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Question of the day - Golden Horseshoe Awards

Tuesday, Dec 15, 2015

* There was a clear crowd favorite for the 2015 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best State Agency Director…

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.

* This next one is probably gonna create a bit of a stir, particularly since he runs the shop, but the 2015 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Legislative Liaison goes to Richard Goldberg for nominations like this one…

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.

Congrats to our winners!

* Moving right along…

* Best Contract Lobbyist

* Best In-House Lobbyist

As always, explain your nominations or they won’t count. Thanks!

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Commonsense in Illinois - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 10:32 am:

    Best In-House Lobbyist: Last year the award went deservedly to Robb Karr at IRMA. And as many had noted at the time, Robb was part of a dynamic team of business lobbyists that included Mark Denzler at the Illinois Manufacturers Association. This year, Denzler and all his efforts need the recognition he deserves. Mark is widely respected by both Democrats and Republicans as well as constitutional officers of both parties. He is an honest broker and always willing to seek solutions to the toughest issues confronting the state while remembering that he represents the manufacturing community. Mark’s expanse of knowledge is oft times underestimated by opponents, and just about everyone learns that he can be reasonable and cobble together well thought out compromises. As Greg Baise’s “Number 2,” I have never seen him unprepared for any meeting or negotiation. Moreover, I think many of his counterparts know of his compassion and willingness to help anyone in their time of need. To say Mark Denzler is good really doesn’t cover it. He is among the best I’ve seen in my 40-year career.

  2. - Waffle Fries - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 10:39 am:

    Best In-House: Emily Miller with Voices for Illinois Children. Emily has elevated the public debate about the impact the budget has on health and human services across Illinois. She’s frequently quoted on this blog and she lead efforts among colleagues to bring national media attention to Illinois’ budget issues at hearings both in Springfield and Chicago.

    She’s been a fearless advocate for social services, in a system that is often ripe with advocates that are scared to challenge leadership of all stripes.

  3. - low level - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 10:39 am:

    Tom Cullen for best contract lobbyist. Works hard and is always on top of what’s happening. More importantly, he remains a valued friend & mentor to the many who have worked with for him over the years.

    Indeed, there is a whole generation of now middle aged people connected with politics and government that can trace their roots to and learned their trade from Cullen and are all the better and more effective for having had the experience. A true professional and friend to many.

  4. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 10:40 am:

    Try to nominate in both categories, please. Thanks!

  5. - walker - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 10:43 am:

    Denzler, because he has helped push IMA right into the political spotlight this year, without losing credibility. He is, was, and will be a champion for Illinois, for our manufacturing sector, and treats all key players with appropriate respect. Even when you disagree on policy, you know he doesn’t mislead or overpromise.

  6. - AlabamaShake - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 10:44 am:

    Contract lobbyist: There isn’t a more respected contract lobbyist in the capitol than Dave Sullivan. He’s the best around. He’s pragmatic and bipartisan. He’s legitimately nice and helpful. And he takes on hard issues and clients — having FOP and Local 150 right now is a handful, and Sullivan does it with aplomb.

    In-house: Khadine Bennett - she could also be nominated as best do-gooder lobbyist, but Khadine is a rockstar lobbyist who just puts her head down and gets things done. She is a constant presence, and continually lobbies on difficult and controversial issues with great success. Plus, few of us can say we lobby on “behalf of the constitution.”

  7. - Annonin' - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 10:44 am:

    Good to see Capt Fax give everyone a laugh … goin’ with Goldberg is like puttin’ Cubs in the HOF with a career of losin’ records …lobbo has no budget, no bills and Dunkin’ as an ally and he gets a prize :)

    Now on to today
    Liz Brown is gettin’ better every year — big help on the body cam/police reform legislation — measure the SuperStars actually signed.
    In-House Let’s go with Eileen Mitchell who left ATT to help Rahm and probably could use some good news right now.

  8. - Not To Quibble - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 10:50 am:

    O’Leary, while she might be a fine person and great bureaucrat, is not the director of IHPA or anything else. She’s chief of staff.

    Again, no reflection on O’Leary here. She might be de facto director, might well have been, still is, the glue that keeps things going. But unless it says “director” on your business card…

    I’m flummoxed.

  9. - Not To Quibble - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 10:53 am:


    O’Leary is, in fact, acting director of ALPLM. But that’s not an agency. It’s part of an agency. Apologies.

    Again, no reflection on O’Leary. But the award is supposed to go to an agency director.

  10. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 10:54 am:

    ===Not To Quibble===

    Then don’t.

    Move along already. Sheesh.

  11. - Roamin' Numeral - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 10:55 am:

    ==She’s chief of staff.==

    Now, she’s acting director, therefore it counts:

  12. - Stella - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 10:56 am:

    Not to Quibble – you are behind the times and/or misinformed…O’Leary was appointed the acting Director of the ALPLM (not IHPA) on October 16, and she has been serving in that capacity, quite effectively, since that date. Irrespective of what is printed on any card, she’s doing the job very well.

  13. - Joe Bidenopolous - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 11:00 am:

    ===Indeed, there is a whole generation of now middle aged people connected with politics and government that can trace their roots to and learned their trade from Cullen===

    Tom barely cracks the definition of “middle age” himself, let alone all the people he mentored! Ok, maybe some of them.

    I second the nomination of Cullen. He’s been integral in most of the important debates of the last decade plus, his loyalty goes both ways - if you’re good working with or for him, he will always be there for you, he’s one of the best people on the planet and yet he somehow still outkicked his coverage by marrying a truly stupendous woman. Plus, his connection. Tom is the real superstar.

    In house. Here I have to second another - Emily Miller of Voices. She’s been an incredibly important voice (no pun) for a very vulnerable community and has carried herself as a warrior for a cause that needs exactly that - a warrior.

  14. - For what it's worth - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 11:06 am:

    Annonin’ - just as the Cardinals need to figure out why the long-time losing Cubs are suddenly better than them, you too must take this brief off-season to reflect on how Team Rauner has bested the former world champ at every turn. Even a team like the Cubs can recruit HOF players for a few seasons to go all the way. Don’t hate the players like Goldberg; hate the game.

  15. - Give Me A Break - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 11:08 am:

    In House: Emily Miller, period. She has shown a light on the impact of the budget mess on human services. You may not like what she has to say or how she says it, but you can’t deny she knows the facts.

    Contract: John Lowder, he knows how the sausage is made and knows who is running the equipment to make it.

  16. - LizPhairTax - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 11:13 am:

    Contract: Bruce Simon. Universally liked and respected. Runs the White Sox thing. Represents his clients well without making enemies and always willing to share information and offer help. One of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet and a policy heavyweight.

    In-House: Bryan McDaniel, CUB. I know there is a category for do-gooder but Bryan deserves consideration here. He’s like a gritty defender that lines up and takes brutal charge after brutal charge from opposing dunkers. Whatever the issue is, Bryan will be there, Bryan will get rolled by moneyed interests, and Bryan will step up to do it again the next time down the court.

  17. - City - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 11:14 am:

    Best in house goes to Jack Darin. Great job representing greens and keeping big bills from advancing. Not an easy task this year. For contract I’m impressed by Dave Sullivan representing the Chicago FOP. He handled their very complicated issues so well this session. Talk about a tough time to be with the cops and he stands up for them well.

  18. - Man with a plan - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 11:17 am:

    Contract lobbyist goes to Dave Sullivan. Sure, we can all get caught up in his friendly demeanor, almost constant smile in the face of challenges, and ability to find common ground with everyone, but let’s get serious here. Have you seen the guy’s hair? It’s flawless. I’d ask him where he gets his hair cut, but why would he tell anybody. Having a haircut like Dave Sullivan is like having an Abrams tank in the Civil War. Look out.

    In house, I go with Mark Denzler. There are plenty of good reasons to give it to him, but my reason for nominating him is for taking the position that holding up the budget over collective bargaining reform causes more harm than any reasonably expected benefits of said reforms. Spoke for a lot of business owners in saying it’s time to cut the quibbling and help our businesses. Guy’s got a pretty nice haircut too, to be fair.

  19. - West Wingers - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 11:22 am:

    Best Contract Lobbyist: When it comes to reliability, with either the information you need to receive and/or the information you want to send out, there is no one higher on the list than Mike Murphy. Mike’s plain-spoken, sincere, considerate demeanor, is part of a moral character that just might make you question your own motives before calling on him for help. But help is always what he’s willing to give, whenever he can and however he can. Timeliness, mixed in with methodical persistence, put him ahead of the pack of brass rail inhabitants any day.

    Best in-house: I second Rob Karr at IRMA–a man of his word, works both sides of the aisle, quiet but effective.

  20. - Springfield - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 11:24 am:

    Labor gets my vote for both. Mark Poulis from 150 is about as smart as they come. He can debate with anyone. He’s smart and effective. And 150s lobbyist Dave Sullivan is highly respected on both sides of the aisle because of his hard work and effort. And he throws a great party!

  21. - Commonsense in Illinois - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 11:24 am:

    Sorry Rich…forgot to nominate a contract lobbyist. Many of the nominations here are good ones. But I think most would agree that they have all learned at the knee or emulation of Mike McClain. Talk about a “In” In-house lobbyist, Mike ever-so-quietly moves the wheels of state government while treating everyone with dignity and respect. With the recent passing of Gerry Shea, I think Mike McClain moves into that top-five group of overall effective and respected lobbyists…if he wasn’t already there!

  22. - Commonsense in Illinois - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 11:26 am:

    You know, that should have said, Talk about an “In” contract lobbyist…

    Sorry folks.

  23. - Down the Middle - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 11:31 am:

    Contract: Bruce Simon has been a class act for years. And a big White Sox fan!

    In house: Denzler. Smart, works hard, has an uncanny ability to predict outcomes, works and plays well with both sides of the aisle. Ought to be put into the Hall of Fame with Karr.

  24. - Downstate Hack - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 11:59 am:

    In House Mark Denzler, Keeps IMA issues in play in difficult times.

    Contract lobbyist Jim Owen

  25. - Stella - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 12:13 pm:

    Best contractual lobbyist: Nancy Kimme is a talented professional who has years of government and political experience. She’s a loyal, dedicated, hard-working individual, and her word is golden.

  26. - rac13 - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 12:17 pm:

    Nancy Kimme. She is immensely respected by legislators on both sides of the aisle and has a proven track record to back that up. She has more knowledge of state government than anyone around.

  27. - Dawg Days - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 12:28 pm:

    Nancy Kimme for best contract lobbyist.

    It is a rarity to find someone with Nancy’s level of experience in both the political and governmental sides of the business who commands so much respect from both sides of the aisle - and not just from staff but elected officials. Her sphere of influence reaches out not just under the Dome but throughout Illinois and includes Washington DC insiders and electeds. Nancy’s knowledge of state government, professionalism, and likability are why people trust her to get the job done and a solid indicator as to why she has accumulated such a broad portfolio in just one year as a lobbyist.

  28. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 12:29 pm:

    Again, please nominate in both categories. Thanks.

  29. - Rollo Tamasi - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 12:38 pm:

    Dave Sullivan. Honest and his facts always check out. If I had to use one word to describe him it would be he’s a “Gentleman.”

  30. - nadia - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 1:01 pm:

    Contract Lobbyist - Neil Flynn, smart, well versed on his subject matter, a real professional. High on integrity. Never meet a nicer person who would help anyone (except maybe my next nominee).

    In House - Don Wood of the Illinois Rural Electric Cooperatives. Great guy, high integrity, always well prepared, great listener. Treats everyone he meets with nothing but total respect. Unfortunately he is retiring, the state house is losing a great guy. If we had more like him things would be a lot more pleasant at the Capitol.

  31. - Flurry - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 1:04 pm:

    In House: Matt Paprocki, Illinois Policy Action.

    In addition to shutting down the progressive tax, the millionaires tax and an extension of the 5 percent income tax rate, he moved a number of economic reform bills (e.g., crowdfunding) and across-the-aisle initiatives like criminal justice reform and Right to Try. Add in the fact that Lincolnshire just passed Right to Work, and you have a winner.

  32. - Billinois - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 1:12 pm:

    Contract: Bruce Simon should win the award for his honesty and integrity while protecting the interests of his clients in Springfield. Bruce is a policy wizard who also has deep connections on both sides of the aisle. Lastly, he treats staff with a great amount of respect, which really goes a long way in this business.

    In-House: Samir Tanna of Illinois Action for Children should get the award for his tireless efforts on behalf of Illinois Action for Children. Samir has been the point person on the roller-coaster ride that is the Child Care Assistance Program and has handled the issue with grace and poise. He is a valuable policy resource and deserves the recognition.

  33. - Fun - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 1:44 pm:

    In house best is Emily Miller. Her passion and dedication to the cause is exemplary. She is always ready to solve the problem. She is inspiring to all. Best Contract is Dave Sullivan but I’m nominating not for his hair or party but for the low key approach he takes on issues. This Session particularly was the controversial conversion therapy ban. Not only did the Gov sign this but both GOP leaders Durkin and Radogno voted for this Cassidy/Biss Bill. Outstanding bipartisan effort Dave is known for under the Dome.

  34. - Moderation - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 1:50 pm:

    I am a fan of Bob Myers. He leads the beer industry with vigor and enthusiasm. I also like Dave Sullivan. He not only has beer at his best party of the session but he does a great job on some hot topics in Springfield. They get my votes.

  35. - Overthinking - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 2:09 pm:

    Contract lobbyist: no question about it, Nancy Kimme is the best! Fair, informed, knowledgeable, dedicated, determined, and tenacious….the best advocate you can hire!

  36. - Roamin' Numeral - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 2:21 pm:

    Contract: Nancy Kimme. She’s one of the few people who actually has access to the governor. Also, she has great relationships in the legislature - on both sides of the aisle. Very professional and smart, Nancy can see all sides to an issue and always gets the job done.

    In-house: Emily Miller from Voices for Illinois Children. There’s been several days on this blog where she has owned the day. Clearly passionate about her cause, she always seems to get her point across.

  37. - Rewind - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 2:40 pm:

    Nancy Kimme is the contractual lobbyist you want to hire. She is smart, loyal, and knowledgeable, and she is respected on both sides of the aisle. Great role model for young women!

  38. - Jar Jar Stinks - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 2:43 pm:

    Nancy Kimme is a tremendous wealth of knowledge and widely respected in the halls of the Capitol and in Chicago as well. Always so much fun to see around

    I have to put in a vote for Jennifer Creasey having to put up with the plethora U of I scandals that have popped up I. The last year. Grace under fire.

  39. - Max's Mom - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 2:47 pm:

    Contract Lobbyist- Nancy Kimme is rock sold. She is one of the smartest, hardest working person I know. She is tough, honest and well respected on both sides. She brings her significant State experience to any lobbying task.
    In House Lobbyist- Emily Miller Voices for Illinois Children –a strong advocate for social services

  40. - Happy - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 2:50 pm:

    I think Rob Karr is a consummate professional. He is informed and hard working. Dave Sullivan also keeps getting many tasks accomplished so well and with a smile on his face which is greatly appreciated in this crazy life. Both are terrific truly family oriented people who are also highly successful. It’s great to see the good guys also have great succes in the odd world of Illinois politics.

  41. - Coach - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 3:03 pm:

    Contract lobbyist: Nancy Kimme. She is simply the best out there. Nancy has forgotten more about government and politics than most people will ever know. She knows how to get things accomplished and has built friendships and earned the trust of electeds and staff on both sides of the aisle and at all levels of government. As a result, she not only can counsel her clients on what needs to be done, but also connect them to the right people to make it happen. And she’s delightful to work with to boot.

    In-house lobbyist: Emily Miller. She has been tireless in advocating for her organization and other human service providers throughout the state. While others resort to talking points and sophomoric name calling, Emily stands apart by consistently providing thoughtful and intelligent commentary that provides insight into the very real consequences of the budget impasse.

  42. - Dupage Bard - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 3:14 pm:

    Contract Lobbyist- Dave Sullivan very deftly walks the halls of the Capitol. Incredibly gracious to all and works extremely well getting his votes together. Has some titans for clients and works their issues calmly and thoroughly. Find a legislator that hasn’t met him while getting his votes passed. Leaves nothing to chance. He crosses every T and dots every I.

    In house- Pat Devaney and crew over at the AFFI they continue to make their muscle felt, even with collective bargaining being thrown in their faces and their entire balance being bashed by the Governor. They also mobilize their membership with the best. They come crashing down through the halls in full uniform, a couple hundred strong, takes a strong legislator to say no to that.

  43. - State Worker Mentality - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 3:36 pm:

    Without a doubt, Nancy Kimme - extremely smart and never not working, always respected.

    Mark Denzler - likes to party

  44. - Twightlight Woods - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 3:55 pm:

    Contact - Nancy Kimme. Hands down one of the smartest and strongest people I have met. The knowledge that she possesses is unattainable for most.
    In House - Jim Reed. The IEA is lucky to have him.

  45. - Anonin' - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 4:00 pm:

    If all of Kimme’s Cousins are done we can thank Mr/Ms ForWhatItsWorth for confirming the assessment about the lack of a track record…exc

  46. - Producing - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 4:45 pm:

    So I read through all these nice comments. It’s great to see so many positive thoughts expressed. Then I thought about how to determine a winner-what was accomplished in 2015. So here are my votes: Emily Miller was never ceasing in her efforts to raise the alarm on the budget crisis and helped push a partial bipartisan solution. And Dave Sullivan pushed to successfully get conversion therapy banned and make sure the police reform bill was balanced…both with bipartisan help and success. They both produced for their clients big time.

  47. - Dirty Red - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 4:53 pm:

    Nancy Kimme lost sleep years ago over the problems the state will face in six months. Tonight she will lose sleep over the problems the state will face years from now. I used to wonder how far down the road she looks but I gave up when it dawned on me I couldn’t see that far even by squinting through binoculars. Her know-how cannot be matched, which allows her to think so far ahead into the future for her clients and state. Nancy knew Rauner was going to be Governor before anyone else knew to be suspicious of him. She’s that good.

    Was there been an in-house lobbyist quoted, both publicly and privately, with such credibility the way Emily Miller was? Not only did she have an answer, but she knew every little detail behind it. Voices has usually been a fiscal policy heavyweight, but Emily seemed to have taken them to another level with her quick, thoughtful, and comprehensive analysis. My hat is off to her.

  48. - walker - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 6:03 pm:

    Contract: Dave Sullivan. Honest, open, informative, knows exactly what is “doable” and how. Thinks like an effective legislator, and knows the dynamics of both caucuses. He’s so good, I assumed he’s won multiple times before, and wanted to give someone else a chance.

  49. - Mayor Quimby - Tuesday, Dec 15, 15 @ 7:46 pm:

    I would like to nominate Scott Humbard. Scott is a top-notch lobbyist for Exelon. He is open, up-front, and equivocally well-rounded. When you need his assistance or his knowledge, he is readily available. He, most importantly, is ready and willing to hear you out and work with you to make things work. If there is any goal for an in-house lobbyist, is it this. Also, it should go without mentioning, Humbard was a valued asset on the House Republican Staff–both during its tenure in the majority and minority.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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* Special Deal: You can learn the 3 languages of C & jumpstart your career
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* Under the Radar: Kyle Kubat
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* Mariners 3, White Sox 1: New half, same loss

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