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PR money hit

Thursday, Feb 24, 2005

More New Way thinking.

Gov. Blagojevich’s administration wants to more than double a $1 million state contract with a clout-heavy advertising firm in a deal that critics from both parties describe as wasteful and “suspicious.”

The Illinois Department of Transportation has moved to increase its contract with Chicago-based Danielle Ashley Advertising to $2.4 million for the company to put a positive spin and provide regular community updates on the state’s reconstruction of the Dan Ryan and Kingery expressways.

The company and its owner have donated more than a combined $37,000 to the governor, Senate President Emil Jones (D-Chicago) and an array of other Democrats, and has gotten more than $430,000 worth of political work from many of those same politicians, state records show.

Denying politics played any role in its decision, IDOT justified paying Danielle Ashley more money because the state “grossly underestimated” the level of community outreach needed to promote the controversial roadwork to nearby residents and to motorists.

Read the whole thing. Hilarity level: 8 out of 10.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Anonymous - Thursday, Feb 24, 05 @ 11:54 am:

    The press is on a witch hunt… they want to connect any and all companies doing business with the state as “connected”.

    Of course, the gov (and ALL other electeds) raise money from these- and other- companies. They have for years. Is the editorial objective to abolish all campaign contributions and create a system you have to be independently wealthy to run in Illinois?

    And its bordering on irresponsible journalism— this article correctly notes why the contract is being re-evaluated, but is burried at the end of the article (thanks for not including Rich).

  2. - Anonymous - Thursday, Feb 24, 05 @ 12:04 pm:

    Witch hunt? You have got be smoking something. This is a guy who was elected on the basis of his promise to “change the way we do business in Springfield.” You make the very point that’s relevant. He’s doing what others did. That’s what he pledged not to do.

  3. - Anonymous - Thursday, Feb 24, 05 @ 12:14 pm:

    It’s no witch-hunt. Blago’s whole political persona — everything — is connected to the idea of “ethics.”

    Everything that Blago stands for boils down to one single thing: he’s an ethical reformer (or an ethicist and reformer — meaning ethicist in the sense that whatever one does is ethical.)

    Regardless, the GOP needs only to keep hammering away at this — much the same way they hammered away at Kerry. Hit him where he thinks he’s strongest.

    The secret, of course, is that any politician running on an “ethical” platform has made a mistake. Politics and ethics don’t mix, and it’s usually a bad idea to draw attention to the fact that you’re “ethical” because your opposition is not.

    The press is right to bring the microscope. Blago invited it. It’s one thing to be a “reformer” — that’s not *quite* the same as throwing “ethics” into the mix. If Blago were at all savvy — and he’s not — he should cut out the “ethical” stuff. He’ll do himself a big favor. Just stop talking about it. Keep reforming — keep doing “good” (whatever that means) but pipe down about the “ethics.” Clean up government, reform it, but do it quietly and efficiently.

    Blago is incapable of doing it quietly. It’s just not his style. So now he’s paying for it — and he *will* pay for it for the next two years — or whatever’s left.

  4. - Anonymous - Thursday, Feb 24, 05 @ 1:16 pm:

    Anybody that thinks the press is on a “witch hunt” has to be a Blago apologist. When you incessantly yammer about riding a white horse, you can’t complain when people notice the tiniest speck of mud. There have been people talking themselves silly about this Gov’s ethical lapses for the past 2 years. It’s about time the press finally woke up and took notice!

  5. - Anonymous - Thursday, Feb 24, 05 @ 1:56 pm:

    Maybe the new way of doing business is about getting rid of the previous insiders who had been privy to these same contracts for so many years. Is that why you’re complaining (and loudly)?

    And the gov has changed the way of doing business. He’s not scratching the same backs that people expect him to scratch. He’s not raising taxes–he’s taking on the system. He’s not acting beholden to specific industries or unions–he’s fixing what the General Assembly messed up.

    The General Assembly will have tough choices this session. And I hope they choose the path the gov laid out. No gambling, minimal fee increases, responsible pension reform.

    In the end, I believe the voters in Illinois will truly answer: “the state is better off today than it was 4 years ago”. Specks of dirt and all.

  6. - Anonymous - Thursday, Feb 24, 05 @ 2:17 pm:

    That you, James Carville?

  7. - Anonymous - Thursday, Feb 24, 05 @ 2:34 pm:

    “The company and its owner have donated more than a combined $37,000 to the governor, Senate President Emil Jones (D-Chicago) and an array of other Democrats..”

    How many other electeds? Over what length of time? Has the company also donated to Repubs?

    This is shoddy journalism, Sun-Times…

  8. - Anonymous - Thursday, Feb 24, 05 @ 2:50 pm:

    And the gov has changed the way of doing business. He’s not scratching the same backs that people expect him to scratch.

    Al Ronan, Bill Cellini and Peter Fox raised money for him, among others. Bob Kjellander got $800K for doing nothing. I’d say those are the same backs you were talking about.

  9. - Anonymous - Thursday, Feb 24, 05 @ 4:05 pm:

    The 1:56 post.
    Can I get some of what you are smoking?

    Is that Giangreco, or Tusk or Monk or Carville or Rod himself?

    Pension reform?
    No tax increases (just tolls, truckers and fees)
    No gaming (we shall see)
    No insiders?????
    Kjellander, Retzko???
    Kelly, DeBartolo

  10. - Anonymous - Thursday, Feb 24, 05 @ 4:06 pm:

    I hope Brian Daly and Lon Monk are not blogging on government time.

  11. - Anonymous - Thursday, Feb 24, 05 @ 4:17 pm:

    They could probably do a better job than the million or so PR contract Marilyn Katz got in trying to promote Al “the silver tongue” Sanchez and the failed Blue Bag Program.

    You guys give Rod such a hard time yet Daley gets to give donors contracts all the time with no results.
    Rod is better than others.

  12. - Anonymous - Thursday, Feb 24, 05 @ 4:19 pm:

    He’s George Ryan with better hair.
    At least GR wasn’t posing as something he wasn’t.

  13. - Anonymous - Thursday, Feb 24, 05 @ 5:23 pm:

    Blago made Ryan look better!

  14. - Anonymous - Thursday, Feb 24, 05 @ 5:35 pm:

    On the subject of contracts, the tollway pizza thing is the most amazing. If the N.Y. firm is paying the very high rent proposed to Connies & others then someone did a great job and should be praised. If they got significantly lower rent, it is pretty obvious what we have. We can find out if the lease is made public. The fact that it is being kept under wraps does not offer much hope that the authority made a great deal.

  15. - Anonymous - Thursday, Feb 24, 05 @ 6:01 pm:

    “responsible pension reform”..steal $700 million from the pensions and use it to expand Medicaid..responsible in whose book, Bradley?

  16. - Anonymous - Thursday, Feb 24, 05 @ 7:14 pm:

    Is Blagojevich worse than the Republicans were? I don’t know.

    Does Blagojevich raise more campaign money in 2 years than Ryan did in 20 years by being a reforming ethicist? I kind of doubt it.

  17. - Pat Collins - Thursday, Feb 24, 05 @ 9:04 pm:

    Yes, but the common perception of Ryan is that he’s a crook. I don’t think that is what Milorad wants his image to be.

  18. - Anonymous - Friday, Feb 25, 05 @ 12:39 am:

    Am I smoking something? A Blago apologist? A member of the administation? Nah… I just find it sad that this place is filled with a bunch of cynics and republicans. No one will give an ounce of credit where credit is due.

    If you want to see Blago “live and real” and without the usual media filter, Bernie’s column in the SJR last Sunday paints a pretty good picture (wish you had posted this Rich). This is exactly the man people elected. Ambitious: yes. But willing to make tough decisions.

  19. - Anonymous - Friday, Feb 25, 05 @ 12:46 am:

    It’s not even fair to compare Blago vs. Ryan in fundraising prowess.

    Blago has nationwide appeal. An “up and comer”. Attractive, young, moderate and populist are a few words that come to mind.

    Ryan wasn’t going anywhere besides prison. Why would people throw money at him?

  20. - Anonymous - Friday, Feb 25, 05 @ 10:41 am:

    Blagojevich has national appeal?

    Yeah, if you like your politicians numb, dumb, and barely articulate.

    Oh. Wait a minute. Right.


  21. - OneMan - Friday, Feb 25, 05 @ 10:46 am:

    ” Ambitious: yes. But willing to make tough decisions Now thats funny!

    Like on who should be the gaming board (6 months and counting).
    Like getting enough members on the health facilities board (only took 6 months)
    Like if we should expand gaming, ‘well I don’t know’, ‘I’ll have to see the bill’..
    Hey lets let a big chunk of the DNR go, but wait not the disabled guys, that makes me look bad.
    Hey instead of really cutting spending lets borrow some more.

    But he has made some tough decisions.

    How many troopers to bring with next time he goes out of state.
    Going after video games retailers, that’s a huge issue in this state.
    Helping to fund a privately owned sports facility in Metro-East.

    Should I have one of my guys suggest that they remove an attorney from negotiations about a casino. (Not one of my elected guys, not one of the guys on the state payroll) that shows he can make tough decisions…

    Give me a break

    Yeah right..

  22. - Anonymous - Friday, Feb 25, 05 @ 10:50 am:

    No, you’re confused. Obama has nationwide appeal. Blagojevich can’t construct a single policy argument beyond talking points. And his money? It’s almost exclusively coming from insiders looking for something in return, not those who think he will be president. No matter how many Blago staffers are on here, they can’t make black into white. He’s not a reformer and not even close to presidential material. It’s a huge fluke he’s governor.

  23. - Anonymous - Friday, Feb 25, 05 @ 11:15 am:

    He’s no reformer and it is a fluke that he is governor. Perhaps the strongest point in The Rod’s favor is that he is an Illinois Democrat and not an Illinois Republican. As weak as The Rod is, we can count on the Illinois GOP to find a way to shoot themselves in the foot by nominating a gubernatorial candidate who is even weaker than the incumbent. Ray LaHood for governor? Spare us that misery, please.

  24. - Anonymous - Friday, Feb 25, 05 @ 11:43 am:

    I can see it now.

    September, 2007:

    Blagojevich debating Gingrich.

    Off in the wings, taking notes and giving tips: Carville, Tusk, and Hilary.

    Bob Dole flaps his pencil to try to get Newt’s attention. But Newt’s on a roll up there.

    Blagojevich pushes up his sleeves and does his “talking tough” grimace and waits for Newt to finish whatever it is he’s talking about.

    Then it’s Rod’s turn to speak. What comes out is something along of lines of, “Speaking of families, what about the familes in Galesburg?” He cracks a joke about the Cubs. The bell dings. Time’s up.

    Moderator Dan Rather mumbles something about how, well, this is the whole enchilada. “And if it’s not an enchilada,” Dan says, “it’s at least a big taco.”

  25. - Anonymous - Friday, Feb 25, 05 @ 1:03 pm:

    Yes, Rod Blagojevich scored an impressive victory in 2002, but I suspect any democrat would have won the cycle, republicans were just too dismal. Regardless, the fact remains that Rod Blagojevich had never been anything more than a back-bencher, whether in the General Assembly or Congress. Frankly I can’t recall one significant piece of legislation authored by him. In his first two years as governor, he has distinguished himself, but not for anything revolutionary. Cleaned up government, it doesn’t appear so…cut spending, not really so much as borrow, bond and cut without regard to impact … grown a robust economy, hardly — Illinois lags well behind the nation’s recovery due to increased tax and fees on businesses … Eliminate and reform the State Board of Education, nope, another opportunity missed … Opportunity Returns, only if you live in certain places … Not raise income or sales tax, well there ya go. Is it enough to base a successful reelection? In and of itself, no. But as someone has already opined, what will the republicans offer as a viable alternative? With new and potentially devastating information revealed almost daily, the administration seems to want the public to swallow increasingly hollow claims of innocence? If the governor has any semblence of leadership qualities, he needs to personally get out in front of this, jettison his apologists and permanently rid himself of these so-called friends who are embarrassing him. One of George Ryan’s problems was that he wouldn’t fire aides involved in wrong-doing. That stupidity and false allegiance and the feeling nobody could touch him would end up dragging him down. Read the history, Governor.

  26. - Anonymous - Friday, Feb 25, 05 @ 1:32 pm:

    None of these comments are particularly interesting. Who is Tracy Alston? Who does she know? Who is Danielle Ashley?

  27. - Anonymous - Saturday, Feb 26, 05 @ 6:44 am:

    Reading all this, I think we can probably all agree that the following things are true:

    1. Blagojevich won in part because the Illinois Republican party cratered.
    2. Blagojevich’s “clean up state government” mantra has ended up doing him more harm than good with state house insiders, if not the public.
    3. In fact, Blagojevich has done a whole number of things that have alienated state house insiders.
    4. But, even while doing that, the public hasn’t turned against him.
    5. That only upsets the state house insiders more, because they can’t understand why everybody hates this guy.
    6. And, while most of the state house staff, particularly the press corps, personally hates him, he’s actually established some key elements of a substantive record that will look good in a TV commercial (particularly the no new taxes bit).
    7. Plus, nobody denies that he’s got a ton of money and is a great campaigner.
    8. And, the Republican party is still divided, and will probably have a draining primary while Rod’s money just accumulates.
    9. And, most of the general public couldn’t care less about how long it took to appoint a gaming board or any of this other stuff, as long as their taxes didn’t go up and no kids died because of corruption.
    10. Everybody in the state house knows all this, and it just burns them up even more that they could be stuck with the guy for another four years.
    11. So that just makes them even angrier, and the cycle deepens.

    Am I missing anything?

  28. - Anonymous - Saturday, Feb 26, 05 @ 8:24 am:

    Am I the only one who remembers a newly elected Gov. Blago promising to give every teacher in Illinois voice mail, so they could communicate more directly with students’ parents? That was a gas!

  29. - Rich Miller - Saturday, Feb 26, 05 @ 12:22 pm:

    “Am I missing anything?”

    Yeah… Your unbelievably low expectations.

  30. - Anonymous - Saturday, Feb 26, 05 @ 6:43 pm:

    My unbelievably low expectations of who, the state house press corps? The Blagojevich administration doesn’t do something right every day, but it’s gotten to the point that even when it does, it can’t get a fair shake, because the state house reporters (yourself included) can’t get over their personal distaste of the guy.

    Look at the pensions as an example. Editorial boards around the state are praising Blago for having the courage to (1) take on a huge substantive issue, (2) take on an issue that the GA has punted for decades, and (3) take on an issue that’s black death to what was his last remaining “state house insider” constituency (the unions). But the state house press corps is treating it like pure craziness that’s dead on arrival. I may not be good enough at math to figure out who’s numbers are right on this thing, but I’m good enough to do this math:

    (1) The Governor, who’s shown almost no state house savvy at all, obviously wants this.
    (2) The Speaker, whose savvy is legendary, is on record as wanting it too.
    (3) The Senate President, whose savvy is no longer underestimated, has left himself plenty of room to get behind this.
    (4) Even Tom Cross, whose savvy is becoming more widely respected, has left himself room to get behind this — he’s pretty much endorsed the basic concept of pension reform, even while coming out against spending future savings today (a pretty reasonable position — something else Cross is known for, and no, I’m not a Cross blogger).
    (5) Frank Watson, who would oppose the Governor if the Governor said that grass was green, is against this.

    Looking at that math, I see a big pension reform coming this spring, and that’s a major substantive reform Blago can genuinely take credit for.

    Is the state house press corp’s distaste for Blago totally understandable? You bet — he brought it on himself in any number of ways (not living in Springfield, silly fights at the beginning of the administration, any number of other personal issues). Is he still an easy and legitimate target for the press corps in a lot of ways? You bet — all the campaign pledges, the refusal to adhere to time-tested capitol protocols, the contract situations, the festering sinkholes like the gaming board, DNR, and several others. But while legislators aren’t expected to be unbiased and have the right to hold on to smoldering grudges for years (or decades) if they choose to, the press corps at some point is supposed to put aside its personal hatred of the guy and give him credit on those intermittent occasions that it’s due, and that just isn’t happening right now.

    As for expectations of Blago, well, two years into the Ryan administration everybody expected he’d end up under federal indictment sooner rather than later. So I’d say Team Blago is running well ahead of that at this point. That may be low expectations, but there’s an argument that Blago’s ebullient campaign persona created unrealistically high expectations (Blago’s own fault if you want to lay blame), and while he hasn’t lived up to those, that doesn’t mean his administration has been a disaster.

  31. - Lance Stevens - Sunday, Feb 27, 05 @ 10:46 am:

    I agree with the part about Cross being recognized as “Savvy”. I will also agree that Team Blago is running ahead of schedule….. raising money.. The bigger question is how he raised it??

  32. - Anonymous - Sunday, Feb 27, 05 @ 1:40 pm:

    It seems too often like the guy tries to do the right thing for the wrong reason. Using the pensions as an example-isn’t it fair for our friends in the press, and others, to ask, is Blago doing this because it’s time, or past time to fix the problem, or is he just doing it to squeeze enough cash out to balance the budget one more time? Sorry, friends, this cynical old timer has to vote the latter.
    There are enough of us who can and have done the math and have found that the deal is 10% reform and 90% borrowing from the reform to balance the budget now. The Rod Road show left that slide off the Powerpoint to all the Editorial boards, I guess. BTW, the Speaker has not taken a position on this plan, only the general issue of pension reform.

  33. - Rich Miller - Sunday, Feb 27, 05 @ 4:34 pm:

    “Personal hatred”?

    Personally, after hours, I like the guy.

  34. - Anonymous - Monday, Feb 28, 05 @ 11:15 am:

    What would “after hours” mean for Blagojevich? I can’t remember an Illinois governor working fewer than him. All this talk about “boundless energy” seems to come from bouncing around at a parade. How about showing up for work once in a while?

  35. - Blue State - Tuesday, Mar 1, 05 @ 1:44 pm:

    What’s clear is that, despite the Governor’s stumbled (and there have been some), “GOP Inc.” can’t get over the fact that they lost the Governor’s Mansion after having it 26 years. That is the real issue here — and as someone who no longer lives in Springfield I can read between the lines of the attacks on Gov Blagojevich. Democrats rarely said a word about Governor Ryan’s “ethical challenges,” but these blogs are filled with hyperbole from the Blago haters about those issues.

    “GOP Inc.,” you are overreaching.
    You are full of hyperbole. The public doesn’t share your outrage about this Governor.

    I know that won’t stop you from hurling insults, but the public isn’t buy them.

  36. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Mar 1, 05 @ 2:19 pm:

    My impression has been that many, if not most, of the negative comments here are from Democrats, not disgruntled Republicans.

  37. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Mar 1, 05 @ 5:51 pm:

    It is my opinion that there is public outrage for this gov. from dems and republicans alike. I am not a sprinfield insider privy to politics but when the pres. wins 83 of the 104 counties in Illinois this could be a direct reflection on the dislike for the gov. His motto seems to be “how many campaign promises can I break and still win in 06″. As long as he keeps his votes north of I-80, he probably will win.

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