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It’s not anything new, but that doesn’t make it Kosher

Friday, Oct 31, 2014

* The Tribune editorial board commented today on a DCEO spokesman’s admission this week that the agency is trying to get new project announcements out the door before election day. You remember that one, right?

“We have a good story to tell — and do I want to tell it before Nov. 4? Yes. Is that a crime?”

* From the Trib

As Crain’s pointed out: Quinn committed $22 million to four companies this month alone.

Did taxpayers get snookered in the rush to roll out these projects before Nov. 4? Did the companies slyly extort especially sweet packages, knowing that Team Quinn faced a pre-election deadline to get the deals done?

Those are good questions for Gov. Quinn. Inquiring Illinois taxpayers surely want to know.

Yes, those are good questions.

* But back to the DCEO spokesman for a minute. Longtime commenter “Soccermom” made this valid point the other day

Being an effective government spokesperson is not actually intuitive — you need to learn (preferably not the hard way) that whenever somebody mentions an election, you refer them to the campaign office. Boom. End of story.

It’s not an issue of “telling the truth.” It’s an issue of knowing where your paycheck comes from. And when you work for the State, your paycheck comes from the residents of Illinois — no matter who they vote for, or even if they vote.

Are the people of Illinois paying you to comment on the election? No, they are not. They are paying you to let them know what the State is doing with their money. That’s your job. Period.


- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Friday, Oct 31, 14 @ 11:21 am:

    Leave it to the Chicago Tribune to find a way to complain that Pat Quinn is creating jobs too quickly.

    I would have preferred these announcements in June, and if the Tribune believed that Quinn delayed jobs deals to benefit himself, I would side with them.

    But complaining he created jobs faster to benefit himself? Isn’t that how democracy is supposed to work?

    On the flipped, Chris Christie pops into the state every three weeks to give Rauner a bear hug and not a word from the Tribune editorial board on Bridgegate. Actual, bona fide, abuse of power.

    You made your endorsement. Fine. We get it. Bruce is your guy. Even though he clouted his daughter into Walter Peyton Prep, which should have disqualified him immediately.

  2. - Chicago Cynic - Friday, Oct 31, 14 @ 11:22 am:

    Soccermom is dead on. Roeder made the classic gaffe - he inadvertently told the truth. It’s what Rich pointed out Quinn did in 2010 and what all incumbents do before election day.

    There’s nothing wrong with it if they do the deals by the book. In the case of the largest of these deals, that’s exactly what happened. So let’s not feed the idiotic hysteria over this latest non-story.

  3. - Stones - Friday, Oct 31, 14 @ 11:23 am:

    Soccermom is right on point. I found the DCEO spokesman’s statement sort of odd. I’ll give him credit for being truthful however.

  4. - Anon. - Friday, Oct 31, 14 @ 11:24 am:

    What YDD says they said:

    ==But complaining he created jobs faster to benefit himself? Isn’t that how democracy is supposed to work?==

    What they actually said:

    “Did taxpayers get snookered in the rush to roll out these projects before Nov. 4? Did the companies slyly extort especially sweet packages, knowing that Team Quinn faced a pre-election deadline to get the deals done?”

  5. - Snucka - Friday, Oct 31, 14 @ 11:24 am:

    What’s not kosher is the fact that Bruce Rauner threatened to “bury” a female employee and ruin her family.

  6. - circularfiringsquad - Friday, Oct 31, 14 @ 11:24 am:

    Mr/Ms Soccermom
    Apparently you have never tried to tell a reporter from IL or elsewhere that you are in a government office or on a govt phone and need to move/call back to continue….they get all whiney.
    Dave’s choice of words were not the best, but who know how many times this reporter or other asked the election day question….welcome to the real world

  7. - Carhart Representative - Friday, Oct 31, 14 @ 11:25 am:

    I hate corporate handouts like the plague. I think states are in a race to the bottom. However, I don’t think the price that Illinois paid seem unusual. If we see an excessive bill in the form of tax breaks from one of these countries, it’s a story. So far, I don’t see anything out of line with what Indiana and Wisconsin pay.

  8. - DuPage Dave - Friday, Oct 31, 14 @ 11:27 am:

    Making this an issue is baloney. States make deals with businesses and when that happens whoever is Governor gets to make the announcement. Rauner would do exactly the same thing. Geez.

  9. - VanillaMan - Friday, Oct 31, 14 @ 11:27 am:

    I want to tell it before Nov. 4

    Take that phrase out of the sentence, and I don’t think there would be a problem.

    It is like the NRI situation. You take out the political angle, and the timing, and you don’t have the problem.

    Incumbent governors are supposed to govern, right through elections. It would be silly to expect them to avoid certain aspects of their job because they are running for reelection. Naturally, if they are running for reelection, then there would be many who will do their governing in a grand public manner, in order to get an edge over a political opponent.

    But as I have written before, whatever good or bad that happens while a candidate is governing as the incumbent, impacts them on election day. If we wish to challenge them by pointing out the mistakes they made, then we ought to balance those challenges by allowing them the opportunity to point out the good as well.

    Want this all to end?

    TERM LIMITS would remove any campaign incentives to play this game.

  10. - anon - Friday, Oct 31, 14 @ 11:27 am:

    Yellow Dog, those examples you just gave are as far apart as Cairo and South Beloit.

    The Quinnster, and dems overall, just love giving away other peoples money. Its in their blood.

  11. - Wordslinger - Friday, Oct 31, 14 @ 11:31 am:

    “Inquiring Illinois taxpayers surely want to know.”

    Nice to see that the Tribbies have reached such a healthy state of self-awareness that they unashamedly adapt the tagline of The National Enquirer for their Ivory Tower scribbles.

  12. - Soccermom - Friday, Oct 31, 14 @ 11:32 am:

    Nope, CFS. Not once. Never has happened. I didn’t even know that reporters do that.

    Because if a reporter gets whiney, I guess a spokesperson has no choice…

  13. - Demoralized - Friday, Oct 31, 14 @ 11:35 am:

    ==The Quinnster, and dems overall, just love giving away other peoples money. ==

    Oh grow up. It’s in the blood of EVERY politician. Find me one governor who doesn’t go out and make big splashy announcements about handing out money and I’ll give you $1M. Some of you say the most asinine things sometimes.

  14. - Black Ivy - Friday, Oct 31, 14 @ 11:40 am:

    I, for one appreciate the DCEO spokesperson’s candor. Rich, you wroter earleir today of Rauner’s alleged inability to share the spotlight on his accomplishments (which I WHOLLY disagree with). At least, he does not use Illinois tax dollars to “strongly encourage” businesses, community orgnizations, and individuals alike to support his adminsitration just in time for elections and, ultimately, cast their votes for him. Doing so is clearly unethical and, I suspect, unlawful.

  15. - Norseman - Friday, Oct 31, 14 @ 11:49 am:

    Come closer, I’m going to let you in on a big secret I’ve learned from my 29 years with a state agency. Governors and their staff ask agencies to create programs/initiatives that make them look good. They like to have announcements and implementation done before elections. One, Blago, didn’t even care about implementation. They were cranking out announcements about initiatives left and right. Once the PR pop was done, most of his initiatives died a quiet death from neglect.

    Except when something unique pops up, i.e. grantee using funds for vacations or something, the media feeds on the efforts to “help the public.” Seldom do they follow-up on the effectiveness or sustainability of the initiatives.

    Needless to say, all these “good things” done by the agencies find their way in some issue paper, brochure, speech or ad on behalf of the Governor.

    The problem with the PIO is that he forgot that we’re not dealing with grown-ups who can “handle the truth.” He needed to play the game and be coy about the realities of being an elected official. Now if it is found that money was spent illegally, then that should be the issue.

  16. - Soccermom - Friday, Oct 31, 14 @ 11:56 am:

    “One, Blago, didn’t even care about implementation. They were cranking out announcements about initiatives left and right. Once the PR pop was done, most of his initiatives died a quiet death from neglect.”

    Thank goodness for small blessings.

  17. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Friday, Oct 31, 14 @ 11:58 am:

    Oh, Rich, what a difference a year makes.

    From the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board, last December:

    Last month, Speaker Madigan blocked a vote in his chamber on legislation to grant tax incentives to ADM, chemical company Univar and Florida-based Office Depot, which recently merged with Illinois-based OfficeMax. The newly combined office supply retailer had asked both Illinois and Florida for offers before determining which would retain its headquarters. After Illinois shelved its proposal, Office Depot picked Boca Raton, Fla., where it can take advantage of an existing economic development package.

    Should Illinois have outbid Florida? That’s anybody’s guess. One more reason to recalibrate what incentives Illinois will offer, for what certifiable returns.

    The bottom line: Illinois needs to modernize its system to better align the interests of taxpayers and employers. We’re glad to see that Madigan has called for hearings on this topic tentatively scheduled to convene before the General Assembly in January. We do hope political leaders tone down the anti-business rhetoric and keep in mind that this state has the fourth-highest unemployment rate in the nation. We need jobs.

    Yeah, tone down the anti-business rhetoric and gin up the anti-government rhetoric. That’ll make Illinois attractive.

    Contrary to Rich’s opinon, some people not only read the Tribune editorials but actually remember what they wrote. 11 months ago.

  18. - Old Timer - Friday, Oct 31, 14 @ 12:15 pm:

    Has the staffer been removed from his position to another state agency.

  19. - Sir Reel - Friday, Oct 31, 14 @ 12:38 pm:

    I agree that all Governors take advantage of positive announcements at election time. Sometimes it’s a coincidence. Sometimes announcements are delayed for maximum political impact.

    While many will say that’s the way it’s always done, it’s not always best. I know of grant recipients who waited and waited for the Governor’s announcement. Construction seasons were missed. Contractors who bid on the projects moved on to other work and costs went up when new bids were solicited. Not to mention the public had to wait.

    Sometimes there’s a real cost.

  20. - A guy... - Friday, Oct 31, 14 @ 1:06 pm:

    And that’s why I’m smitten with Soccermom. We don’t agree on a lot. But she’s concise with her thoughts. #Blush

  21. - shockjock - Friday, Oct 31, 14 @ 1:16 pm:

    This even being a story exemplifies why the vast majority of regular people (read: voters) hate politicians. The fact that many on this blog believe the PIO should have lied feeds our discontentment.

    The facts are these: Quinn got the job done and, because there’s an election coming up, it’s more than likely the grant recipient agreed to the deal now as they will maximize their media exposure. In the words I doubt the state “got snookered” in the deal; it was more likely the reverse.

  22. - Soccermom - Friday, Oct 31, 14 @ 1:25 pm:

    To be clear - I do NOT think the PIO should have lied. The PIO should have stayed within the four corners of his job description and answered questions related to state activities and expenditures. Questions related to campaigns should be directed to the campaign office.

  23. - Responsa - Friday, Oct 31, 14 @ 1:34 pm:

    It’s been evident for a while from comments on this blog that a lot of people really do have trouble separating the optics and practice of politics from the practice and responsibility of actual governing for all the citizens of Illinois. But boy, has this thread and the one from a couple days ago about Roeder and the DCEO been an eye-opener as to the pervasiveness of this problem.

  24. - plutocrat03 - Friday, Oct 31, 14 @ 2:04 pm:

    and when you review things in 6 months, the announcement somehow does not work out as planned.

  25. - shockjock - Friday, Oct 31, 14 @ 2:10 pm:

    I understand, Soccermom, the point you are trying to make. I seriously doubt this PIO had anything to do with the deals that went down, so yes no one disagrees he should conferred with the Governor’s office regarding his remarks.

    But as I mentioned the other day, he’s not a hack but a 30-year veteran of the news business. Knowing it from that end, he was certainly overzealous in trying to answer a rather obvious question so why lie?

    A political hack would handled it better but I’d rather have the state hire more professionals and less hacks.

  26. - Soccermom - Friday, Oct 31, 14 @ 2:22 pm:

    Shockjock, you do NOT understand the point I am making. I am saying he should have said, “It’s not my job to comment on anything related to the election.” Because it’s not. That is the truth.

    It doesn’t matter if someone calls and asks you to comment on an election, or the weather, or a movie, or their new dress. If it’s not your specific job to comment, then don’t.

    My current job includes some very specific spokesperson responsibilities. It is my job to respond to media about a clearly distinct group of issues. If somebody asks me to comment on anything else — not my job. Which means it’s probably somebody elses’s job. And I should let them do it.

    This has nothing to do with “telling the truth.” It has to do with giving accurate, timely responses to questions that are in my purview. And that’s all I’m paid to say.

    In fact, what you don’t seem to understand is that there’s a slippery slope involved when a government spokesperson starts commenting on campaign-related stuff. It undermines your credibility, and it leads people to believe that their tax dollars are being used to fund a satellite campaign office. And that’s just not right.

    So a good spokesperson draws a bright line and doesn’t cross it. And reporters who don’t like that? Well, the campaign office number is available on-line, and someone should be help you there. Thanks so much!

  27. - Soccermom - Friday, Oct 31, 14 @ 2:35 pm:

    It’s not just government spokesfolks who have to keep this in mind. When I was working in the private sector in Illinois, I suddenly got a bunch of calls about a major campaign in the Minnesota. (Long story….) I was kind of blindsided — but thanks to some good training, I did the smart thing and said, “I’m not working on the campaign, I have no knowledge of the campaign or its decisions, and I can’t comment. But I believe the campaign office number is available on-line…”

    If it’s not your job to talk about it, you probably don’t have enough information to keep from saying something stupid. So don’t.

  28. - shockjock - Friday, Oct 31, 14 @ 2:36 pm:

    Ok Soccermom got it. “Shockingly would not comment as to whether the PIO Committed a mortal sin.” Feel better now?

  29. - Not OW - Friday, Oct 31, 14 @ 3:22 pm:

    Is that a crime? I suppose we’ll find out after Election Day, much the way we will find out about NRI.

  30. - walker - Friday, Oct 31, 14 @ 3:22 pm:

    Soccermom: very smart, deeply experienced

  31. - Soccermom - Friday, Oct 31, 14 @ 3:26 pm:

    Walker. :)

  32. - Precinct Captain - Friday, Oct 31, 14 @ 5:49 pm:

    ==- Black Ivy - Friday, Oct 31, 14 @ 11:40 am:==

    Name one Rauner-backed Illinois business that created net jobs.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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