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You get what you pay for

Friday, Jan 18, 2013

* From WCIA TV

Viewers asked so we dug deeper. Squeezy “The Pension Python” comes at little cost to taxpayers.

Gov. Pat Quinn’s office created the cartoon snake as part of an advocacy website for pension reform. An open records request to the governor’s office revealed the only new cost for the entire web site was a $23 purchase to reserve domain names at GoDaddy.com.

Quinn’s office says the web site was produced in house and a staffer came up with the concept of Squeezy.

Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

48 Comments
  1. - Kasich Walker, Jr. - Friday, Jan 18, 13 @ 9:21 am:

    Dump Squeezy.

    Go for Thunder Thighs.


  2. - Leave a Light on George - Friday, Jan 18, 13 @ 9:21 am:

    Oh, I suspect the staffer is paid very well. Probably got a raise recently.


  3. - Country Boy - Friday, Jan 18, 13 @ 9:23 am:

    Worth every penny.


  4. - Anonymour - Friday, Jan 18, 13 @ 9:24 am:

    The cost is gonna be a lot higher when Disney sues for infringement on behalf of Kaa.


  5. - The Captain - Friday, Jan 18, 13 @ 9:24 am:

    Yeah but what does it cost to feed a cartoon snake everyday? Somebody has to get up every morning and draw & color that snake some food. Cartoon pets are a responsibility.


  6. - Arthur Andersen - Friday, Jan 18, 13 @ 9:31 am:

    Hmmm….hat tip?


  7. - Stones - Friday, Jan 18, 13 @ 9:32 am:

    That’s $23 bucks too much. Makes for some fun humor though.


  8. - schwartzee - Friday, Jan 18, 13 @ 9:33 am:

    Anonymour - I wonder if the staffer who came up with Squeezy is even old enough to remember the Disney version of The Jungle Book.


  9. - Meaningless - Friday, Jan 18, 13 @ 9:35 am:

    Quinn overpayed!


  10. - Meaningless - Friday, Jan 18, 13 @ 9:37 am:

    Upon further investigation it was actually the staffer’s kindergarten son that invented Squeezy!


  11. - Sunshine - Friday, Jan 18, 13 @ 9:38 am:

    276 hours to produce with 62 of those hours on holiday pay. 27 lunches catered in.

    A recorded cost of only $23…..

    Now, you see why we are so financially strapped, using their method of cost explanation. After all, our budget expendatures are done by in-house staff.


  12. - Kasich Walker, Jr. - Friday, Jan 18, 13 @ 9:39 am:

    Was Squeezy introduced at a presser on a stage full of staffers of mixed ethnic heritage?


  13. - scurvydog - Friday, Jan 18, 13 @ 9:45 am:

    Its good to know that there is no cost to have things developed in house. But I suspect the accounting department may disagree.


  14. - Whatever - Friday, Jan 18, 13 @ 9:46 am:

    You get what you pay for…


  15. - Spliff - Friday, Jan 18, 13 @ 9:49 am:

    How much cost is this that staffers pension costing all of us?


  16. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Jan 18, 13 @ 9:50 am:

    “Ok, that’s $23, …out of $40 …4, and 5, …5 and … 10 makes $40 … and don’t forget your receipt. Thanks!”


  17. - Skeptic - Friday, Jan 18, 13 @ 9:51 am:

    If “in-house” means somebody working on State time with State resources, then it cost us more than $23.


  18. - Soccertease - Friday, Jan 18, 13 @ 9:51 am:

    $23 actual cost. What about all the cost savings in-house staff could have generated instead of spending all that time ‘developing’ Squeezy? Forget that thought.


  19. - Wensicia - Friday, Jan 18, 13 @ 9:55 am:

    They should’ve asked for a Capitol Fax poll to pick the right mascot before they went to press. I’ll bet they wouldn’t have ended up with Squeezy as a running joke if they had.


  20. - The Captain - Friday, Jan 18, 13 @ 9:58 am:

    “Yes but I’d like to complain about the lack of accounting for opportunity cost for those state employees who should have been doing actual work instead of working on Squeezy.” - people busy reading and commenting on this website while neglecting their actual work


  21. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Jan 18, 13 @ 10:03 am:

    SNARK ALERT, thank you.

    To: (redacted)

    From: (redacted)

    CC: (redacted), (redacted), (redacted)

    Re: Hard Drive files removed

    (redacted),

    I am aware this is a state computer, but it appears my cartoon JPGs are missing. While some images have (redacted) at (redacted), the one spefically of (redacted) wrapped around the state capitol is for a class I am taking at (redacted), and I need that to turn in for homework.

    I went to look for the picture of the Capitol on the internet to start over in case you lost the pictures you STOLE, and “lo and behold” there is (redacted) wrapped right around the Capitol, just as I had designed for my class. What gives?

    I asked (redacted), and (redacted) and even went so far to ask (redacted) if I could do this homework on this computer and I have CC’d them to verify I had authorization. Again, what gives?

    I look further and now, a whole marketing plan and a $23 Website from GoDaddy.com is around (redacted) wrapped around the Capitol. Can someone explain how my homework became (redacted)’s plan for Pension Reform?

    If I can just get the JPG back to turn in for homework before Tuesday, I will forget this whole fiasco and root for (redacted) on the Capitol as a great plan, as I know it will be.

    Please send the JPG

    (redacted)
    Intern - Office of the (redacted)


  22. - Decaf Coffee Party - Friday, Jan 18, 13 @ 10:11 am:

    And then were all state agency heads called to Chicago to be briefed on the new ad campaign at no cost?


  23. - walkinfool - Friday, Jan 18, 13 @ 10:12 am:

    WCIA TV –”We go after the big issues”


  24. - dupage dan - Friday, Jan 18, 13 @ 10:15 am:

    === The Captain - Friday, Jan 18, 13 @ 9:24 am:

    Yeah but what does it cost to feed a cartoon snake everyday? ===

    You know little about the care and feeding of snakes. I have kept snakes in the past (had a 5′ long boa constrictor - looked alot like Squeezy). Snakes can easily be fed once every week of 2 to maintain weight, energy and health. Having to draw a mouse every 2 weeks is really not a big deal. I think Quinn considered that when he chose a snake as opposed to some other animal since the care costs are so low!!


  25. - BigDoggie - Friday, Jan 18, 13 @ 10:15 am:

    If paying an outside firm would have resulted in a python that would squeeze some of our elected officials, that would have been money well spent.


  26. - Sgt Schultz - Friday, Jan 18, 13 @ 10:21 am:

    Oh please. $23?! As Sgt Schultz, I may know nothing, but even I’m not THAT stupid.


  27. - Norseman - Friday, Jan 18, 13 @ 10:30 am:

    === WCIA TV –”We go after the big issues” ===

    LOL. Most of these local “watching state government” type stories are a joke. They need to give Rich a consulting contract to tell them what real stories they should be covering.


  28. - Norseman - Friday, Jan 18, 13 @ 10:41 am:

    Back to Squeezy - So they pay $23 for a private domain name while the state has its own domain. Not much money, but still a waste in my book. Would Squeezy be even less effective if the website URL ended with “illinois.gov?”

    In the it’s good to be the Governor category, a state agency asking for a graphic from the Blago created CMS graphics unit would be charged approximately $70 per hour. This charge is supposed to cover the costs of the staff. Given the rip-off of the Disney character, they probably didn’t use more than an hour or two. (Covering Squeezy’s color change and the incorporation of state house dome in Squeezy’s grasp.)

    Agencies are also charged by CMS for web-design services.

    Of course all of the Executive agencies are at the beck and call of the Gov. “Work, Work, Work”


  29. - Faxfan - Friday, Jan 18, 13 @ 10:49 am:

    How did they hide the costs of video productions? Clearly done by PR firm.


  30. - Arthur Andersen - Friday, Jan 18, 13 @ 10:54 am:

    “Most of these local watching state government type stories are a joke.”
    Just like Squeezy.
    What do you expect when the local stations are all trolling for story tips on their Facebook and Twitter lol


  31. - RNUG - Friday, Jan 18, 13 @ 10:56 am:

    When I worked for the State, I used to get so frustrated by the financial logic they used.

    If it was already a budgeted item, there was no “cost” because it was in the budget and was money that would have been spent anyway. And don’t even get me started on “baseline budgeting” or “spend it or lose it” at the end of a fiscal year.

    So I “understand” how they came up with the $23 “cost” of Squeezy.

    With that kind of logic, is it any wonder the State can’t figure out where to cut expenses?


  32. - wordslinger - Friday, Jan 18, 13 @ 11:11 am:

    –How did they hide the costs of video productions? Clearly done by PR firm. –

    I hope not. Did you see those production values?


  33. - Anonymous - Friday, Jan 18, 13 @ 11:39 am:

    How embarrasing!


  34. - Norseman - Friday, Jan 18, 13 @ 11:40 am:

    The video is probably the product of the CMS propaganda unit. Again, a billable service to the agencies.


  35. - Rod - Friday, Jan 18, 13 @ 11:51 am:

    How interesting for a state employee to turn her or his own pension benefits into a cartoon snake squeezing the life out of public education and health care.


  36. - Stuff happens - Friday, Jan 18, 13 @ 12:33 pm:

    So LunarPages is hosting the domain for free?

    nslookup thisismyillinois.com
    Name: thisismyillinois.com
    Address: 216.227.216.47

    whois 216.227.216.47@whois.arin.net

    OrgName: Lunar Pages
    OrgId: ACIDL
    Address: 1360 Hancock St.
    City: Anaheim
    StateProv: CA
    PostalCode: 92807
    Country: US
    RegDate: 2005-04-15
    Updated: 2011-09-24
    Ref: http://whois.arin.net/rest/org/ACIDL


  37. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Jan 18, 13 @ 12:34 pm:

    Who is runing the website now? CMS or the Governor’s Office?


  38. - thechampaignlife - Friday, Jan 18, 13 @ 12:48 pm:

    Sorry to hijack the thread (although it is pension related) but, as a follow-up to yesterday’s comments on Martire’s proposal, my math shows the $6.9B/yr as including the bond payments and normal costs. For a $97B 30-year interest-only bond at 5% to pay off the unfunded liability, the annual interest would be $4.85B and the normal cost would be $1.7B/yr for a total cost of $6.55B/yr. The extra $0.35B/yr to arrive at Martire’s $6.9B/yr number would go towards principal (with that number increasing each year as the interest cost decreases as the principal is paid down). So the math adds up to a total cost of $6.9B/yr as presented in the plan but that is, of course, still a big leap from current funding levels that we’re struggling to make.

    So here’s my approach: Refinance the $97B at 5% for 40 years. Start the payments at $5.5B/yr, increasing 2%/yr for inflation. Under this plan, the annual cost is fixed (in today’s dollars) and the entire amount is paid off in 40 years. The first few years will rack up the unfunded liability back from $0B to $14B but eventually compounding interest makes the 2%/yr increases on the $5.5B annual payments overtake the interest costs, even factoring in the interest costs on the additional $14B and inflation increasing the $1.7B/yr normal cost.

    See! Compounding interest can be our friend! And these numbers only look better when you can introduce new revenue sources such as an increase in employee contribution, taxes on marijuana, wage freezes, cost shifts, etc.


  39. - thechampaignlife - Friday, Jan 18, 13 @ 12:50 pm:

    Sorry, correction. The $5.5B/yr starting number is for a 50 year bond. It’s $5.9B/yr for a 40 year bond. I can provide my amortization schedule if anyone cares to double-check my math.


  40. - State Worker - Friday, Jan 18, 13 @ 1:00 pm:

    How about a mascot for the other side of the issue: Sleazy The Pension Fund Spending Politician.


  41. - Anonymouse - Friday, Jan 18, 13 @ 3:29 pm:


    Who is runing the website now? CMS or the Governor’s Office?

    Seriously — does it really matter? Who cares? This is an idiotic story and — frankly — a bunch of lame attempts at (a) insider info (”Um, if CMS is running the site, then blah blah blah”) or (b) unfunny comments about Squeezy.

    It doesn’t matter who hosts it, maintains it, or created it. If they only spent $23 at GoDaddy — that seems pretty reasonable. Sure, state resources were spent on it — but state resources are spent on a lot of stuff. They didn’t outsource it, it was all internal, and it was — in the end — not effective.

    Okay — so move on. Maybe next time they’ll create a site where folks can actually see the impact of the pension issue and interact with some charts and graphs.


  42. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Jan 18, 13 @ 4:18 pm:

    I think I will move on, when Rich tells me to move on, or I don’t feel like posting.

    Until then, I will mock, ask whatever question I would like, as long as its reletive to what Rich is posting, thanks!

    With kindest personal regards, I remain.

    Sincerely yours,

    Oswego Willy


  43. - wordslinger - Friday, Jan 18, 13 @ 4:37 pm:

    –I think I will move on, when Rich tells me to move on, or I don’t feel like posting.

    Until then, I will mock, ask whatever question I would like, as long as its reletive to what Rich is posting, thanks!–

    You’re way out of line there, Willie. As am I.

    That’s a good place to be when the folks who hit their heads on the sidewalks try to get involved.

    Some of the strangest commenters here in recent days have been telling us that you’re supposed to honor ignorance and stupidity.

    Otherwise, they fold up like chilly flowers and cry like babies. And need their NANNIES.

    Meh. Big boys and girls don’t roll that way.

    Keep rocking, Willie. You’re the brightest banana in the bunch and I’m on your side, till the last dog dies.


  44. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Jan 18, 13 @ 4:43 pm:

    Thanks - wordslinger -,

    Funny how others want all the say, and want to sensor everyone else. I can’t be wrong on commenting if - wordslinger - doesn’t think I am.

    I am just trying to keep up with you and all the good commenters, so thanks for your backing, I really appreciate that.


  45. - wordslinger - Friday, Jan 18, 13 @ 5:02 pm:

    Keep going, Willie.

    Like Reagan, I would have voted for Roosevelt four times.

    LOL, that’s how you honk off the crazies.

    Seriously, Ike was hated by the GOP and did all his business with LBJ and Rayburn.

    Nixon rolled the same way, with Mansfield and Carl Albert. Listen to the tapes, he wanted to abandon the GOP and set up John Connally in a third party.

    Reagan and Tip disagreed, but Tip always cleared the way for the president to get an up or down vote.

    I’m a Midwestern moderate, and proud of it.

    But I’m nobody’s fool. I’m my parents’ son and I’ve been around the block a few times.

    If you want my vote, you better pick your knuckles off the ground. Because I’ve gone to school and Sunday school, and I know better.


  46. - Chief Illiniwek - Friday, Jan 18, 13 @ 5:02 pm:

    Right on, Willy. The Constitution and Rich protect our right to be Dopey, darn it.

    Just like they protected the kid in the Governor’s office who wrote that post at 3:29 (and who probably birthed Squeezy.)


  47. - Oswego Willy - Saturday, Jan 19, 13 @ 7:01 pm:

    ===Some of the strangest commenters here in recent days have been telling us that you’re supposed to honor ignorance and stupidity.===

    You ain’t whistling Dixie!

    It’s like the calendar turned, and with it, some strange phoenomenom that “posters” think this is some lame Newspaper or “fringe” wing blog, not concerned with being called out on Dopiness, and they expect any statement, no matter of looney, should not be questioned, and it should be accepted as it is.

    Have they even READ this blog?

    - wordslinger -, my hope is that the policing by Rich and by astute members of this board, like yourself, remind them, Rich’s Blog (We are all guests, and I try to remember that every time I post something!), is something very special, so add to this place, don’t make a mess of it.

    Thanks for the props as well. I mean that, sincerely.


  48. - Oswego Willy - Sunday, Jan 20, 13 @ 12:51 pm:

    ===LOL, that’s how you honk off the crazies.===

    You are so On Point with the realities of the GOP and its history and understanding the politics of it! Thank you, because it gives my belief that the Reagan Rule… is still a pretty dawg gone good thing to believe.

    I use the following:

    ——————-

    Mayor Daley is more conservative than THAT guy …

    I was a huge fan of Dan Rostenkowski.

    I think you just described about 15% of the conservative elected Democrats.

    Being a Reagan Democrat, means they believe they are democrats, but agree with you on some things, how does that feel?

    ——————–

    I have always, always, always thought the Reagan 80% Rule allowed me to be look at my Party, understand policy, and work with the GOP as a whole without being consumed with Labels, Litmus Tests, and Blood Oaths.

    I guess the few GOP “Conservative Reagan Republicans” have no use for the Reagan Rule?

    BTW, just got “Toots” yesterday … looking forward to it, maybe after Football.

    With much respect, - wordlsinger -, as always.


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