* As I’ve often said before, this whole “living in the governor’s mansion” issue is silly. I defended Rod Blagojevih time and time again on it, and grew sick of the whining from Springfieldians that the guy didn’t want his kids going to school here. I didn’t blame him one bit, particularly since he wasn’t all that popular with state employees, thousands of whom also send their kids to school here.
Gov. Quinn, however, promised he’d live in the mansion, and the Tribune reports that he hasn’t really done so…
…Quinn stays at the ornate, taxpayer-funded house only sporadically. During his first year in office, Quinn slept there 55 nights, mostly while lawmakers were in session. He didn’t spend more than three consecutive nights in the executive mansion.
He over-promised, plain and simple. But the fact that he doesn’t live in an “ornate, taxpayer-funded” mansion does not, as the Tribune story claims, “belies the populist image” Quinn projects. If anything, living in his own modest Chicago home is far more populist, as far as I believe.
* The real meat of the Tribune story, however, is that Quinn has on at least a couple of occasions appeared to misuse his state plane to go back and forth between Springfield and Chicago…
On a handful of occasions, Quinn took a state plane to Springfield during the day, only to fly back to Chicago the same night. Among these cases were trips to attend a campaign fundraiser and his aunt’s funeral. Quinn defended the funeral round trip as an appropriate use of taxpayer money because he was honoring a woman who was a “citizen of Illinois for eight decades.” […]
On June 29, Quinn met with Mayor Richard Daley in Chicago before flying to Springfield to huddle with Democratic legislative leaders. Quinn was there for just over two hours before flying back to Chicago, where he hosted an evening campaign fundraiser at the downtown Hyatt.
Quinn said his use of the plane was appropriate and he did not make the round trip because of the fundraiser, but because he planned to attend the annual Rainbow/PUSH meeting in Chicago the following morning. […]
On Oct. 10, Quinn flew from Chicago in the afternoon to host a Springfield reception for his former Northwestern University law classmates, then flew back to Chicago about five hours later. On Dec. 19, Quinn flew to Springfield to host a holiday open house and staff party before returning to Chicago a few hours later.
He should give that stuff a rest. And the campaign use ought to be strictly verboten.
* Speaking of the state plane, the Tribune also had a piece on that today…
Lawmakers are proposing a wide variety of ways to cut the woefully out-of-balance budget, but curbing their use of state aircraft is not at the top of the list.
Dozens of lawmakers fly between Chicago and Springfield on the state’s fleet of four executive airplanes at discounted rates subsidized by taxpayers, according to Illinois Department of Transportation records.
Legislators who’ve taken the most flights defended their use of state planes, saying they would get reimbursed for mileage if they drove.
It’s a legit hit, but I doubt they mind too much.
* Graphic: Top Illinois legislators using state aircraft