and ongoing variables, upon which time he will make further announcements about this state of affairs and who should report to work which is vital to the wellbeing of the hardworking people of Illinois.”

  29. - Guidance - Tuesday, Jan 7, 14 @ 3:32 pm:

    I received an email yesterday saying we don’t have to use benefit time for yesterday but we will have to for today!

  30. - Anon. - Tuesday, Jan 7, 14 @ 4:26 pm:

    I’m essential! I can handle things! I’m smart! Not like everybody says… like dumb… I’m smart and I want respect!

  31. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Jan 7, 14 @ 11:29 pm:

    Well done Anon. Very well done.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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