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Question of the day - Golden Horseshoe Awards

Monday, Dec 14, 2015

* Other candidates for the 2015 Mark Beaubien Lifetime Service Award for the Illinois House received more nominations, but this one jumped out at me…

Few legislators would make the decision that Esther Golar made. She knew her life was on the line and she made the untenable commute via car to Springfield because she cared so deeply for the constituents of this state. I can think of no greater person to honor with a lifetime achievement award than someone who was willing to give their life to this job.


* The 2015 John Millner Lifetime Service Award for the Illinois Senate…

I have known of Sen. Dave Luechtefeld since the mid 60’s when he was coaching at a rival high school and got to know him much better when I moved back to the district he was appointed to represent. I recall the first time we had a chance to talk. It was probably very obvious to him that I did not accept some of his strongly held conservative principles yet before I left he made certain that I had his personal cell number and told me to use it any time. I have tried never to abuse that privilege, yet he always returns my calls, once even after 9 pm on a Sunday.

He was always accessible and willing to listen. He, on occasion vented some of his frustrations to me as I was doing with him. We could honestly disagree but we always shook hands and left as friends. He understood my concerns and my “hot button” issues, yet he was never disrespectful.

Sen Dave represented his constituents well. His demeanor, commitments and principles (even when we might disagree) will be missed in the next GA

* Today’s categories…

* Best State Agency Director

* Best Legislative Liaison

Don’t forget to explain your nominations please. Thanks!

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - compro - Monday, Dec 14, 15 @ 12:43 pm:

    Joann Fratianni, Chairman, Illinois Workers Compensation Commission. Has headed the agency for 10 months with no controversies, while everyone and their cousin has proposed changes to the Act. Hard to do with a constant spotlight on you.

  2. - Anonymous - Monday, Dec 14, 15 @ 12:49 pm:

    Shawn McGady at HFS. He has made a smooth transition into a difficult agency and is very responsive to members and staff on both sides of the aisle.

  3. - AlabamaShake - Monday, Dec 14, 15 @ 12:56 pm:

    Shawn McGrady is an excellent choice for liaison. He’s smart, well liked, and well respected. In an administration that seriously lacks institutional knowledge, McGrady is one of the few that has a good handle on how to do his job.

    Agency director? Oh boy… can’t really come up with one.

  4. - Doooode - Monday, Dec 14, 15 @ 1:00 pm:

    People sometimes forget the old adage in our field that “business is business” - nobody epitomizes this more than Richard Goldberg which is why I nominate him for best liaison. He is smart, savvy, irreverent, indefatigable, versatile and immensely skilled. Just ask Democrats (or Republicans for that matter) who have encountered him in a committee meeting or in small group discussion or on the floor - like him or not he has the confidence of the staff and the Gov and serves a useful function - something his detractors often misunderstood from the beginning. Madigan has Lou Lang - the Governor has Richard Goldberg.

    Business is business folks - or to quote the Godfather “it’s not personal Sonny it’s strictly business” or something like that.. Goldberg is a terrific person but he’s serious and effective in his work - that is why I nominate him for this award.

  5. - Not Again - Monday, Dec 14, 15 @ 1:01 pm:

    Connie Beard has handled Revenue issues and management issues in a skilled and professional way. She is a big upgrade for an agency that had wallowed for years under mismanagement and neglect.

    Shawn McG(r)ady at HFS knows his stuff, gets things done and is allows accessible which is a big benefit to an agency that has 24 hour problems.

  6. - Colin O'Scopey - Monday, Dec 14, 15 @ 1:03 pm:

    I nominate Rocco Claps for Best Agency Director. Not only has he served three governor’s with integrity and honesty, he provides a voice for those who are unable to speak up for themselves and a shield to protect those who cannot protect themselves. A good man if there ever was one.

  7. - Give Me A Break - Monday, Dec 14, 15 @ 1:09 pm:

    Liaison: Jenn Aring at DHS. She took on a monster agency with a legislative agenda to match. She knows her stuff inside and out and understands how DHS works.

  8. - Dawg Pound - Monday, Dec 14, 15 @ 1:11 pm:

    Goldberg. The man has taken Springfield by storm. He’s uber smart, full of good ideas and will never be out worked. Beyond that - where else can you find a story about someone with a state senator screaming at him, “I am the chairman!” And another calling him a “Grass Bowl.”

  9. - Anonymous - Monday, Dec 14, 15 @ 1:13 pm:

    Liaison - Richard Goldberg, hands down. Folks here love to hate him, but he is the best man for the job given the dynamics under the dome. He has the governor’s trust - a critical but often lacking attribute for legislative folks. He can get a deal done when the other side is willing (BDS, UI, FY15 Budget Fix) but is willing to go toe-to-toe when the Democrats want to play politics. Folks need to remember that the Democrats haven’t dealt with a real Republican governor in a generation and they want to act like they still have a pushover Democrat in the corner office.

    For agency director - Tim Nuding by a mile. He is the MVP of the administration and a pro’s pro.

  10. - A Real Capitol Fellow - Monday, Dec 14, 15 @ 1:16 pm:

    Connie Beard at Revenue has done a nice job this year. They’ve streamlined some of their processes in a way that’s made a big difference for someone like me who deals with the agency regularly. She’s even called me or some of my clients personally on occasion to help out with constituent issues. Kudos

    Not sure if this is supposed to go to an agency liaison or not, but Laura Roche is the Governor’s liaison with House members and is great. She’s had a tough job this year but she kept the GOP together and Is well liked and respected on the other side of the aisle too, despite any negative feelings towards her boss.

  11. - Downstate Mom - Monday, Dec 14, 15 @ 1:23 pm:

    Tim Nuding.
    He is affable, professional and all that anyone could wish for in a public servant. Anyone i have ever met that has had the pleasure to work with or for him will tell you that he is the best.
    He knows the issues, the budget, and listens sincerely to legislators, stakeholders, the agency directors, the Governor’s Office and his own staff. He isn’t afraid to defend his and his office’s work and a true leader. He’s handled everything from a disastrous budget and impossible timelines to working with a rolling change of staff and endless testifying before legislative committees with grace and aplomb.

  12. - Jordan - Monday, Dec 14, 15 @ 1:28 pm:

    For liaison, Abby Walsh, no question. She ran Senator Bill Brady’s office like a well-oiled machine. She was liaison at HFS and recently left for the Lottery. She is industrious, dedicated, and always knows what she is talking about. She is always helpful and can juggle multiple balls at the same time. NOBODY knows as much as her about the process and the characters involved given her length of time with the Illinois Senate.

  13. - That Guy - Monday, Dec 14, 15 @ 1:30 pm:

    Lisa Bonnett is one of the few Directors so well respected that she was held over from the previous administration. She is equally respected by environmental groups and industry.

    Jeff Scott has been a beast at DOI. The governor was smart to siphon away the top talent from JBT’s staff. Liaison is a tough job any day but even harder when there is no permanent director or chief legal council for most of the year. Even more impressive is that he works solo when the previous administration needed 3 people to do the same job.

  14. - out of touch - Monday, Dec 14, 15 @ 1:33 pm:

    Agency Director: I would agree with previous comments supporting Rocco Claps. He’s passionate about his work, commands respect from activists and legislators from both sides of the aisle.

    Liaison: Michael Lane from Department of Corrections has been a constant for over a decade (and several administrations). He’s often caught between the crossfire of inmate advocacy groups and “tough on crime” legislators, but always manages to stay above the fray. He’s smart, hard-working, and has become adept at giving legislators information that they need, versus telling them what they want to hear. A rare quality indeed.

  15. - Stella - Monday, Dec 14, 15 @ 1:37 pm:

    Best director: Nadine O’Leary, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, where her leadership role is putting things back on track. Before Nadine, ALPLM suffered under an egotistical reign that lacked direction, thoughtfulness and planning. She’s doing a great job with a great staff and ALPLM will benefit from her energy and outstanding personality!

  16. - Anonymous - Monday, Dec 14, 15 @ 1:53 pm:

    Democrat Representative Karen May once asked Shawn McGrady (House Republican Staff) to help explain her bill on the floor. McGrady was a respected bipartisan leader then and he continues to be today. HFS is lucky to have him. His only downfall is being a White Sox fan.

  17. - Rewind - Monday, Dec 14, 15 @ 1:58 pm:

    O’Leary for best Director, definitely. She inherited a mess and is turning it around. Everyone wishes they had put her in the job months earlier.

  18. - Spliff - Monday, Dec 14, 15 @ 1:58 pm:

    Director: Nadine O’Leary. She has been able to emerge from a partisan background as someone who has the best interest of the state at heart.

    Liaison: Michael Lane at DOC. Michael grew up in the agency and is now serving under his fourth administration. In an agency where you don’t want to know where the bodies are buried, he knows.

  19. - Anonymous - Monday, Dec 14, 15 @ 1:59 pm:

    George Sheldon of DCFS. George was given an huge task of fixing a broken agency. He has gained respect from both sides of the political spectrum and has put together a great team.

  20. - .com - Monday, Dec 14, 15 @ 2:03 pm:

    Best director: Nadine O’Leary, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum. Although she is Acting Director she has great enthusiasm and passion for the Museum and her staff. Since taking over you can notice a huge change in moral of the staff and goes over and above to promote the Museum.

  21. - Billinois - Monday, Dec 14, 15 @ 2:08 pm:

    Liaison- Shawn McGady deserves the award for his position as Chief Legislative Liaison at HFS. He has the impossible job of dealing with medical providers across the entire state who are not being paid during the impasse and does it with professionalism and grace. He knows legislators well from his time on House GOP staff and is respected for his honesty and work-ethic by all who know him.

    Agency Director- George Sheldon at DCFCS should get the award for taking on the incredible challenges of an agency that is in need of perhaps the greatest overall and he seems to be approaching the job with maximum effort.

  22. - Anonymous - Monday, Dec 14, 15 @ 2:11 pm:

    Agency Director-George Sheldon at DCFS he has a heck of a job on his hands and from what I understand is addressing several issues.

    Liaison-Chris Boyster also at DCFS. Chris is well liked by folks in both of the parties. Like the Director, he has a very challenging agency and has a way of handling things very well.

  23. - For what it's worth - Monday, Dec 14, 15 @ 2:13 pm:

    It’s been a long time since GOMB had a leader who knew the budget better than Madigan. No agency has come under more pressure and scrutiny than GOMB this year. While other directors like Jim Schultz, George Sheldon and Randy Blankenhorn and others are well positioned for major successes after this impasse ends, the hands down winner for this year of budget chaos must be Tim Nuding. He has not only re-established GOMB as a real agency, he’s made it the agency’s agency during a time of fiscal crisis.

    For liaison, I join the nominations for Goldberg. There are many solid liaisons throughout the government who merit recognition, but no one else defined this historic session like Goldberg. As Willy has noted many times, Goldberg has redefined the role into a heavyweight counterbalance to the Madigan playbook. No one has defeated the “wizard” on roll calls in years - and in less than a year Goldberg’s tactics have turned the myth of invincible wizard into something akin to Oz working a microphone behind a green curtain. Like him or hate him, everyone under the dome believed Madigan would crush Rauner within weeks of skirmish and Goldberg has been a major reason why that never happened.

  24. - NationalTreasure - Monday, Dec 14, 15 @ 2:14 pm:

    Shawn McGady at HFS is a terrific choice for best liaison. Shawn is a hard worker who knows his issues and Agency very well. Not to mention, he rocks a sweater and tie better than anyone in the Capitol.

  25. - Basic 20-Something - Monday, Dec 14, 15 @ 2:14 pm:

    Andrew Perkins at DCEO is a dynamite legislative liaison. He walked into the role about 10 months ago as the Department’s sole liaison and handled a demanding legislative session (P3…enough said). Andrew is just as respectful to legislative assistants and staff as he is to the legislators themselves, a trait that says a lot about a person’s character. He’s helpful, consistent, and puts in more office hours than most could imagine. Andrew is a liaison with merit, he can get the job done.

  26. - Roamin' Numeral - Monday, Dec 14, 15 @ 2:19 pm:

    Best Director: Nadine O’Leary from Abraham Lincoln Pres. Library and Museum. The library and museum are jewels attracting people from all over the world to visit and do research. Unfortunately, O’Leary’s predecessor tried to run them into the ground. Thankfully, she is righting the ship, and things are looking up again. Furthermore, Nadine’s relationships with the media have made the ALPLM into a community hub for many charity events like the recent Joy of Sharing event with Channel 20. She hasn’t been there long, but so far, she’s off to a great start.

  27. - The Duke - Monday, Dec 14, 15 @ 2:20 pm:

    I have to agree with Stella and .com
    Nadine O’Leary as acting director of the ALPLM is a breath of fresh air! With Nadine, it is not about promoting herself. She cares about the staff and about providing a great visitor experience.

  28. - Proud Employee - Monday, Dec 14, 15 @ 2:24 pm:

    James Joseph, Director, IEMA

    A genuine leader: decisive, engaging, and focused on the agency’s mission and its mandates.

    Director Joseph has made substantial positive changes to the agency since becoming our director.

  29. - Anonymous - Monday, Dec 14, 15 @ 2:29 pm:

    I would nominate Laura Roche and Bob Stefanski. Much like Batman and Robin, this dynamic duo has handled the House GOP caucus for the Governor like a couple of old pros. Working the House floor is no easy task and these two have handled the big lifts each time with a 99.9% success rate.

  30. - Santa's Little Helper - Monday, Dec 14, 15 @ 2:31 pm:

    The nomination for best liaison should be a team award this year. Goldberg is clearly the front man and leader but everyone knows he can’t do it alone. To his credit, Goldberg recruited a quiet team of true superstars and that team has restored Legislative Affairs to a feared and revered status not seen in years. From Jim Kaitschuk, Laura Roche, Tyler Clark and Bob Stefanski in the Governor’s Office to new folks like Shawn McGady, Jen Airing and Abby Walsh in the agencies to holdover liaisons like Boyster at DCFS, it’s the team and its cohesion that has brought Legislative Affairs back this year.

    For director, Tim Nuding. He’s a class act with the gravitas to lead. He helped broker the fy15 budget fix, owned the legislature every time he testified and will no doubt be the key ingredient in any final deal that ends the current impasse.

  31. - Joe McCarthy - Monday, Dec 14, 15 @ 2:40 pm:

    Director - Tim Nuding. Tim has got to be one of the most professional and knowledgeable folks under the dome. Few have his mastery of the budget and when he testifies in committee you can see the apprehension of members as they try to go toe-to-toe with him. To top it all off, you couldn’t ask for a better human being - good family guy and keeps it all in perspective. Genuine is the best word I can think to describe him.

    And for liaison, it has to be Goldberg. No matter how you look at the current impasse, Goldberg has fundamentally changed the landscape. Whip smart, loyal and leaves it all on the field. Don’t let the snark cloud your perception - his job is to mix things up and no one can say that he hasn’t done exactly that. Put that man in a hannukah-themed snow globe - he is shaking things up.

  32. - rac13 - Monday, Dec 14, 15 @ 2:47 pm:

    Nadine O’Leary - Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. She never lost focus in workinf hard to make the ALPLM a shining star during its darkest hours (which happened to coincide with its successful 10th anniversary year) and continues to lead the institution at its transition point. It would not be the same without her!

  33. - P MAN - Monday, Dec 14, 15 @ 2:51 pm:

    Shawn McGady is the Golden State Warriors of the liaison world. Even if it goes into double overtime, he will get it done!

  34. - Alex P. Keaton - Monday, Dec 14, 15 @ 2:52 pm:

    I’d like to nominate both the Director and Liaison over at IEPA. Lisa Bonnett is the best Agency Director out there. She was a hold over from the previous administration and no one outside of politics would be the wiser.

    Donovan Griffith is the head liaison over at IEPA and is extremely helpful, even when an issue is only on his periphery. Given his background on HGOP staff, he came in familiar with the lay of the land and with established relationships that he has been able to use effectively. While there are many liaisons that deserve mention, and some have by other commenters, Donovan deserves the Golden Horseshoe this year.

  35. - Anonymous - Monday, Dec 14, 15 @ 3:02 pm:

    Lisa Bonnet/ EPA
    Well respected by elected officials and the environment protection community. Has worked for a republican and democratic administration.

    Michael Lane/ Corrections
    Works well with both sides. Always accessible. Survived several administrations.

  36. - so... - Monday, Dec 14, 15 @ 3:07 pm:

    Director: George Sheldon - he took an extremely dysfunctional agency, that went through countless directors during the Quinn years, and has turned it around.

    Liaison: Goldberg - Whatever you may think of him personally, he’s racked up some significant victories for the Governor under very challenging conditions.

  37. - walker - Monday, Dec 14, 15 @ 3:15 pm:

    When all is said and done, who will help us work together and fix the state government?

    Tim Nuding

    Cannot think of a liaison who meets that standard.

  38. - Impasse - Monday, Dec 14, 15 @ 3:16 pm:

    Many deserving directors, George Sheldon and Jim Schultz to name two, but the work Tim Nuding has done is second-to-none. Tough for folks outside of government to appreciate his skill at navigating the impasse so far. No Democrats thought Rauner could last this long without a budget, and Nuding is the reason why - and he has them positioned to manage cash flow as long as necessary. Plus, Nuding has the respect of everyone under the dome. He is a master at committee hearings and no one dares to challenge him. You also can’t overlook his ability to get GOMB up and running after 12 years without a Republican administration.

    Goldberg has got to be the most formidable liaison in a long, long time. He is the most creative thinker in the Administration and is a major reason why Rauner also seems to be a step ahead of Madigan. Nuding represents the best of the old guard while Goldberg represents the changing of the old guard in the legislature - together they are why the governor keeps winning the daily battles most of the public never even sees.

  39. - Anonymous - Monday, Dec 14, 15 @ 3:18 pm:

    I agree with Santa. Goldberg should be given credit for putting together a very solid team. From old timers like Boyster (who is a fixture and is smart at the “game”) to new folks who bring fresh new outlook to state government.

  40. - Dirty Red - Monday, Dec 14, 15 @ 3:49 pm:

    For all of the reasons already posted and then some, I nominate Nadine O’Leary for the director award. She has kept the trains running and most of the staff from abandoning ship en masse despite the crazy that was the leadership at ALPLM and HPA. Thanks to her efforts the Library has even been able to expand its reach and offer new programs. Not bad, to say the least, when your bosses want you gone and never heard from again.

    For legislative liaison: Charlotte Flickinger at IHDA. I have counted on Charlotte’s advice since day one. I also make a point of introducing newcomers to her because she knows the game, the players, and has the patience to explain it to even the most naive inquirer. Charlotte has been an absolute professional even when those around her are anything but.

    Thanks to all who serve with integrity.

  41. - Local Flavor - Monday, Dec 14, 15 @ 3:56 pm:

    I’m a local Emergency Management professional with many years of commiited service. I think I can speak for the local EM community by nominating James Joseph for Agency Director.

    Since his tenure, less than a year, his communication skills with the local EM community has been refreshing to say the least. Already with multiple events under his belt and the leadership qualities demonstrated far surpass expectations. Thank you Director!

  42. - ILPundit - Monday, Dec 14, 15 @ 4:13 pm:

    I nominate Nadine O’Leary. She was literally called upon to right the ship after Gov. Rauner finally ended the long reign of the President (Amy Martin) and Mayor (Eileen Mackivich) of Crazytown. Her steady hand behind the scenes helped keep things together during the storm of the past 2 years, and she’s quickly calmed down and restored professionalism to the ALPLM. For the first time in years, the ALPLM is only in the news for good reasons, and she deserves a lot of the credit.

  43. - rac13 - Monday, Dec 14, 15 @ 4:42 pm:

    Nadine O’Leary - Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. She never lost focus in working hard to make the ALPLM a shining star during its darkest hours (which happened to coincide with its successful 10th anniversary year) and continues to lead the institution at its transition point. It would not be the same without her!

  44. - Another employee - Monday, Dec 14, 15 @ 4:59 pm:

    James Joseph - IEMA

    I agree with previous comments, which prompted me to respond. Director Joseph has been working hard everyday to understand our agency, and make smart changes along the way.

    I also recently learned that he relocated his family to Springfield for this job. Talk about sacrifice and dedication. James Joseph all the way.

  45. - Budget - Monday, Dec 14, 15 @ 6:51 pm:

    Tim Nuding for Director
    GOMB has not seen this type of leader for years. Tim is one of the most respected individuals around the state house, especially in these difficult budget times.

  46. - Original Rambler - Monday, Dec 14, 15 @ 9:10 pm:

    I’ve been impressed with George Sheldon, but hard to top Tim Nuding this year. I don’t understand the support for Nadine O’Leary since she’s been Director all of what, 8 weeks? Need to produce a body of work before the accolades are awarded.

  47. - Happy Hour - Monday, Dec 14, 15 @ 9:42 pm:

    Sure Goldberg gets the press, but Laura Roche in the Governor’s Office gets my vote. She’s super smart, cool personality and works both sides of the floor well. Rauner had some big wins in the House this session and Laura did some solid behind the scenes work.
    For Director it’s gotta be Nuding. He’s been the adult in the frat house and has basically held the state together with duct tape and some string. All around solid guy too.

  48. - 1776 - Monday, Dec 14, 15 @ 11:06 pm:

    Jeff Mays at IDES. Let’s face it - most directors have little to no authority to act and have few, if any accomplishments to show.

    Jeff is a seasoned veteran who was responsible for bringing business and labor together to reform the UI system. He did it professionally and in a bipartisan manner while protecting and enhancing IDES’ long-standing reputation as one of the best state agencies. His leadership on a highly technical and complex issue may be the single best achievement of the Rauner Adminstration in 2015.

    Tim Nuding is a close 2nd but Jeff deserves it this year.

  49. - shark bait - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 5:55 am:

    Best liaison has to be Tyler Clark. He works the Senate floor like a master chef and he’s been a big part of Team Rauner’s success.

  50. - Dark Knight - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 5:58 am:

    Liaison: Jim Kaitschuk. He’s the only one in that Rauner leg shop who has long-term experience dealing with members and staff. He’s well respected by both Democratic leadership staff and downstate members from both sides of the aisle. Like Nuding, he has some secret sauce to keep things rowing in the right direction.

  51. - Lincolnfan - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 7:54 am:

    Director Nadine O’Leary, ALPLM. No contest. Nadine inherited a pressure cooker, lifted the lid and let everyone breathe. She is providing steady, thoughtful, enthusiastic leadership. Nadine is respectful of each person’s expertise and creating a collaborative, team-oriented atmosphere. She puts the institution’s best interests first and is steering the Museum/Library out of the black hole created by the previous director. It is a big job and she is proving each day that she up for the challenge.

  52. - John 314 - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 7:57 am:

    I feel like this award has always gone to a true liaison and Goldberg’s splash this year makes it impossible to reward a hard working liaison that deserves recognition. Why not give the liaison award to a liaison nominated here and start a new award for future years named after Goldberg. Maybe the grassbowl award or something…

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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