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Rep. Ives explains why she closed her district office

Thursday, Sep 21, 2017

* Until yesterday when a buddy told me, I didn’t realize that Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) doesn’t have a legislative district office. So, I reached out to her today and she was kind enough to respond with a very reasonable and thorough explanation…

Rich,

In the four years that I had a District Office I had maybe 5 people cold call - just walk in to find me and most the time I wasn’t there. My assistant would take a message or help them if she could. My office became a place to store a bunch of government brochures paid for by taxpayers (with my name on them) that no one was really interested in and to meet primarily with other government officials to discuss policy. I did have some constituent meetings as well, but not an every day or even every month occasion as often times we handled problems over the phone.

So, I got rid of the office saving in my estimation $80,000 a year for taxpayers. We are allotted $69,000 to run our office - and I always returned some of the money each year, but if you had a full time staffer, the state picked up healthcare and pension costs on top of that allotment, easily approaching 80k.

I have a full time assistant in Springfield who now takes constituent calls for me (admittedly we are not a busy office), she books appointments for me, and handles any other work I need done. Also, each Republican Rep has a communication staffer (shared), access to policy staff on any question we have, and access to legal staff.

I meet with constituents now at my local library - similar to what other state reps with large geographical areas do when they have remote office hours - and I am posting my office hours today or tomorrow - I am just re-checking the dates on that now. I have met with constituents many times already this year with no problems.

Prior to getting rid of my office I had LRB give me a report on our state legislator compensation, including office allotment, compared to certain other states. No surprise, our benefits are very generous. I have attached that report to this email.

I thought during this budget crisis I should do my part. This was an easy cut to make - and if everyone did it I believe it would be over $14 million saved. As far as being available to constituents, I have hosted 5 open town halls this year and 2 more at retirement homes.

FYI - I also filed a bill to reign in the excessive stipend given to committee chairs and minority spokesperson. HB 1857. Also attached is a spreadsheet on how infrequently most of these committees meet - on average in 2016 - 4 times and some of them never. That is an average of over $2500/meeting - and many of them no action was taken. I have written op-eds about this too.

Call if you have questions.

Jeanne

The LRU study is here. The committee meeting report is here.

This obviously works fine for her district, but perhaps not in others. Your own thoughts?

Also, try to take a breath before you comment. Some of y’all really don’t like Rep. Ives, but she took the time to respond and I think she justified her decision well. She also hasn’t grandstanded about her decision. I’m only posting this because somebody told me about it and it’s unusual, so I was curious and asked her.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

53 Comments
  1. - Franklin Delano Bluth - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 12:58 pm:

    My God, strange start to the afternoon when I find myself admiring the decisions of Rep. Ives.

    Good on her if she doesn’t need it, at least in this instance she is practicing what she (so loudly) preaches.


  2. - Ducky LaMoore - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 12:59 pm:

    Seems reasonable. I honestly couldn’t tell you where my state rep’s office is. But it is really difficult not to leave a parting shot at her, so this will have to suffice ;)


  3. - Waffle Fries - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 1:02 pm:

    As long as there is a clear way/path where she is available to constituents….


  4. - The Captain - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 1:03 pm:

    Makes sense, good for her.


  5. - MrGrassroots - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 1:03 pm:

    I find this strange, very strange. My question is why aren’t constituents visiting her office. Do they have the number? Do they have the address? Is she not marketing herself as a place to become the intermediary between the constituent and government? My state legislators has a steady stream of traffic with lots questions and request for services. No questions about how she may have voted? I am grateful that I am not one of her constituents.


  6. - Anonymous - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 1:03 pm:

    With some exceptions, I would assume most of her colleagues would be in the same boat. She should be congratulated for this - as she implied, it was an easy layup - and others should follow in suit. This was very good info to have. Thanks


  7. - Cheryl44 - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 1:06 pm:

    Are there any districts where this wouldn’t work? I mean places w/o a public meeting space available like a public library. I think if this works for her, it should work for a lot of state reps.


  8. - taco bell breakfast - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 1:06 pm:

    Credit where credit is due. Not every legislator may be able to shut down their district office, but certainly more of our representatives could exercise the same level of commitment to reigning in unnecessary expenses. Tip o the hat to Rep. Ives on this one.


  9. - Give Me A Break - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 1:07 pm:

    Good for her. She explained it well and she seems to make the solution work.

    Not sure it would work for every district, but for once she put her (the taxpayers) money where her mouth is.


  10. - Texas Red - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 1:09 pm:

    Makes total sense, and if you know her district this will play well there.


  11. - Alex P. Keaton - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 1:11 pm:

    Legislative Research Unit- LRU**


  12. - Montrose - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 1:12 pm:

    Seems reasonable to me. It is the same logic as the electeds that do shared office space - the Shakowsky/Sufferdin/Gabel office in Evanston or Cassidy/Shakowsky/Steans office on Broadway.


  13. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 1:12 pm:

    She is certainly focused on the “part-time” aspect of being a part-time legislator.


  14. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 1:13 pm:

    To the Post,

    I whole heartedly applaud Rep. Ives.

    I’ve felt since 2002ish that a “virtual office” a website managed and run by a staff that can answer simplistic or searchable answers could do a large chunk of what a district office tries to do with bricks and mortar.

    For the difficult constituent services many, and respectfully I do mean many, handle in a professional and personal way, there could be some sort of “traveling office” type of service the members can try to coordinate with municipal of county offices, allowing a private area to meet and discuss these constituent cases.

    In Chicago, many times, the sharing of office space specific with Aldermen, county board members, and GA members is the natural fit. That probably is the most direct way for those constituents, and it helps the community too.

    Rep. Ives should be applauded for finding a way to serve her constituents and be a fiscal watchdog, as she sees best her contribution.

    I’m not sold its the lone way for each and every district’s needs, but if it can be implimented in any hybrid, that would be great for all involved too.

    Well done.


  15. - NeverPoliticallyCorrect - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 1:14 pm:

    This is very reasonable and should be the standard. I can’t see the reason why each legislator couldn’t use existing public facilities for meetings, or if they want a local office then let them pay for it with campaign funds.


  16. - walker - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 1:14 pm:

    One can have regularly scheduled meetings at the office with advisory groups for various subjects,(e.g. veterans, teachers, small business owners, not-for-profit leaders, etc), and regular meetings for constituents that you arrange, if you want to be more proactive than waiting for walk-ins.

    Of course, having a wide-spread district does make the library solution a good one, since it’s more convenient for the constituent.


  17. - Demoralized - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 1:15 pm:

    I think it’s fine. Based on what she said I would have closed the office too. I think it would be a good exercise for other legislators to engage in. It would be interesting to see the foot traffic in each legislator’s district office. Calls can be handled by staff in Springfield.

    I may not like her politics but you have to give credit where credit is due. This isn’t partisan. It’s smart management.


  18. - Dome Gnome - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 1:15 pm:

    But where does she store her coloring books?


  19. - Pot calling kettle - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 1:20 pm:

    It depends on what the Rep wants to do and what the district residents expect in terms of services. I had a state rep friend (downstate) whose office was always busy with calls and drop ins. The admin assistant and rep would help people with everything from organizations that needed permits for fundraisers to people needing help with DUIs or immigration to local towns needing funds for infrastructure. They helped constituents navigate federal, state, and local government stuff. I’m all for funding Reps and Senators who want to run that kind of office. It can be a real asset to the district. Rep Ives either doesn’t want to do that or her district doesn’t need it. It also fits with Ive’s political philosophy that the government should only offer minimal services; so, she’s consistent.


  20. - In 630 - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 1:22 pm:

    That’s…sensible.

    Huh. Stopped clock and all, I guess.


  21. - Dance Band on the Titanic - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 1:28 pm:

    Give Rep. Ives credit. She walks the talk.


  22. - Skeptic - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 1:28 pm:

    This is one instance where “Running government like a business” makes some sense. If customers aren’t coming to the store (and especially in this on-line connected wireless world we live in), why keep it open?


  23. - Michelle Flaherty - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 1:29 pm:

    C’mon everyone, give Rich a break. I took a deep breath and deleted my anti-Ives rant. You can, too. Do it for Amazon.


  24. - Fax Machine - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 1:32 pm:

    Where will her constituents go to get a 4 year old copy of the Illinois Blue Book?


  25. - Earnest - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 1:32 pm:

    Thank you Representative Ives for a very thoughtful response.

    She gave gave us great specifics and, though not grandstanding, gently related it to larger political issues around spending. Agree or disagree on whatever issue with whatever elected official in Illinois, it’s always great to see leadership by example and effort to make a good case rather than simply scoring political points.


  26. - Ravenswood Right Winger - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 1:32 pm:

    Thank you, State Rep. Ives, for saving the taxpayers some money.


  27. - honeybadger - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 1:33 pm:

    Ok, sorry Rich for my anti-Ives comment.

    Seriously, good for her, as someone has already said on here, at least she is walking the walk on this one.


  28. - JoanP - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 1:37 pm:

    Credit where its due. If the office isn’t being used, why keep it open? She did the right thing for her district.

    Obviously, this wouldn’t be appropriate everywhere, but it would behoove other legislators to do a similar analysis and act accordingly.


  29. - Langhorne - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 1:48 pm:

    So Ives is proud of the fact her constituents don’t even think to ask her assistance w bureaucracy–revenue, dcfs, dceo, etc? The big agencies average thousands of just legislator referrals per year. Jeanne, you just graded yourself F on constituent service.

    Ck printing unit rules on branding taxpayer funded printing w legislator name.


  30. - Winnin' - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 1:55 pm:

    Truly a part-time legislator. She should cut her salary too.


  31. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 1:55 pm:

    This isn’t directed at Rep. Ives.

    No snark, no joke.

    To be clear, I think it is important and critical in some districts, depending on location and state services, that an office must exist.

    Further, I’ve stated many times that the best members of the GA are those that can serve their constitutes, as a district or in the larger role as a member of Illinois’ legislative body. To do that, an office only aids those members and their own effectiveness as we’ve all seen through the years.

    I’m not anti-district office.

    I’m pro finding solutions best for the member, district, constituents and the state.

    There’s never a one size fits all way in governing. I wanted to clarify my thoughts and recognize the importance of that district office.


  32. - Michelle Flaherty - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 1:57 pm:

    Upon further review …
    Has anyone checked with Senator Connelly to see how his office is handling the increased demand for constituent services?


  33. - Anonymous - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 1:58 pm:

    The best district offices I see are places constituents can visit to talk to a staff person who can provide assistance with paper work and procedure for all types of public services-not just state. District offices can be a huge benefit especially to senior citizens.


  34. - Anonymous - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 2:09 pm:

    As a general rule, the Maytag repairman gets more traffic than most of these offices. (Anyone remember that commercial?)


  35. - Biscuit Head - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 2:14 pm:

    This seems like a good solution and perhaps it works for her constituents. If she utilizes the Library very much they’d probably appreciate a donation from her Campaign Account as a gesture of apprecation. $1000-$3000 could buy some more books.


  36. - You could say that, I couldn't - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 2:15 pm:

    I am not a fan of Ives, but she makes sense here. The problem would be if she makes the assumption that her solution applies to other places in Illinois. Ives represents a better off district where it is likely that constituents don’t need much help navigating state bureaucracy. So, yeah, this is reasonable. The moment one insists that a district in a poor neighborhood where a lot of residents are facing obstacles getting state aid should also eliminate district offices as a waste is when I would start criticizing.


  37. - Redbirds - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 2:29 pm:

    Rep. Phillips doesn’t have a district office either.


  38. - Access&Affordability - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 2:38 pm:

    Yeah… Rep. Phillips may have actually beat her to this (closing his district office) but maybe not. They are seatmates who are close ideologically so their shared thinking on this is not surprising, and not without merit.


  39. - wordslinger - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 2:38 pm:

    So where do you pick up the coloring books?

    –Makes total sense, and if you know her district this will play well there.–

    Let’s not get too self-righteous about Wheaton. Some decidedly unholy acts in the news from the college these days.


  40. - W Flag - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 2:46 pm:

    Decades ago, legislators were given boxes of stationery, envelopes and $300.00 worth of postage stamps.

    Good for Ives saving us a few dollars.

    The Illinois office benefits are often too generous and it is common practice for some pols to rent offices out of buildings that they own and pocket the money as rental income. Others double up with other elected officials and share space.


  41. - Lunchbox - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 3:25 pm:

    Way to save some money, Rep. Ives. As long as legislators stay available and reachable, I strongly suggest meeting at local libraries.


  42. - Southside Markie - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 3:33 pm:

    == I may not like her politics but you have to give credit where credit is due. This isn’t partisan. It’s smart management. ==

    Totally agree. Every district has some kind of meeting space. At the very least, there is usually a local coffee shop. If a member isn’t getting a lot of foot traffic, follow Rep. Ives lead.


  43. - Steve - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 3:42 pm:

    If this works for her fine! Plus, she’s saving taxpayers money.


  44. - MrGrassroots - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 4:02 pm:

    Agree with - Langhorne - Constituents services is an essential job of an elected official, in particular, a legislator. This is all part of this anti-tax schtick in which she has excelled. I don’t buy it. An excuse not to serve constituents. Ever tried calling a Springfield office when they are not in session? Nobody’s home.


  45. - Former IL Resident - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 4:06 pm:

    ===- Pot calling kettle - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 1:20 pm:

    It depends on what the Rep wants to do and what the district residents expect in terms of services. I had a state rep friend (downstate)===

    Based on your history here, I’m guessing Frank Mautino…


  46. - Langhorne - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 4:12 pm:

    The LRU used to publish a 200+ page constituent services guide. It explained the most common constituent inquiries and problems for every department. They also held a biennial training conference for district office staff. They were both well received.


  47. - Signal and Noise - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 4:20 pm:

    Welcome to Bizzaro World because I agree with Ives.

    As long as she returns calls and is present in the district she won’t have any problems, I mean beyond her insane positions.


  48. - Amalia - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 4:52 pm:

    there are districts where it would not work. there are also districts where officials could house together dividing up the costs. I think she presents fine reasons for why not to do it. so much else is going virtual, so much contact can be done that way. or pop up office.


  49. - JS Mill - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 5:06 pm:

    I can’t stand her politics but fair enough on her decision.


  50. - Not a Cookie Cutters - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 5:55 pm:

    District Offices have to relate to their district and what the Rep or Senator want to do. Some offices do a lot for the constituents and some do not. It also depends on the abilities of the District Director, Legislative Aid, Secretary etc. If they have someone that is very good in their position then they get more done and you get more people asking for help. Most people do not even realize the things the office can help you with. No district is cookie cutter.


  51. - Annonin' - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 8:53 pm:

    But it was ok to run office when single mom aka Proft troll needed a check. Wake up


  52. - DuPage - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 9:59 pm:

    I saw her one time, and found it a waste of time and effort. She is concerned with constituent’s concerns only as long as they agree with her own opinions. If your concerns are not lockstep with hers, she is not concerned. With her in office, she might as well close down, but it should not automatically apply to her replacement when she decides to step down.


  53. - Loop Lady - Friday, Sep 22, 17 @ 5:54 am:

    It’s nice that she refunded the money to run her office, but access to you local legislator when they’re not in Springfield is government that is accessible to your constituents…she also doesn’t have to be physically available to local press…in a word or two, no go…


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