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Governor pressed on state agency media cooperation

Monday, Apr 15, 2019

* NPR Illinois

Speaking before more than a hundred journalists at the Illinois News Broadcasters Association’s annual spring conference in Normal, Pritzker said he’s committed to helping Illinois media tell the stories that matter.

Pritzker said mutual respect between journalists and elected officials is critical in the era of “fake news.”

“If we want our democracy to thrive, we must have a first amendment that thrives,” Pritzker said. “Those with political power must be extremely careful that when we disagree with what’s being said, we nevertheless fight for your right to get the information out.”

Illinois Public Media reporters questioned Pritzker about the lack of cooperation from some state departments, namely the Illinois Department of Corrections and Department of Healthcare and Family Services.

Apparently, some reporters at WILL have been working on stories about education in prisons and mental health care for children, but haven’t been getting cooperation from the directors.

* More

“Now more than ever it’s important that elected office holders remind the public how important journalism is in a healthy democracy,” he said.

Pritzker drew applause from the conference room full of journalists representing news organizations from across the state, and later he invited them to ask questions, calling it “the biggest press conference I ever had.”

The questions posed included a call for more transparency and access to state departments and agencies, to which Pritzker asked for “one more minute, so to speak” as his administration works through the process of bringing in new people and making adjustments.

* More

Pritzker said he’s still hiring new staff after the Rauner administration — and that he’ll step in when government officials are unresponsive.

That time to “step in” may be now.

Pritzker has been in office three full months. He doesn’t yet have his own Corrections director. Rauner appointed an IDOC Director in March of 2015, but the guy resigned two months later and the department didn’t have a full-time director until August.

Pritzker appointed his DHS Director over three months ago.

[This post has been updated to reflect a correction in the NPR Illinois story above.]

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - wordslinger - Monday, Apr 15, 19 @ 10:51 am:

    –Apparently, some reporters at WILL have been working on stories about education in prisons and mental health care for children, but haven’t been getting cooperation from the directors.–

    When I was a kid reporter, I was taught if you didn’t get reasonable cooperation from press staff or directors, go to the chief of staff and inform that you were going to run a story anyway, with the “administration refuses to answer questions” in the lede.

    That’s not a good look, for any administration.

  2. - Iggy - Monday, Apr 15, 19 @ 10:52 am:

    Does DOC have an acting director right now? what happened to Baldwin?

  3. - El Conquistador - Monday, Apr 15, 19 @ 11:00 am:

    Sheesh. The time to replace Raunerites was yesterday…

  4. - Centennial - Monday, Apr 15, 19 @ 11:08 am:

    I can’t understand for the life of me how and why so many Raunerites are still in Rutan exempt positions. It’s mid April. You called him a failed Governor (which he was) but a large number of his people seem to still be running state government. I don’t get it.

  5. - Cubs in '16 - Monday, Apr 15, 19 @ 11:09 am:

    That’s good advice the young wordslinger received. State agencies may not always like to provide information but they dislike not being able to control the information that comes out even more.

  6. - Anon E Moose - Monday, Apr 15, 19 @ 11:12 am:

    Maybe no one wants the IDOC Director job?

  7. - The Big Salad - Monday, Apr 15, 19 @ 11:16 am:

    Three months on the job, and had the election more or less in the bag for 6-12 months prior to that.

    Pritzker and his team sure love asking for a few more minutes. First it was the Oof Things Are Worse Than We Thought report meant to buy time until constitution amendment/re-elect. Now this.

    Perhaps it’s time for journos to press a bit harder than polite requests for transparency in between rounds of applause.

  8. - Just Me 2 - Monday, Apr 15, 19 @ 11:17 am:

    It’s been over six months since J.B. was elected. He’s now basically 1/8th of the way through his first term. He should be fully staffed by now.

  9. - Give Me A Break - Monday, Apr 15, 19 @ 11:26 am:

    There are a whole lot of Rauner people left in the agency legislative offices.

    Why in the world would a new governor leave those people in positions that require them to work the gov’s legislative agenda and be the gov’s voice to lawmakers.

    Do the Pritzker not understand those Rauner legislative people were walking and knocking on doors trying to defeat Pritke?

  10. - Iggy - Monday, Apr 15, 19 @ 11:30 am:

    =I can’t understand for the life of me how and why so many Raunerites are still in Rutan exempt positions.=

    1. Institutional knowledge is important. When you keep turning over people at agencies you are left with a bunch of people who don’t know how things work.
    2. Democrats have every constitutional office plus tons of district staff, plus plenty of JB money to go around on the campaign side, so there might not be a demand for employment.
    3. A lot of JB campaign staff probably hitched their wagons to Dem. presidential campaigns already.
    4. Democrats hatred for Bruce Rauner caused them to push a law effectively ending off shoring. Thus making it hard to hide staffers and their salaries. Anyone JB hires is under a microscope.
    5. Springfield is a boring town, hard to convince young progressives to abandon city life to work an agency job in nowheresville Illinois.

    I could keep going, but I think JB’s strategy of letting directors stay and who goes is an excellent way to govern, and hopefully becomes the new normal in state government.

  11. - Huh? - Monday, Apr 15, 19 @ 11:30 am:

    One of the parting gifts of 1.4% was to make a bunch of people protected who had previously been rutan exempt.

  12. - New Slang - Monday, Apr 15, 19 @ 11:50 am:

    Hey there Huh?… you ain’t just whistling Dixie there. And those now protected folks are still in an “acting” capacity of their old exec positions. Yep yep.

  13. - Merica - Monday, Apr 15, 19 @ 11:55 am:

    Huh? Hits the nail on the head. In 2015 Rauner vis-a-vis Joe Hartzler, was implementing a plan to change code covered postions to exempt, with the idea that code covered postions were always the problem, because a new governor is stuck with prior hires. Then, after Rauner knew he was going to lose,he reveresed this strategy and began making exempt positions code covered protecting the people he hired. JB and his team are just letting it happen. One side effect of this will be the further weakening of the Executive branch.

    Instead of JB’s agenda controlling hiring, it’s the personal agenda of mid-level administrators who control the hiring now. There is no such thing as merit hiring. People are hired because Gov office says so, or because some PSA or SPSA wants to work with his/her friend.

  14. - DougChicago - Monday, Apr 15, 19 @ 12:16 pm:

    He should dump all the Rauner people he is legally entitled to dump. And do it pronto. Having holdover press people is especially preposterous. They are not to be trusted — either they were lying about their loyalties when they were hired by Rauner or they are lying now.

  15. - Phenomynous - Monday, Apr 15, 19 @ 1:06 pm:

    Rauner holdovers aren’t the problem here folks. Man, the ability of people to divert and deflect blame here is really impressive.

  16. - Fixer - Monday, Apr 15, 19 @ 1:12 pm:

    Rich, I think you mean HFS director. DHS just got their acting director last month.

  17. - Sonny - Monday, Apr 15, 19 @ 1:42 pm:

    4. Democrats hatred for Bruce Rauner caused them to push a law effectively ending off shoring. Thus making it hard to hide staffers and their salaries. Anyone JB hires is under a microscope.

    That one is popular with the JB excuse crew. Give me a break.

    If he was worried about a microscope those concerns should have been dispelled when folks barely blinked when he doubled the salaries for a gang load of people who had yet to accomplish anything.

  18. - JacksonvilleIllini - Monday, Apr 15, 19 @ 2:43 pm:

    So far this administration gets an F. Rauners people are still in and undermining JB on a daily basis. To top it off his support is dwindling quickly with his base due to Rauners admin still causing havoc. They should have had the wheels turning a while ago, now it seems the wheels are going in the wrong direction. The people voted overwhelmingly for a change, still stuck with Rauners people.

  19. - wordslinger - Monday, Apr 15, 19 @ 3:02 pm:

    –If he was worried about a microscope those concerns should have been dispelled when folks barely blinked when he doubled the salaries for a gang load of people who had yet to accomplish anything.–

    On Planet Earth, that actually got a lot of coverage and many were quite critical.

    Here’s taste.

  20. - Centennial - Monday, Apr 15, 19 @ 4:38 pm:

    Iggy, I get that governing is hard. No need to list the reasons why. JB wanted the job and he got it. It’s been 4 months. Raunerites should not still be in policy making positions. Hard stop.

  21. - Old hires - Monday, Apr 15, 19 @ 5:16 pm:

    Keeping CIO’s from DHS/HFS/DCFS etc. And then complaining about failed IT systems/projects is beyond dumb. Anyone with institutional knowledge can apply for a regular position because that’s what those are for. Enough is enough.

  22. - Sonny - Monday, Apr 15, 19 @ 7:47 pm:

    Wordslinger that’s hilarious you think the Cap fax comments section is Planet Earth. Great place to stay grounded.

  23. - Anonymous - Monday, Apr 15, 19 @ 9:08 pm:

    Pass some jobs out J.B. be loyal to your own people who helped you

  24. - Iggy - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 8:52 am:

    hard stop lol. if we are 4 months in, I don’t see a hard stop coming anytime soon. Also, I am seeing some absurd claims that Rauner’s people are working against the system, please provide some real examples. You don’t get to just make up facts. You aren’t even providing anecdotal evidence. do better.

  25. - Centenial - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 9:17 am:

    Rauners folks are still in policy making positions. JB campaigned on Rauner being a failed governor, but yet as has chosen to keep those people running our state. I voted for him to “be in charge” and removing the opposition party whose terrible policies caused real harm to our state. That’s the only
    anecdote I need to know, honestly. And frankly it’s not funny.

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