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Question of the day - Golden Horseshoe Awards

Monday, Dec 19, 2011 - Posted by Rich Miller

* I’m creating a new award to honor the memory of the late Rep. Mark Beaubien. The Platinum Lifetime Service award for the General Assembly is posthumously given to Mark. Commenter “Oswego Willy” sums him up well

His service to his district, his caucus and his state make this a deserving nomination. Many times we all say someone can not be replaced. This is one of the rare occasions that it’s too true.

* The Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Republican State Representative goes to Rep. Skip Saviano. He not only had the most intense nominations, but he also had the highest number of nominations by far. Commenter “eddy” gushed

There is no question just how hard this man works for his consituents, his support for business and labor groups. He participates in negotiations and gets things done.

Tell me who, in the Capitol and in this state does not go to Skip for any type of problem or issue?

Nobody, that’s who. The man is a perpetual motion machine.

* Runner-up is Rep. Ed Sullivan

Partisan but comfortable crossing the aisle to logically discuss matters. Understands district realities and their impact on voting allowing divisions to not be personal.

* I pondered the Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Democratic State Representative all morning and finally gave up. It’s a tie. Rep. John Bradley

John Bradley. Risen in the ranks and in the estimation of colleagues and those who work with him on dicey issues. Smart, direct, almost scary in ability to stay focused.

* And Rep. Frank Mautino

When you need to get something done and you want a guy smart enough to get it and hard working enough to work through institutional obstacles, Frank’s your guy.

Both of those gentlemen repeatedly showed their worth this year. I just couldn’t pick a favorite, so they’ll have to share.

* On to today’s nominations. We’re running out of time, so let’s do three today…

* The Steve Brown Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Government Spokesperson. Speaker Madigan’s spokesman won this thing so much that we had to name it after him.

* Best state agency director

* Best statewide officeholder

Please, nominate in all three categories. And remember to explain your nomination. Just posting somebody’s name will not work because I’ll ignore you. It’s about intensity, my friends, not just numbers.


  1. - In the know - Monday, Dec 19, 11 @ 11:59 am:

    Best agency director- Catherine Shannon, acting director at Historic Preservation. Canned at Labor earlier this year after doing, by all accounts a very good job, and then put in to a directorship outside her area of expertise(labor) and receiving rave reviews there now. Makes you wonder what Quinn was thinking.

    Statewide its hands down for Bill Holland. Very fair and very respected by everyone. Will roll into his third term if he wants it.

    Spokesperson-I feel like I’m cheating if i can’t nominate Brown!!!

  2. - Rich Miller - Monday, Dec 19, 11 @ 12:04 pm:

    To the two deleted commenters: all decisions are final and no negativity is allowed.

  3. - southernillinois - Monday, Dec 19, 11 @ 12:10 pm:

    Chris Koch at ISBE. He puts up with a lot from all sides not to mention the budgetary problems but he always treats everyone with respect and takes time to listen to everyone.
    Statewide I agree with Bill Holland. He is ethical and holds his ground
    Spokesperson: Ryan Croke from the governor’s office. Easy to work with and gets back to you when you have questions, concerns. He may have to carry the Governor’s water but he does it well and never treats people in a demeaning or disrespectful way.

  4. - northernillinois - Monday, Dec 19, 11 @ 12:45 pm:

    Only one nomination - Malcolm Weems at CMS. He runs CMS well. Enough said.

  5. - Michelle Flaherty - Monday, Dec 19, 11 @ 12:49 pm:

    You gotta go with Mica, I mean she won the only true test — the State Fair “celebrity” harness race.

  6. - Observer of the State - Monday, Dec 19, 11 @ 12:51 pm:

    For Agency Director I would go with Sec. Saddler of DHS.

    I have never encountered a smarter or more caring person taking charge of a large agency in difficult times.

    I am not sure Ryan Croke is a spokesperson but I agree that as an advocate for the Governor he is respectful, timely and intelligent. From the Governor’s office I can think of no one with which I would rather work.

  7. - Give Me A Break - Monday, Dec 19, 11 @ 12:53 pm:

    Director: Michelle Saddler at DHS. She does not hide behind her staff and is willing to meet with most anyone. She has kept DHS from imploding in the face huge budget cuts and increased demand for services.

    Statewide: Holland, but I hate his hearings.

    Spokesperson: Mica, she somehow can figure out what the Gov really means.

  8. - soccermom - Monday, Dec 19, 11 @ 12:56 pm:

    Sorry — I have to put in a good word for Marc Miller, who has done a great job of reviving DNR. He has brought so much integrity and commitment to that agency, and is doing so much with so little funding. Great director, great guy.

  9. - Gator - Monday, Dec 19, 11 @ 12:57 pm:

    1. John Patterson from Senate President Cullerton’s office. He is sharp and witty. He can explain the hardest concepts in a simple manner and has some great one-liners.

    2. Mark Pruitt who was head of the Illinois Power Agency for most of 2011. He saved millions for ratepayers even though he had NO staff or help from the Governor’s office. Consumers were in good shape with such an objective person.

    3. Senate President Cullerton. Very smooth - gets his way in the end and does i with a sense of humor. He is also easy to approach.

  10. - Cheryl44 - Monday, Dec 19, 11 @ 1:18 pm:

    Spokesperson–Mica Matsoff. Interpreting Quinnspeak has to be a tough job and she does it well.

    I have to agree with whoever said Catherine Shannon, acting director at Historic Preservation. She’s making it an area of expertise.

    People are going to disagree, but Jesse White has made going to get your drivers license renewed not just bearable but actually enjoyable, at least at the Chicago express office. I used to dread going there, now I look forward to it.

  11. - Team EQ - Monday, Dec 19, 11 @ 1:34 pm:

    Best Agency Director- Michelle RB Sadler, DHS. Leading DHS in good times is no easy task and these aren’t good times at all. She’s done an admirable job balancing the interests of the human services community with lawmakers who did not realize how deep some of the cuts they made this year went. Above all else, she is a director who personally cares for everyone at DHS.

    Best statewide official: Jesse White, Secretary of State. The man keeps on going. It’s cliché, but what person over 80 who can still do a headstand doesn’t deserve a horseshoe?

    Best government spokesperson-Brie Callahan, Governor’s office. Look at the tale of the tape:

    Worker’s Comp Reform- big win for Team PQ and biz.

    Secure Communities-Good government is good politics.

    Safeguarding the procurement reforms (SB178) - Beat back one of the biggest lobbies in Springfield and saved the state $1 billion.

    Are hospitals at the table on charity care?- You betcha.

    Budget Reallocation – Took a horrible situation and stayed consistently fact-based and on-message. The folks at all the affected agencies owe her a beer for not panicking when everyone else was.

    She’s had a great year in a tough environment, been frank not flashy, and oh yeah, found time to have a little fun with the honorable Governor of New Jersey.

  12. - Raising Kane - Monday, Dec 19, 11 @ 1:38 pm:

    I have to go with Malcolm Weems too. Not just because I find him attractive (which I do) or that he has a very pleasant personality (which he does) but he is one of the few people in the administration that follows up on things, gets back to you and gets the job done.

  13. - TCB - Monday, Dec 19, 11 @ 1:48 pm:

    =I have to go with Malcolm Weems too. Not just because I find him attractive (which I do) or that he has a very pleasant personality (which he does) but he is one of the few people in the administration that follows up on things, gets back to you and gets the job done. =

    Malcolm, Is that you?

    Anyone who knows Malcolm personally knows that the last thing he needs to hear is how good-looking he is.

    And yes, Malcolm is a great guy with a great sense of humor. He can really dish it out, but can take it.

  14. - JoeZ - Monday, Dec 19, 11 @ 1:59 pm:

    Statewide: Judy Baar Topinka- For all her oddities, she knows state govt, will stand up for what she thinks, and will work with everyone.

    Director: Saddler, DHS- I wouldn’t want the job.

    Spokesperson: Brad Hahn, Comptroller’s Office- While he is new to the state stuff, everyone likes him and finds him to be remarkably conscientious; plus he’s an important part of one of the well-run statewide offices.

  15. - walkinfool - Monday, Dec 19, 11 @ 2:26 pm:

    director: Julie Hamos, deals with very tough issues with creativity, sensitivity, and integrity.
    Officer: Just got to be Holland. Everybody trusts him, and I cannot think of anyone else that holds for.
    Spokesperson: Patterson. You can’t beat his sneaky wit, and saavy.

  16. - Easy - Monday, Dec 19, 11 @ 2:36 pm:

    Best statewide–JBT, simply because the bluntness is refreshing and unlike others, she isn’t seeking a highers. She just wants to do the job she has really well.

    Best Director: Hamos. She definitely had a vision for the role and was able to convince the GA to go along with it. she requested a lot of new powers and resources, now that she has them let’s see if she follows through.

    Best Spokes: Sara Wojciki. she helped advance a complicated, insider issue like pensions become part of the political lexicon this year.

  17. - Anonymous - Monday, Dec 19, 11 @ 2:38 pm:

    This post will proably be deleted since it does not respond to the question, but it seems appropriate for this blog and its meister: A nod of appreciation and due respect to the recently passed Vaclav Havel. He was a writer who consorted with other writers, artists, and musicians but led an incredible life of dissent against his country’s dictatorship, becoming Czechoslovakia’s and the Czech Republic’s first president. Anyone who can ask Frank Zappa to become part of his government, has a true sense of what freedom looks like. Illinois (here’s my connection to the question at hand) could use Mr. Havel’s style and command of leadership.

  18. - tired of press - Monday, Dec 19, 11 @ 2:38 pm:

    * Best state agency director
    Julie Hamos–People often don’t recognize the huge challenges faced by DFHS due to the economic crisis, the numbers of needy families, and the gigantic task of implementing the federal health care program in Illinois while keeping many opposing sides happy. Hamos never met a problem she couldn’t solve, and dove in full force to figure this out. She has a sharp mind and is a skilled negotiator. Unlike many administrators, she has the big picture and also keeps tabs on all the details. Let’s face it, whether it is public transit or health care or supporting local food, the people of Illinois are better off when she is working on solving our problems.

    * Best statewide officeholder
    Jesse White because he has integrity, raises morale, and runs a completely functional agency. Have you been to other states and tried to get a license? Choose Jesse White!

  19. - soccermom - Monday, Dec 19, 11 @ 2:48 pm:

    Here’s a vote for John Patterson. Smart, funny, and honest.

  20. - CircularFiringSquad - Monday, Dec 19, 11 @ 2:55 pm:

    Statewide: General Holland. The award will be a huge boost to the 3rd term bid

    Agency Director: Hannig should have stayed, but let’s all pull for Warren Ridley at DCEO. He tries and succeeds at make PQ look good and keeps himself out of “difficulties.”

    Spokester: Tough choice. We don’t think you were under any mandate to enshrine Brown permanently. It does seem to be an obvious and very wise decision. Plus we think he was the only one to create an actual award for your silly game. Let’s see…Micah won the horse race, Sara got married so that should be enough for them this year. How about handing the hardware to a joint nomination Katie Sheehan and Patty Schuh. Top notch. Both work long and hard to get positive buzz for their bosses.

  21. - Lucky Number 17 - Monday, Dec 19, 11 @ 3:41 pm:

    Spokesperson: I think that when trying to decide who to choose for best spokesperson, the first place you need to look is at the elected officials themselves.

    I’m hard pressed to think of an elected with a better public image than Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. Certainly that has much to do with her own merits, but President Preckwinkle has been a widely covered executive from a branch of government that, to put it bluntly, a lot of people don’t care to know about.

    A driving force in developing the image of Preckwinkle as Board President is a man who has been able to develop news articles that don’t just have flashy headlines and political jargon, but that tell a story about the evolution of Cook County government that people want to hear.

    Owen Kilmer is deserving of the Golden Horseshoe for best spokesperson.

    In his short time with the President’s office, he has been the man behind her profile in Bloomberg Business, got Neil Steinburg to call her bluntness “refreshing,” started the conversation about Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center reform through a front page piece in the Tribune, and pitched a story with Mark Brown where he would end up saying “it’s a modest increase, to my thinking,” when reporting on her alcohol tax increase proposal.

    Sometimes spokesmen respond to the news, sometimes they help make it. Kilmer, at the ripe age of 24, has proven he is capable of the latter.

    Best Statewide: Jesse White - because you can’t say anything bad about Jesse White….

    Best Director: Michelle Sadler from DHS. I think JoeZ put it best, “I wouldn’t want the job.”

  22. - WizzardOfOzzie - Monday, Dec 19, 11 @ 3:46 pm:

    Best Director-

    Michelle Saddler: Incredibily smart and companssionate, while also being loyal to the boss. A perfect fit for the toughest position in state government. She has also surrounded herself w/ great staff. The Graces and Layla Sulieman-Gonzalez are all top notch.

    There are a number of other really good choices that may not get enough accolades because they just spend their time doing their jobs.

    Brian Hamer (Revenue)- Extraordinarily compentent and dedicated. Knows the tax code inside and out. Has one of the most thankless jobs there are… collecting taxes.

    Kristi LaFleur (Tollway): Got a toll increase passed in this political environment. Enough said. Their rollout of the toll increase should be a case study in effective public affairs management. Always knowledgable and prepared.

    Mary Kenney (Housing Development Authority)- Energetic and creative.

    Best Spokesperson:

    Mica Matsoff (Quinn)- She has made strides in accomplishing the impossible, assembling an effective communications strategy for Quinn. She is smart, agressive, and effective. And usually smiling, which I know I wouldn’t be able to do if I had her job.

    Best Statewide- Jesse White. He doesn’t get enough credit for how smoothly he runs his office. For many people the Sec. of State’s office is their only touchpoint with government.

  23. - Endof2011 - Monday, Dec 19, 11 @ 4:31 pm:

    Spokesperson: Joe Tybor, Spokesperson for the Supreme Court. Hes a heck of a nice guy and does a great job for the judiciary. Granted he only has to deal with a chief and 6 judges, but I imagine he’s dealing with pretty strong personalities. When’s the last time you read a bad story about the court? I don’t recall one this year. That can’t be said for any other branch of government.

    Agency Director: I concur with comments about Mark Pruitt. The guy saved the tax payers billions of dollars and got fired for it.

    Constitutional Officer: Bill Holland. If more people paid attention to what his office does we would have far fewer problems.

  24. - The man - Monday, Dec 19, 11 @ 4:35 pm:

    Statewide-Bill Holland who is very respected by D’s and R’s alike.

    Spokesperson-Patty Schuh..good at what she does and a blast to chat with.

    Director-Catherine Shannon- Has been director of two agencies this year and been outstanding at both. Took it on the chin from Quinn and kept her poise and dignity.

  25. - I don't want to live in Teabagistan - Monday, Dec 19, 11 @ 5:18 pm:

    There are many good people working as Directors in the Admin. But when you look for tireless energy, enthusiasm and ambition and you recognize the thankless task they’ve been handed, I pick Malcolm Weems.

  26. - State Employee - Monday, Dec 19, 11 @ 6:22 pm:

    Director: Hands down Saddler because she is the face of human services and is so compassionate for the people DHS serves, the providers and her staff. She alsways has a smile on her face and being the Secretary of DHS is no easy task!

    Office holder: Jesse White–he has tremendous energy and you would never know by his age. He has improved services at the SoS offices and things only continue to get better.

    Sorry don’t know enough about the spokesman to comment!

  27. - Booger - Monday, Dec 19, 11 @ 7:24 pm:

    Agency Head - Marc Miller DNR, he is a ecological professional and decent policy maker. In a decade that has been marked with political hacks and scandals within agency heads, Miller is above all of that. There is not much that keeps front line workers motivated at the agency, but at least they can take pride in knowing their director is advocating for them. Miller works well with the GA especially when the budget is about is awful as it gets, he’s a realist but tireless fighter..

    Spokesperson - Kelly Kraft GOMB, Does a good job expressing the administration’s budget positions when quite frankly they are hard to figure out. There are few reporters that don’t go to her and IMO she’s heads and shoulders about the other flaks on budget matters. Her background in reporting allows her to know what the reporters want and she is able to soften the all to often ugly budgetary news. It’s easy to see who the reporters look for, do a key word search and you’ll find her more frequently.

    Statewide - It goes without saying for Jesse and Lisa, but you have to give major props to JBT. When she started running for Comptroller, she said I’m back and boy is she ever. She is your kooky aunt that you love because she’s a straight shooter and makes the often scary GOP look just a little less crazy. JBT is a character in every sense of the word when that trait is lacking in our statewide officials. Her office his only out front when it needs to be and her other policy initiatives have been noble. The state would be a lot better off if other statewide leaders, especially the four tops would learn from her.

  28. - Bluebird - Monday, Dec 19, 11 @ 10:37 pm:

    Spokesperson: Dan Rutherford. The guy is everywhere and earnest in promoting the benefits his office can provide to Illinois constituents. Tirelessly. He has a good crew, but since he is always out in front of them, he gets the credit.

    Agency Director: Mary Kenny, IDHA. Mary is the right person at the right place at the right time, in the nick of time.

    It’s unusual to have an agency director promoted from within. It’s even more unusual to have an agency director who began as a secretary 20+ years ago, and worked up to general counsel, and then director (after private sector internship) to much acclaim. Right person.

    It’s unusual to have a director with leave to hire their own GC, though not without a fight. That’s the one who brought Mary back to IDHA. Right place.

    It’s unusual to have a foreclosure/homeownership meltdown that demands action from a usually low profile agency. Right time.

    To conclude, Mary gives a damn, knows what to do, has the wherewithall to go about getting it done (stubborn as a mule with her belly full). That sort hasn’t been seen in these parts for some time, and she’s welcome.

    Statewide Officeholder: Judy Baar Topinka/Jesse White/Lisa Madigan. We have a bunch of folks doing good things. Not really intense, but true.

  29. - Just the Facts - Monday, Dec 19, 11 @ 11:00 pm:

    Hamos, Best Director - hard working, personable, accessible. Trying to solve problems creatively during very challenging times.

    Madigan, Lisa. Smart. Keeps her head down and does a good job for Illinois. Manages to keep her job separate from her Dad.

    Can’t say who I would choose as spokesperson.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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