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Backlash building over state park closings

Thursday, Sep 4, 2008

* We haven’t really focused at all on the state park closures announced last week. Gov. Blagojevich has yet to ever visit a state park, and his cuts made from that ignorance are causing a big reaction around the state

Eighty people came to Lock 14 of the Illinois and Michigan Canal in La Salle Wednesday night to oppose the state’s plan to close Hennepin Canal Parkway State Park on Nov. 1.

* This number was pretty astounding

Between 300 and 400 people gathered Friday night at Kickapoo Landing in Kickapoo State Park to discuss saving the park from its Nov. 1 closure.

Tod Satterthwaite, operator of Kickapoo Landing, said dozens volunteered to help the efforts, which include contacting legislators and launching petition drives. […]

Though still under discussion, the group plans to recruit volunteers and organize, he said.

* I thought I heard last night on my teevee that community organizers were bad people? Whatever the case, you can sign an online petition by clicking here.

* More local activism

This Labor Day weekend many visitors came into the restaurant to sign a petition circulated by local residents to prevent the closings. The petition has been available for signing at the restaurant since Friday. Sunday afternoon 12 pages sat on a table with roughly ten signatures each- and that was just the signatures that had been collected within the previous few hours.

* Same goes for Clinton

The city and county will be sending out “SOS” messages as Save Our Springs signs protesting the closure of Weldon Springs begin sprouting in yards and businesses, and just about anywhere else a message can be placed.

* There is a ray of hope for at least some funding restorations

State Rep. Frank Mautino (D-Spring Valley) provided a budget-making scenario that begins when the House reconvenes next week that could restore funding and keep parks open. […]

The House also will consider “fund sweeps” — dollars not in the state’s general revenue, held in separate accounts — that the governor can “sweep” into areas he wants funded, Mautino said.

* But, in the meantime, some of these cuts don’t seem to make any sense

The Lowden State Park actually makes money — the park’s operating budget is $45,000 each year, and the park annually pulls in about $90,000, he said.

“Why would one close that park when it’s self-sustaining?” [Sen. Tim Bivins] said.

* And

One of the very real issues of the closings will be maintenance of the Illinois and Michigan National Heritage Canal, which passes through Channahon Parkway and Gebhard Woods state parks […]

“I don’t think it was considered in Springfield when they were (planning to) close these two parks they were losing the manpower to maintain the Canal Corridor as well as Gebhard Woods and the Channahon park,” he said.

* And

“This news is devastating from the tourism angle,” Cooke said. “It’s beyond comprehension.

“This cut doesn’t just affect Kickapoo, The staff there also oversees Middle Fork State Fish and Wildlife Area and Harry “Babe” Woodyard State Natural Area. People from all over the country come to our local parks.

* There are lots of unanswered questions

Pliura, who leases land at Moraine View for the horses, then charges for rides, is just one of scores of private businesspeople across the state who make money by providing park users with food, firewood and other services.

Now that Gov. Rod Blagojevich has decided to close down the parks, officials have to figure out how exactly to close the facilities and what to do with vendors like Pliura who provide services there.

* And charges of political motivation are everywhere…

[Rep. Bill Black] said the park closure announcement made by Gov. Rod Blagojevich uses downstate Illinois like a political pawn. Black said it is the a way the governor tries to manipulate and embarrass Michael Madigan, the Illinois House of Representatives Speaker.

Black pointed out that the state gives plenty of money to Chicago’s museums, but parks like Kickapoo, and other sites on the list are those whose funding is cut.

* More charges

[Sen. Tim Bivins] said it’s not a coincidence that the majority of the funding cuts for state parks and historic sites will come from regions represented by legislators who have not supported Blagojevich’s budget priorities.

“Take a look at where the funding cuts are, and what park districts and historic sites are affected and it is pretty obvious. The Governor’s cuts are blatantly political,” Bivins said. “They affect the districts of lawmakers who continue to try and hold Blagojevich accountable—like Senate Republican Leader Frank Watson or Senator Mike Jacobs, an East Moline Democrat who has been a vocal critic of the Governor on more than one occasion. And it is no coincidence that more than half of the affected sites are in my district and slightly southeast in the 38th District, an area represented by my Republican colleague State Sen. Gary Dahl of Granville.”

Both Bivins and Dahl have Democratic opponents.

* Democratic Rep. Careen Gordon has been hammered repeatedly by Gov. Blagojevich, and this time was no exception

Gordon found out about the park closing on the night of Thursday, Aug. 28, after a phone call from the press in Springfield. A number of lawmakers she was with also were surprised with the decision, and Gordon said she sent an e-mail in order to establish contact with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, having also received a press release from the governor’s office.

“No phone call was returned to give us any more information than was put out in that press release,” Gordon said. “Not one more piece of information was given to us on Friday before the close of business and before this long holiday weekend.”

* And then there’s the economy angle. With gas prices high, inflation at a scary pace and people worried about the future, many people are taking advantage of state parks, as this restaurant owner explains

But the effect the closing will have on low-income families and elderly seems to be what makes Gibson the most passionate. “We’ve had tons of people tell us this year that this is their vacation,” she said. “They can’t afford to go to Six Flags or Chicago or Disneyland because of gas. They camp with their kids and walk around and fish and go horseback riding.”

* More on that angle from Rep. Jerry Mitchell

“Many vacationers are choosing to stay closer to home this year due to the high gas prices and the sluggish economy,” said Mitchell. “So these parks have become a home away from home for many Illinois families this summer. Now as we enter the fall and winter months, these areas will not be open for hunting, snowmobiling, and other cold weather activities citizens enjoy at our state parks.”

* Numbers

…a press release issued by Blagojevich in March of 2007 announced that 44.4 million people had visited Illinois state parks in 2006, an increase of 316,429 over the previous year.

* Last word

Ripple effects will be far-reaching, said City engineer Mike Etscheid. The closure will be counterproductive to state tourism efforts to bring people to the area, he said.

“You’re basically telling them, ‘Go to Wisconsin; go to Indiana.’ “

* Related…

* Number of state workers being laid off disputed

* Home of Oregon Icon Will Close

* Friends of Canal to meet today about closures

* Morris fights plan to close parks

* Closure list

— Dana-Thomas House, Springfield
— Lincoln log cabin near Charleston
— David Davis mansion, Bloomington
— Fort de Chartres, Randolph County
— Vandalia statehouse
— State center at Bishop Hill, Henry County
— Carl Sandburg birthplace, Galesburg
— Cahokia courthouse
— Bryant Cottage, Bement
— Jubilee College, near Peoria
— Apple River Fort, Elizabeth
— Fort Kaskaskia, Randolph County
— Pierre Menard home, Randolph County

— Castle Rock State Park, Oregon
— Lowden State Park, Oregon
— Hennepin Canal Parkway State Park, Sheffield
— Illini State Park, Marseilles
— Channahon Parkway State Park, Channahon
— Gebhard Woods State Park, Morris
— Hidden Springs State Forrest, Strasburg
— Kickapoo State Park, Oakwood
— Moraine View State Park, Leroy
— Weldon Springs State Park, Clinton
— Wolf Creek State Park, Windsor

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - at a loss - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 1:46 pm:

    Maybe it is time for everyone to remember in 2010 these politcally intented cuts which have blindsided residents of the state and make no economic sense at all. We re-elected the gov like fools.

  2. - Mr. Cub - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 1:46 pm:

    This governor needs to be sent downstream … to The Big House. These cuts are criminal.

  3. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 1:48 pm:

    In my opinion,

    the Governor’s failure to visit any of our State Parks makes him unfit for service. His inability to keep them open is impeachable.

    Each public servant being laid off because of his inability to govern is worth 10 of him. When ranking the Governor’s failures, this is his worst moment.

  4. - Cassandra - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 1:58 pm:

    Why couldn’t they make modest cuts, tailored to size, in all of the state parks, and keep them all open. Most bureacrats, if you can get them to tell the truth, know where they can cut without hurting services, usually, somewhere in the patronage bureaucracy unfortunately. I also wonder if Illinois is charging enough for, say, out of state residents. I use a park in Michigan a lot and their out of state annual sticker is much more expensive than the in-state sticker. I don’t object to that as an Illinois resident. it’s part of the vacation expense and it’s still cheap.

    Meanwhile, over at DCFS, I wonder how many people area are actually going out the door too. It seems to me that, given the huge drop in the number of kids in Illinois foster care over the past decade, we shouldn’t have to maintain the same size DCFS bureacracy–and not just front line caseworkers either. How many managers do they need to manage a shrinking caseload? AFSCME, of course, would have us believe that if a DCFS employee has to move from a poisition in one area to another position across the city or county, that’s a “layoff” even if the employee gets to keep all of their salary,
    nice public sector benefits, seniority, etc. We’re supposed to feel sorry for them. Now, in this global econonomy, that is a real insult to those of us who work in the real world.

  5. - Obamalac - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 1:58 pm:

    The worst governor in the history of Illinois and he WAS RE-ELECTED! Too many of us were on our butts and let Bush ‘n Blago get in and then stay in! Make a statement, vote and get others to vote, do something or it will only get worse.

  6. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 2:00 pm:

    By the way, if this Governor won’t resign and let a new Governor open the parks-he should at least turn them over to the Counties where they are located so they can be reopened by the local government.

    I am sure many of them would be able to turn a profit.

  7. - Cal Skinner - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 2:10 pm:

    I think you heard that being a small town mayor was a bit like being a community organizer, except the major had responsibilities.

  8. - wordslinger - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 2:12 pm:

    It’s nasty. The money is so minimal in the context of the state budget that the actions must be part of a political vendetta.

    It says a lot about someone who will close parks and historic sites out of spite. Couldn’t he have grounded his plane first?

  9. - Fire Ron Guenther - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 2:14 pm:

    I am shocked that Careen Gordon got blindsided! Shocked I tell ya!!!

  10. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 2:16 pm:

    I am not trying to hog the blog, but in a way, I am glad Blago did this because it is such an unforgivable offense that is assures him never being elected again and probably hastens a resignation. Okay, I’m done.

  11. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 2:34 pm:

    This isn’t about money because everything is about money.

    Whether a governor shuts down portions of the government or expands or builds new portions of the government, both reflect on how that governor sees political priorities, opportunities and values.

    Blagojevich has built up social programs because he believes in them and closes state parks because he doesn’t. He doesn’t care who gets hurt by his closures because he is focused on the support of those who he gives our tax money to.

    This is what happens when we have a government that does not know how to grow our economies. This “rob Peter to pay Paul” approach is the best we can expect from these people.

  12. - Ghost - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 2:34 pm:

    Our children will have great health care coverage (no treatment, since the bills dont get paid); but they will lose out on the historic and scientific knowledge contained within our State!

  13. - BannedForLife - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 2:36 pm:

    to what extent is Blago trying to foment outrage with these cuts? that he perhaps hopes to redirect at the legislature?

  14. - Wumpus - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 2:40 pm:

    Well, he is/was trying to make Wrigley a state park and that will be open well into October.

    With gas prices up, more people are staying local and visiting state parks. Increase a fee there, don’t cut…all will be happy.

  15. - Amuzing Myself - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 2:41 pm:

    “I thought I heard last night on my teevee that community organizers were bad people?”

    Only if you heard what you wanted to hear.

    I believe the insinuation was that a national candidate claiming experience as a community organizer has no business criticizing any mayor, much less a governor. A pretty reasonable opinion.

    Nice shot they took at Biden, too, pointing out that 200 Delawares would fit into the borders of Alaska. I’m sure that won’t be brought up again, though.

  16. - Anonymous - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 2:42 pm:

    Just a question … why don’t we sell or lease the parks and historical sites?

  17. - b-dogg - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 2:44 pm:

    no, amuzing myself, that is what was said. rich had it right.

  18. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 2:48 pm:

    Actually, what she said was: “I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a ‘community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities.”

    I always thought organizers had plenty of “actual responsibilities.” And since I believe that the fundamental right to organize concerned citizens in one’s own community is something that makes this country great, I found the line tremendously insulting to everyday people who are getting the shaft by politicians like Rod Blagojevich, or some out of state landfill company, or Lake Michigan polluters, or whatever.

    Nice applause line, I suppose. Wrong target, though.

  19. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 2:51 pm:

    But what I was really referring to above was Giuliani, who said…

    “He worked as a community organizer. What? He worked — I said — I said, OK, OK, maybe this is the first problem on the resume.”


    Now, tell me again that I heard only what I wanted to hear.

  20. - wordslinger - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 2:53 pm:

    The more I think about this, the more it bothers me. The parks and historic sites are a legacy of which we are only stewards for the moment. They belong to and are enjoyed by all the citizens of the state. They are not to be subjected to the whims of the executive.

    Is there anyone who believes the costs of keeping them all open could not be wrung out of waste within the governor’s office? How about $5,800 bucks a flight between Springfield and Chicago?

    What assurances do we have that basic maintenance will be performed when they’re closed?

  21. - Amuzing Myself - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 2:54 pm:

    I’m not too wrapped up in it, but I think it was a good comeback to Obama/Biden charges that her experience as Mayor and Governor don’t seem to matter since its “just Alaska.” That’s going to play great for her when she uses it in traditionally Dem areas like Pennsylvania, W.V., Iowa, etc.

  22. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 2:56 pm:

    AM, again, I was referring at the top to Giuliani. Let’s not get too diverted here. I’ll add a link just for clarification.

  23. - Princess - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 3:01 pm:

    Cassandra, with the parks, the last ‘hit list’ a few years ago included 23 parks, 13 of them in S. Illinois. This time, not one park in S. IL. Not one in region 4 or 5.

    To anon about leasing and selling the parks. One best study up on a few of these sites before asking for such a measure. Some of the parks carry waterways that have to be maintained. Take the Hennepin Canal for example. Not only did it get the Hennepin Canal State Parkway Act ( state law), it then from partially a CP (Illinois First and other state grant money) got almost 10 million . It also recieved over 20 million in federal grants. Renig on the Federal terms, a possible take back of the grant. The rallies in support of the canal will take place over several weeks and in different places as this site covers over 104 miles of canal, Lake Sinnissippi with the duck hunting, several satelites for fishing and hunting, ect ect ect. There are also several areas along the canal which have leases. When the state took the canal there was an agreement that because of the waterways the canal had to be maintained, the Corp of Engineers use to maintain it before the state took it. The canal has also faced a 73% reduction in yearly funding over the last couple years.

  24. - Bass Man - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 3:01 pm:

    Just a question … why don’t we sell or lease the parks and historical sites?

    Why don’t we sell or lease the Governor’s office…Oops! We already are.

    Seriously, a state park or historic site many times is more than you see. Dedicated specialty biologists, landscape architects and engineers have spent years developing sensative resources without impact in order for both citizens of our state and visitors from the country and world to understand and learn from. Will an outside entity maintain or improve these resources as the state would? Possibly, but public open space is just that, for the public. A long tradition in this state was to set aside entrance fees so anyone could enjoy state public open spaces, parks, etc. If entrance fees are the way, then capital funds and yes, personnel are needed to collect the fees…but these are questions answered by an engaged administration, not one as clueless as this.

  25. - cermak_rd - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 3:23 pm:

    I’ll have to admit that other than Lincoln log cabin near Charleston (near my home town of Mattoon) and Illini state park in Marseilles, which I pass every time I head to Iowa, I’ve never heard of any of these. Perhaps if the state had advertised them all over the state so people knew what was in them, they’d have had more visitors. Most people I know around here when they want to go somewhere to enjoy nature head to Wisconsin, Michigan or Indiana (Dunes) or if they’re just looking for a picnic, the Forest Preserves will do.

  26. - Pot calling kettle - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 3:43 pm:

    I would like to comment on the park closures, but Rich does not allow most of the descriptors that come to mind.

    Overall, the Gov’s actions over the past couple of years indicate to me that he favors con-con. I mean, why else would he methodically alienate so many constituencies?

  27. - Capitol View - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 3:46 pm:

    Our governor doesn’t understand that the state parks attract Illinois residents as visitors from all over the State. Clobbering the Republican area ones will still anger his Democrtic voters who find the park entrances closed, two gas tankfulls from home.

    Springfield is getting the worst of a lot of it, Dana Thomas House and Lincoln related area sites, based on having no senator or state reps from this area - as well as his 21% voter support in the last gubernatorial election.

    Such a mean, vindicative, petty political approach to governing. Democrats have to unite behind one quality challenger in the next primary; the Republicans in this state are too clueless to knock him off.

  28. - Princess - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 3:48 pm:

    cermak, the changes came after DNR lost Mr Manning. DNR to to current administration and ‘acting’ overseers of DNR have no use for things like parks (oh, unless it’s in their region). Using a Newbank or google search one can see the dramatic changes and amount of public awareness. And glad to hear you enjoy the outdoors, but if you get over Region 1 way, you will find lots of Chicago area people using and enjoying the NW parks with the camp grounds, hunting areas ect.

  29. - Downstate weed chewing hick - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 3:50 pm:

    ==why don’t we sell or lease the parks and historical sites===

    There are exceptions, but state parks and historic sites generally don’t make money. They improve the quality of life, but they usually dont generate revenue over expenses. Even user fees to offset expenses would probably still require additional revenue from the state, but that is not a reason to shut them down.

  30. - Nearly Normal - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 3:58 pm:

    Cermak, there is information for the sites and parks on the DNR websites. Lots of people have used these parks and sites for family trips.

    Before the internet, flyers and other advertising could be had at the sites that list all the pertinent information.

    My parents did not have a lot of money for vacations when I was a child. They took us to state parks and historical sites over the years in the summer. I was amazed that I had been to about half of the sites listed as well as others more lucky not to be on the list.

    How much can be done to reverse this remains to be seen.

  31. - Bass Man - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 4:11 pm:

    Cermak…here’s some math for you…based upon 2007 attendance figures, obtainable from the internet, the eleven state parks being closed represent over 5,000,000 visitors who just got a door slammed in there face. Hennepin Canal and Kickapoo are close to 2.5 million visitors alone…no small change when you factor in the loss of tourism dollars to those regions…sad.

  32. - Appreciative - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 4:21 pm:

    Thank you for this post,

    Lowden and Castle Rock Parks in Oregon, IL are beautiful areas along the Rock River. Good fishing, excellent Mushroom picking, fun small town activities, great motorcycle enthusiast areas, great camping, great farm stands, great pumpkin patches-only about 1 1/2 hours west of Chicago.

    We have an annual camp out at Castle Rock every Columbus Day weekend with over 25 families invading the area for a great time. It all started with one little girl’s birthday and as she grew so did the party because everyone had such a good time. Now she is in College and the party just keeps on growing.

    These nature preserves operate so efficiently compared to most State funded entities. I am sure both Lowden and Castle Rock are more than self sufficient. How can anyone possibly justify closure?

    Other posters are correct when they suggest the State doesn’t appreciate or publicize these remarkable areas. I have recommended the Starve Rock area too many fellow life long Illinoisans who never heard of it. They go there and can’t believe so beautiful an area exists so close to their homes.

    Governor Blagojevich should take the million dollars he wasted and is trying to get back from the Chicago school that can’t open and use the money to keep all the parks and landmarks open. Or better yet, take some of the money he bleeds out of state contractors and pay for the parks out of his campaign fund. It really is a tax anyway.

    The best idea would be for him to step aside and allow someone with some appreciation of the state they are responsible for to govern.

  33. - Pothole - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 4:55 pm:

    It makes me sick to hear about the state park closures. And it isn’t because I’m an avid outdoorsman but because this shouldn’t be such a big problem. When you go to a state park in Wisconsin, guess what - you pay admission. The rates are extremely reasonable, but it creates a revenue stream to at least partially support the parks.

  34. - anon36 - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 5:07 pm:

    blago has NO use for any part of the IDNR. Parks are only part of it. It has been cut to nearly nothing left of what it was or needs to be as required by mandates for various areas.

  35. - Skirmisher - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 5:17 pm:

    You folks are only seeing the tip of the iceberg when it comes to these closures. The Division of Historic Sites in IHPA is effectively being wiped out. All of the vital central office staff except for two persons, including collections curators, researchers, etc., are being dismissed and at the sites, most of the experienced interpreters. Closing of some of these sites will necessitate that Illinois return artifacts that have been provided on loan, and these may never be recovered for display. All in all, it is a blow that will have far-reaching consequences to much more than mere tourism. I understand that similar long-term damage has already been done to IDNR. And Cassandra, you couldn’t be more wrong about DCFS Far from having a declining caseload, DCFS is already so short of caseworkers, particularly in southern Illinois, that the agency is again in trouble with the federal government for failure to adhere to its guidelines. The proposed DCFS layoffs are aimed at these frontline caseworkers and things are going to get much, much worse. It is almost as if these cuts are designed to maximize damage, which of-course they are.

  36. - Princess - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 5:28 pm:

    One of the main reasons has not gone to ‘gate’ fees is so the parks remain free for all incomes of citizens to enjoy.

    Indiana for example charges $4 part of the week and $5 weekends and holidays. They also offer annual passes, $36 annual for IN residents and $46 for non residents with a $18 a year pass for seniors over 65. While I have visited IN parks as the oldest son lived there for a time, I am not in agreemnet that ‘gate’ fees are a great idea.

    Take a day in NW IL parks, unless a annual pass one could spent gate fees several times a day cruising the parks. That gets a bit pricey for some especially now considering the price of gasoline on top of it.

    One must also keep in mind that a ‘gate’ fee would not be collectible at some state parks as they simply are not neat little drive in parks.

    I would not object to a annual fee for park pass if it were reasonable and as if it were scaled to say income levels–I did and I do believe everyone in IL should have the opportunity to enjoy the parks whether they can afford a fee or not or just a portion of the fee. And then it gets into usage of the sites. Do you really charge someone taking their morning jog $5 to do so? I live by the ROck Island Bike Trail, on any given nice day one can see the parking lot filled all day with cars turning over and others arriving that didn’t drive but rode their bikes out. Should mom or dad be charged $5 a day to take an hour ride? What when they don’t enter by way of main entrance? See, it’s just not as simple as slapping on ‘gate’ fees.

  37. - Levois - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 5:51 pm:

    The only state park or state recreational area that I can ever recall visiting is Wolf Lake. I liked that place and I would be disappointed if politics had been used as an excuse to close that place. That being said while I can sympathize with those who might be losing businesses or revenue because of these closures. Indeed those who use this issue to say that the Gov. is only engaging in this activity for political reasons. Still I wonder if this only matters because of who’s doing the cutting, although the why is just as important?

  38. - In the Sticks - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 6:21 pm:

    It is important to remember that there is no basic maintenance done at any State of Illinois facilities (other than the Capitol of course, or anywhere used by legislators or the governor, or Chicago State University).

    Roofs everywhere are leaking, utility systems are aging and ready to fail, 50 year old boilers are patched together, and the only work being done is emergencies (or what GOMB can be persuaded is an emergency). State facilities are deteriorating from lack of maintenance since the last capital bill. Closures will only aggrevate this.

  39. - farmman - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 6:44 pm:

    What we have in Illinois is gov that has lost his priorities or at least has the priorities that do not match the citizens wants and needs. We have a pension system that give retirees like Emile Jones a pension nearly $40,000 per more than he made while serving. Ridiculous! We have a gov the starts programs that have not been authorized and gives $50 gas cards as an incentive to sign illegal aliens for free medical services that the state has to pay 100% of because Congress does not pay for their half when payments are made to non citizens! We have IDOT leaving potholes not fixed, dead animals not cleaned up, and right-of-ways left to danderously grow wild, yet IT has the budget to plant trees and flowers while we are closing parks. We use ear marked funds to purchase land for the DNR and have no funds to take care of what we have. We have a gov that is a real idiot and it is time to send him packing.

  40. - Bookworm - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 7:51 pm:

    This may yet turn out to be merely another game of executive/legislative “chicken,” designed to force the G.A. to agree to something Blago wants really, really bad (like a capital plan, hint, hint) or to get the public primed to agree to an income tax hike of some kind, which Blago could then claim he had no choice but to approve because, after all, the “people” demanded it.

    Notice that the official closing dates are right around the time of the veto session, which gives the G.A. a chance to avert them.

    That being said, to close sites like the Dana Thomas House, Jubilee Park and Bishop Hill BEFORE Jan. 1 — and eliminate their wonderful Christmas-season events and the potential revenue they generate — is supremely idiotic.

  41. - Bookworm - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 8:02 pm:

    A proposed QOTD (if it hasn’t already been done): if you were elected governor, what would be the first thing you’d do? In my case, the first thing I would do would be to promise to personally visit EVERY state park before my first term was up. (Regardless of whether or not I had a second term :)

  42. - Gregor - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 9:03 pm:

    If you raised and charged gate fees, Rod would just end up sweeping them anyway. This administration, more than any other I’ve ever seen, is “the Gang that Couldn’t Shoot Straight”. Just last year, they spent a massive effort to promote the park and museum at Black Hawk/ Rock Island as one of the ten best kept secrets of Illinois, in an effort to boost tourism there.

    Yep. On the closure list.

    In the run up to the Lincoln Bicentennial, when the eyes of the nation and world will be watching us with Olympic-like interest, of course we’re laying off our historians and preservation experts and CLOSING LINCOLN SITES!!! We must have too much Lincoln here; it interferes with proper veneration of His Rodness.

    Oh yeah, keep poking the bear with that little pointed stick of yours, Rod. You think these people will blame Madigan for it? You are delusional, sir. You, Rod, self proclaimed friend and defender of the Little Guy: you have (messed) with something that is very personal, and tangible, and local to a great many “little people”, and this, they will not ever forgive. You are messing with the leisure time activities of parents, grandparents and their kids. Oh, you will be remembered for this, mark my words.

    When these ill-advised cuts are reversed, it will be Madigan that gets the credit. If you ever visited a state park with your kids, you might have learned why it’s a bad idea to throw rocks at a hornet’s nest, then try and tell the hornets its someone else’s fault.

    A deadly miscalculation.

  43. - Dick the Retired Historian - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 9:41 pm:

    Skirmisher is right. The entire professional staff of the Historic Preservation Agency’s Historic Sites Division is being wiped out–curators, interpreters, historians, and all. The Division’s irreplaceable corporate memory will vanish with those laid-off employees, many of whom have worked for decades preserving, investigating, and presenting to the public the history of these sites. Nobody will even know how to get into or read the Division’s massive computerized artifact inventory that keeps track of more than 60,000 valuable objects at the sites. Who will answer requests from auditors about the objects? How will the state be held accountable for these antiques? Research accumulated by several generations of historians will be inaccessible and most likely forever lost. Nobody will be left who will even know the significance of the files, and as in the past, unknowing bureaucrats will be more than likely to simply destroy files filled with irreplaceable research.

    Much of our state’s history exists in the buildings, artifacts, manuscripts, and employee memories of the Historic Sites Division. But it is a fragile heritage that our state’s politicians are about to wipe out. What a loss! What a crime!

  44. - Princess - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 9:48 pm:

    Bookworm, while it might be a game of ‘chicken’ to Rod, it is very real to the people who are and have received ‘lay-off’ packages. While threats were present under Edgar and Ryan, this is the first gov. to send the packages out behind the words. We have a govenor who has no use for parks nor historical sites. All I can tell you is that if you care, if you want to see your parks and your historical sites restored you are gonna have to pick up a real pen and write a real letter to your reps and senators. One can’t expect the legislatures to care if we the citizens don’t.

    Levois, it’s got nothing to do with who is making the cuts. Remember the uproar when Edgar had his state park ‘hit list’? When you’re dealing with hunter, fishers, snow mobilers, campers, reunioners ect. they don’t ask who is making these type of cuts, they just want it stopped. To some of us, one just doesn’t mess with certain stuff and the way we spend our lesiure times is one of them. The love we have for our broad state history and preservation is another.

  45. - 21st State - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 11:08 pm:

    first - should we ask Rudy about the communities he ‘organized’ while in NYC ostensibly upholding the Rule of Law in those various positions he held? should we ask for an accounting of those donor records, or is that un-American?

    second – in all of these closures called for by the Gov, why are we not closing the Gov’s Mansion? and on the list is the historic and incredibly-inspirational Dana Thomas House - are you kidding? that is so indicative of how far RRB is from being one of Illinois’ true Native Sons… I vote for Mr. Frank Lloyd Wright on this one and it’s a shame this race isn’t up for a vote this November for I am already appalled at the $20m spent by the incumbent by Feb 2010 and the remainder by that Nov

    and if I can add a third - when will the truth about how much our state officials are wasting in
    a) not demanding accountability in the current budget process ( convinced it’s not working yet? or is $44b not yet enough of a hole?); and
    b) hiding our true pension and other unfunded liabilities and thus passing the truth to our little ones

    but Mr Gov and other Leaders, aren’t our newborns so cute when they don’t know your crimes against the voters’ trust? they’re so trusting…

    maybe a new academic course could be developed in the U of I system, subsidized by a foundation or two of course, that took all those kids who have no academic future and focused them on public sector economics and mathematics… it seems, even in the face of Big Hugs of epic proportions, we need to develop political will from somewhere, and I think the time is ripe to start… Feb 2010 isn’t that far away, ya’know

  46. - Arthur Andersen - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 11:39 pm:

    15 minutes of good scrubbing in the budget could find pork or nonsense spending to cover the cost of these parks and sites without “taxes on people,” robbing Peter to pay Paul, fund sweeps, or laying off more people.

    Here’s a small down payment.

    1)Shutting down the Illinois Air Force would be a nice start, including the ones not at IDOT but also used for executive commuting. (You’ll have to do your own research where those are.)

    2)Zeroing out GOMB’s consultants and experts line item would be number two It’s not just the direct waste of money, but the indirect waste of money caused by killing off all the genius ideas they generate.

    3)GRF discretionary grants and contracts at DCEO-zero them out and line item the ones with merit.

    4)CMS hard spending freeze-all funds. More $$ per capita is w***ed way there than any place east of the Mississippi save the Federal Government.

    5)Abolish the SS, er, Office of the Inspector General and give the dough to the real police we already have, the Illinois State Police. Speaking of the ISP, cut enough uneeded EDP and equipment approps elsewhere to fund a 500-1000 squad car purchase. And, let Mayor Daley handle his own crime problems.

    6)Reduce the Gov/OMB admin approp by the same percentage they reduced the constitutionals plus the dollar amount they expect to save by moving IDOT TS to Harrisburg.

    7)Zero out Hollywood Hendon’s walkin’ around ISBE money.

    8) Reduce each school district’s State Aid by the amount they pay a superintendent (or other official) over the State Superintendent of Education’s salary. Local control should equal local responsibility.

    9)Eliminate the $11 million plus now paid annually to the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund primarily due to their inferior investment performance and richer benefits than the Downstate TRS.

    10) Eliminate “last day” and other pension spiking provisions in the State Employees and GA Pension Systems.

  47. - XDNR - Friday, Sep 5, 08 @ 8:47 am:

    I don’t know where to start. The budget at IDNR has been cut every year since the gov. has been in office, and now this. I was fortunate to be at IDNR and Conservation in what will now be termed the “golden years.” A time where we were the envy of most states, leaders in the nearly every aspect of a wide ranging agency.

    The gov. seems to pride himself on never having visited a state park. Regardless if he has an enjoyment for those resources, it is his responsibility to be the caretaker of the facilities. It took years of dedicated professionals working together to develop the system to where it was in 2002. Was it perfect? No, but there is no comparison to the situation today. Many of the qualified staff were let go, others such as myself saw the hand writing on the wall and left. That left a huge void in the agency and allowed some of those posts to be filled with unqualified individuals. My fear regarding this agency is that it will take many millions of dollars to unwind this tangled mess that the gov has spun. When a park is closed the facilities deteriorate at a rapid rate and it will take a much greater effort to reopen the facility.

    A perfect example is the Dana Thomas House. The facility was neglected for years, and then took millions of dollars to restore. Now the gov wants to close this treasure, the finest example of FLW’s work and furnishings in the world and let it deteriorate once more. I’m surprised he hasn’t proposed a yard sale for those original pieces of furniture.

  48. - Geo - Friday, Sep 5, 08 @ 7:14 pm:

    I for one think there should be a closure of this democratic nonsense, some how things just don’t add up for me. We pay of upkeep of a mansion for our Governor. We pay for maintaining security of our head of state, his aircraft and other transportation needs, his retirement. We have a democratic mess paid for by the taxpayer of this state. What kind of mess do we have here, what have we the voting people of this state created? I know there are too many rules for us “working class” whom keep the economy rolling… maybe only for the futures of a few elite. How about a few Rules for heads of government, first on my list would required that the Governor live in the home that is provided for him, period. I wonder when will the voters of this state say enough, and stand. Thinking ahead, there should be bill in the house that requires the next Gov. to make use of public transportation, “especially from the mansion where as required buy law to live” for his commute right there in Springfield Illinois. Our leaders need to hear the real masses and improve their decisions.

  49. - farmman - Friday, Sep 5, 08 @ 8:06 pm:

    This is the kind of government that the voters of the “nanny state” deserve. Until we are able to break the back of the machine we in Illinois will never fare better. The democrats only know one way to operate in this state. Remember we have elections and the same idiots just keep getting re-elected. It is time to wash our hands of this mess. We are in the mode of chasing jobs from the state to our neighbors and having revenue growth that does not keep up with inflation. How can we add new programs with out raiseng taxes? It’s simple gut what is important to down-state and keep on pandering to the city of Chicago! You do not need to be a statesman to govern in this manner, you just have to pander to city and the hell with the rest of the state.

  50. - farmgirl - Monday, Sep 8, 08 @ 2:28 pm:

    Illinois park is the only treed area Marseilles has, we use it as our park. There are no other facilities that can handle the boaters we get to tjis beautiful spot on the river. It is 31/2 miles of the river. You have to see it.

  51. - Brian Pearce - Wednesday, Sep 17, 08 @ 8:53 pm:

    repost from
    This may be a little out of context but is there a lawyer type here that could look into the deed thing??

    Posted: 17 Sep 2008 19:17 Post subject:


    First of all this is not a right/left issue. This is a “Stupid is as stupid does issue”. We don’t have a lot going for us out here for tourists but these parks. I am not just talking about the ones in the immedite area. I AM TALKING ABOUT ALL OF THEM. They are all a refuge and natural wonder for their area. If the state does not want to keep them open then the local goverments should declare them condemmed and wrest control from the state to keep them open.

    I agree, this is an attempt to run a threat to get what those in power want or…
    This is an attempt to sell off the property to some developer.
    I also recall being told that the original property that Lowden sits on was originally a artists retreat created by Taft. Most don’t realize this but Oregon was the vacation paridise for Chicago back in the day. You only have to look at the vacation home of Stronghold Castle to see this. My bet is if someone looked into this Taft likely deeded over the property to the state to be used only as a state park. Anything else may violate the deed and return ownership to the relatives. This may be a way to block any sales or closure of this park. You may also find that most if not all of these state parks were deeded to the state in this manner. They may have no choice but to keep them open or loose them. Fight it kids. We need a group to file suit. There has to be more that can be done about it other than #%&! about it in here. I’m a lousy organizer but would be proud to stand in a protest in Springfield with people from all of the affected areas. Would you?? Control of this state also has to be wrested from Chicago. That is a long time overdue. Tax strikes?? It has been done elsewhere.

  52. - Jim Duke - Thursday, Sep 18, 08 @ 10:21 pm:

    The Governor should be ashmed of himself for allowing these parks to close. In a time when money is tight for most families, he is taking a place away that families can go and spend time together and not have it cost them a arm and leg. I can say the Governor and anyone who allows this will not be getting my vote or any of my families votes.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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