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The legacy

Tuesday, Aug 19, 2008 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Getting his son appointed to the November ballot will, at least in the short term, do even further damage to Senate President Emil Jones’ public perception and to his legacy

Following the lead of political families like the Strogers and Lipinskis, Illinois Senate President Emil Jones is anointing one of his children to take over for him when he retires in January.

Jones, 72, began the process of handing off his Senate seat to Emil Jones III by filing paperwork Monday with the State Board of Elections to drop himself from the Nov. 4 ballot. Next, Democratic Party leaders in Jones’ South Side and south suburban Senate district will choose a replacement. […]

Despite not having a college degree, [Emil Jones III] was hired in April 2007 as an administrator for Gov. Blagojevich’s Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity — a job that pays $59,436 annually.

* As I told you yesterday, Jones can legally withdraw about $577K from his campaign fund, and then there’s the pension bump

As one of the longest-serving members of the General Assembly, Jones also is positioned for a healthy pension. If he does not take any other state positions and retires at the end of his term in January, he would begin drawing a state pension of $81,016 annually. A year later, he would see that total increase by 48 percent because he would be grandfathered in under an otherwise defunct retirement formula that rewarded service beyond 20 years.

The boost for Jones, who has served in the General Assembly 35 years, would take his pension all the way up to $119,903 a year. That’s nearly 26 percent more than the $95,313 he is now being paid to wield the Senate gavel. It’s also more than double the median amount that two households in his Senate district earn combined, according to 2000 Census data.

* Phil Kadner takes a look at Jones’ long-term legacy and doesn’t like what he sees

In describing Jones’ tenure as Senate president, one Springfield reporter wrote that he “long championed more money for school and education funding reform and made them his top priorities.”

I can’t agree with that.

I would have to say that Jones talked about those things and how important they were for most of his 25 years in the Senate. […]

Jones has made his preference clear. He wants his son to take his Senate seat.

That’s the Chicago way.

So at least one Chicago child can thank Jones for helping him.

As for the rest of the kids in Illinois, they simply chose the wrong parents.

Thanks for the public education, Senator Jones.

* Yesterday’s press release announcing Jones’ retirement highlighted what he considered to be his biggest accomplishments…

Under President Jones’ leadership in Fiscal Year 2008 education received the largest one-year increase in per student funding in the history of the state — $400 per student — $600 million overall in education funding. From 2003 to present, a $196 million increase was provided to early childhood education funding.

President Jones also shepherded the passage of one of the most comprehensive reform measures of the criminal justice system in the history of the State through the Illinois Senate. Among the many substantive changes to the criminal justice system spearheaded by Senator Jones was legislation to videotape interrogations in capital cases. This single piece of legislation put Illinois at the forefront of the nation as the first state to require that interrogations in capital cases be videotaped.

All good, but Jones never accomplished his oft stated goal of a serious restructuring of education funding. If that doesn’t happen by January, he may be soon forgotten.



  1. - Wumpus - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 10:23 am:

    Does an administrator for Gov. Blagojevich’s Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity require a college degree per its job posting? Did it require one a few weeks before EJIII was hired?

    Good job on the Videotaping police interrogations. Given Chciago’s history, much needed.

    Thats the Chicago way…a line from The Untouchables is ringing true once again.

  2. - Ravenswood Right Winger - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 10:26 am:

    The “I need a pay raise” quote, his ridicule of State Sen. Susan Garrett, and his subsequent vote of “present” on rejecting the pay raises is an appropriate summary of his legacy.

  3. - Ghost - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 10:30 am:

    As a stand alone point, I do not have a problem with Jones wanting to appoint his son; or any political leader helping their child enter into and participate in the family buisness.

    That said, I think there is a lot of fodder out there over whether Emil Jones III is a quailfied or apporpriate canidate. It would be better to discuss things like his overall lack of experience, problems getting to work on time etc. WHile it will never happen, this passage of torch from father to son does not happen in isolation. The dem party leaders are supposed to sit as a check on Jones desire to pass the torch, and the consideration of the qualifications of possible canidates.

    Jones can not just pass the torch, there is a process which is supposed to vet and seek out the best possible canidate to replace Jones. if that process fails I would not dump it on Jones, who is doing what any parent should do, push to help their kids, it should be dropped at the feet of the Dem leaders who are making the decision, and are responsible for putting forth the best canidate.

    The reporting on this is a bit misleading, many accounts read like Jones is the decisionmaker. technically he is not. Jones is a dad who has a right, like any other parent or memebr of the public, to push his choice. The Dem leaders should earn their titles as leader and make leadership decisions. Any failure to vet or find a qulaified individual does not fall on the parent, but on those who are charged with making the responsible decision.

  4. - Steve - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 10:32 am:

    Jones accomplished his goals:making a good buck.Everything else is just hot air.Going into government is a good racket for many.

  5. - grand old partisan - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 10:34 am:

    Emil Jones’s legacy will be that he personally embodied almost every negative attribute of “Chicago politics.” He cared more about his family and friends than the people who elected him and paid his salary, and his utter lack of respect for the later was apparent and appalling.

  6. - Greg - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 10:35 am:

    After today’s Sun-Times cover, money and nepotism will be all of Emil Jones known by the vast majority of Illinois.

  7. - Truthful James - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 10:36 am:

    Emil Jones does not give a damn about his legacy as a legislator.

    He does care greatly about providing for every living relative, now including his son.

    If everything holds EJIII will follow in his father’s footsteps and do nothing of note other than spending the state’s money for whatever the favored lobbyists most demand.

    Government in Illinois is startu=ing to recognize the political caste with right of primogeniture.

    The voters in his District deserve whomever they elect. Unfortunately it eventually affects the rest of us.

    Question for the group — is there anyone in Emil’s extended family who does not work in the public trough or is not supported by appropriations from the trough. People below the age of 19 do not count.

  8. - Captian Flume - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 10:36 am:

    I wonder if Com-Ed has a trust fund set up somewhere for him?

    As for his inheriting his senate seat, only if he is elected will that happen. That family hand-off is not necessarily just the “Chicago way,” though. Similar transitions have happened in the not-too-distant-past in Moline and Carlinville, with those senators having been elected for a term subsequent to a legacy appointment.

  9. - Greg - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 10:37 am:

    –It’s also more than double the median amount that two households in his Senate district earn combined, according to 2000 Census data.–

    Wow, that’s a rough sentence. Can’t we just say 4x median household income in district?

  10. - Vote Quimby! - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 10:40 am:

    ==Can’t we just say 4x median household income in district?==
    Nah….must be some of that ‘hyperlocal’ stuff they’re feeding us now.

  11. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 10:46 am:

    I suspect his legacy may be that of Blago’s most important ally — and that story isn’t finished yet.

  12. - Anonymous45 - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 10:48 am:

    the sooner he is forgotten, the better…terrible public servant…

  13. - Ghost - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 10:49 am:

    Jones did himself real damage when he broke his word to madigan on last years budget deal. To me his legacy is as the first leader to openly break his word on a budget deal. It has lead as much to the problems we have today as anything Blago has done. its tough to get work done in the legislature if the leaders can not be relied upon to keep their promises on a deal.

  14. - North of I-80 - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 10:52 am:

    Gets to keep $577,000 from his campaign fund? Why can he/anyone of these people keep ANY of it? Campaigning for what? If he donated it to the schools in his district, paid for 10 teachers or cops for his district, he would be considered serving his people.

  15. - BandCamp - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 11:13 am:

    Dropping your kid into a state Senate seat just for the sake of leaving/continuing whatever legacy EJ has is nuts. I have no problem with handpicking someone who he thinks is qualified and debating the merits of that person. Electing someone who isn’t (or has the appearance) qualified is knock on voters. Put EJIII in another district where he had to run against someone on his own merits? Yah, good luck with that one.

    I agree with the comment about granting some of that money in his fund to a school in his district or the like. His fat pension ensures his food stamp days are behind him.

    EJ hasn’t been the worst or lackluster politico over the past few decades, that’s for sure. But his last few years don’t define him as I am sure he would like to be defined.

    Furloughs, lay-offs, forced early retirements, declining economy, watching the very people who cover his activities being laid off…and his insensitive comment about “needing” a raise?

    To me, that defines the type of person EJ ‘really’ is when the rubber meets the road…selfish.

  16. - Team Sleep - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 11:42 am:

    Kadner and all of the commenters here are right. Emil took care of himself and his family before he ever considered his constituents and the well-being of the state. You can argue that his continued insistence on pumping more $$$ into education was like a contractor duct-taping a gutter to stop water from coming out one of the ends: the “expert” was merely patching up a problem that was bigger than what money and face time could solve.

    Vince Demuzio was my state senator while I was growing up. While my family and I were always on the opposite side of Vince, we loved the guy and I miss him. I will always contend that Vince should have been Senate President instead of Emil and that the Statehouse plunged into disarray the day Vince died. Vince managed that place well and Emil ran it into the ground.

    I know that is a harsh assessment, but Illinois is in a terrible bind.

  17. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 11:46 am:

    ===we loved the guy and I miss him.===

    I miss Vince Demuzio every day.

    He didn’t have to be Senate President to have averted his mess. Vince was the one non-sycophant of all those in Jones’ inner circle. Jones respected Demuzio and listened to him.

    Nobody is ever irreplaceable in politics, but Vince Demuzio’s death was a tragedy for this state and all its people.

  18. - cynically anonymous - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 11:53 am:

    I think his greatest accomplishment was getting his wife a job and salary of $187,000 at DHS.

  19. - One of the 35 - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 12:11 pm:

    I will always remember Jones as the guy who enabled Governor Blagojevich by refusing to allow the Senate to vote on key issues. That memory in the minds of Illinois citizens may come back to haunt him, if and when the governor faces the feds.

  20. - Truthful James - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 12:30 pm:

    Jones did not and does not give a damn about Education or most issues. His actions were designed to maximize his lobbyist take and in the end be able to take a pot of gold home with him.

    His actions and those of the Rev. Sen. Meeks were designed to paint over the unacted upon responsibilities of the families in his District and blame someone else. In another day we would have called it chutzpah.

    He was and is a plantation foreman. I look prayerfully towards a new growing set of black political leaders from the wards up who can find it in themselves to push for the regeneration of the family structure, by their example and the laws they enact.

  21. - Disappointed. - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 12:40 pm:

    Another aspect of EJIII potentially taking his father’s senate seat:

    Shame on EJIII for taking a position through his father. Does EJIII not have self-respect that he advance on his own merits? Anyone who would allow your parent to push such an underhanded scheme is doubly suspect.

  22. - BannedForLife - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 12:53 pm:

    I think Kadner deserves a link

  23. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 12:54 pm:

    Oops. Thanks for reminding me. Saw that I didn’t link and then got sidetracked by the Obama stuff.

  24. - Bruno Behrend - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 1:07 pm:

    The only legacy Emil Jones deserves is for him to become the poster-boy for voting “Yes” in November.

    We may not have the budget of the “Alliance to Protect Emil Jones’ right to anoint his son as his Successor,” but at least our arguments make sense, as virtually every headline indicates.

    Emil Jones doesn’t HAVE a legacy Emil Jones, like G. Ryan, Rod B., IS the legacy left us by our patently awful Constitution.

  25. - Old Shepherd - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 1:09 pm:

    I don’t know if this is a positive accomplishment or not, but Senator Jones has indeed raised the profile of the position of Senate President among your average voter. Prior to Sen. Jones, how many average voters could name the Illinois Senate President?

  26. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 1:16 pm:


    Attributing to the Jones genes the ability to feel shame is a reach.

  27. - Truthful James - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 1:18 pm:

    My apologies to the group. I had to clean my computer and therefoe lost all the automatic cookies.

    I am the Anonymous who replied to Disappointed above.

    Regret — and am ashamed for — the error.

  28. - Arthur Andersen - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 1:39 pm:

    Team Sleep, excellent but sad post. Vince and AA were also from different political parties, but through common friends, we came to have a close business and personal relationship. Vince was both a great advisor and a good listener. No matter how hectic the day, he always found time to take my call or give me five minutes if my “stuff” was urgent. His word was good as gold and he never made a promise he didn’t keep.

    Another old timer I often think about who would be disgusted at the state of affairs in the Senate is Stan Weaver. The Undertaker was another guy that you didn’t need any MOU’s from once you had his word. He and Vince must look down every day and shake their heads.

  29. - Team Sleep - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 1:49 pm:

    Disappointed, I won’t fault Emil III for relying on his dad to get him a state job. Yes, you’re still relying on contacts and piggybacking off of someone else, but that is one drip in the bucket of state government.

    However, accepting a state senate seat is much different. You are impacting and affecting laws, budgets, constituent service and advocacy. At that point, you are no longer just one of 60,000 - you are a power player.

  30. - jm - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 2:22 pm:

    I was at DCEO When EJIII was hired. Everyone was livid when the word came down. Believe me, Blago was strong-armed into hiring him. Get this - he didn’t bother to show up after the 2nd Day. No calls, no explanation. Nothing. Yeah, he’ll be a great politician.

  31. - Cook County Commoner - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 2:26 pm:

    Sen. Jones’ announcement is too abrupt for my taste. Labor Day is around the corner, and the real blood sport of the Presidential campaign is about to go into high dungeon. Does the Cook County Democratic Party’s horse in the campaign fear that Sen. Jones somehow can be loaded into the port-side torpedo tube? Was Emil III’s chance at undeserved ascendancy to the IL Senate a grudging concession from Field Marshall Axelrod? Is there anyone out there who can pierce the Machiavellian veil obscuring the strategy within a strategy? Let the games begin.

  32. - The Curmudgeon - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 2:29 pm:

    The guy said he wanted a pay raise… and, with his pension, he’s gotten it.

    Clearly an effective legislator.

  33. - anon - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 3:01 pm:

    So does Rod appoint Emil to the senate to replace Obama?

  34. - Cassandra - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 3:33 pm:

    What other changes did he make in the criminal justice system, I wonder. Videotaping confessions in capital cases is fine but not nearly enough. Illinois remains one of the states with the highest disproportionality of minorities in the state prison system, with African-Americans imprisoned at a much higher rate not only than whites but also than other minority groups such as Hispanics.
    As I’ve said before, the existence of a racist correctional system is not just a problem for African Americans to address….it’s a problem for all of us who wish to live in a civilized modern society; plus, it is very, very expensive. But
    African American leaders have shown far less leadership on the issue than they could, without
    jeopardizing their political careers either.

  35. - Anon - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 4:53 pm:

    31, no college degree, and he’s fit to go straight to the Senate? A complex job which involves drafting legislation and solving complex problems? So much for life experience and education being valuable traits.

  36. - Loop Lady - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 4:55 pm:

    Was Emil the one and only African American Senate Prez in IL history thus far? If so, one can only hope members of the current Black caucus will throw their support behind someone who understands in a more altruistic sense the enormity of the job and puts the public interest before self…have a nice retirement and say hey to Frank Clark at ComEd!

  37. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 5:01 pm:

    Loop Lady, the great Cecil Partee.

  38. - The Shadow Knows - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 6:53 pm:

    Does anyone even think that Emil Jones (or Todd Stroger, for that matter) even remotely cares what the people of Illinois think about them? And as far as caring about a legacy or anything, Emil long ago decided that money and self-enrichment is what Illinois politics is really all about. Wasn’t it old man Daley that once said that , “If you can’t even help out your own kids, who can you help out?”

    Nepotism isn’t always a bad thing except when the next in the line of succession to be made king happens to be “an idiot”. Which for some reason, immediately brings to my mind a mental image of Todd Stroger. Now, isn’t that strange?

  39. - anon - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 10:48 pm:

    Godd riddance to Jones. The guy was a greedy, self serving, imcompetent legislator. To be honest, I NEVER could understand a word he said. Let’s just say he certainly was not an eloquent speaker.

  40. - Captain America - Wednesday, Aug 20, 08 @ 7:58 am:

    As Kadner succinctly summarized, the Godfather’s legacy as Senate President is primarily negative. As far as I am conbcerned Jones was corrupt and incompetent. Nothing personal Godfather - it’s reformism, not racism.

    Obviously in the 21st Century, a college education, or at lest some measure of professional accomplishment, is a fundamental prerequiste for new member of a legislature. It’s not elitist, just common sense. So there is no question that Emil 3 (Fredo) should not be appointed as his father’s successor. But Fredo will be appointed and after his father passes from the scene he will be defeated by soneone with better intellectual, political, and professional credentials. We all know what happened to Fredo.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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