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Ted E. Leverenz

Thursday, Apr 9, 2020

* Ted E. Leverenz was once chairman of the Illinois House’s only appropriations committee. There are now six approp committees.

Ted had amazing sources throughout state government, which he then used to his advantage when pressing agency directors about their shortcomings as administrators. He often jokingly referred to himself as “Agent 99,” a reference to a female spy on the old Get Smart TV show.

Ted was enormously helpful to me when I first started out. He knew so much and he was such an entertaining fellow, particularly when he was relentlessly grilling those aforementioned agency directors. Ted, then-Sen. Judy Baar Topinka and a few others helped a nobody who nobody sent figure out how the government really worked. I will be forever grateful to them.

Ted eventually moved to the Senate via appointment. He was never happy there. He lost all his seniority and complained about how everyone in the chamber was so old. “Their parking places are wider,” he said. “You know why? So they can get their walkers out of their cars!”

* From a Facebook post by his daughter Tracy

My dad Ted E. Leverenz fought the good fight! Today Jesus carried him home to paradise! April 8, 2020@3:30 pm. Loving husband, father, grandpa and great-grandpa! Heaven is celebrating with joy his homecoming and “Never Had A Bad Day” has a whole new meaning! He was a kind, caring, public servant, who worked tirelessly for the community in numerous ways. He stared in his role as Representative Leverenz then a Senator Leverenz. Politics and helping others were forever running through his veins.

Ted and Rep. Chris Welch never got along well, but when I asked him about Leverenz’s passing today, Welch said, “He never supported me in any election, but there’s a lot of people in my district who revere the guy to this day.”

I think Ted would’ve appreciated that response. /s

* He sure was a handsome devil back in the day…

…Adding… More…


- Posted by Rich Miller        

23 Comments
  1. - Back to the Future - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 2:35 pm:

    He really understood the budget process and how dramatic changes in state budgets could effect people’s “everyday” lives.
    He also had a good sense of humor.


  2. - Give Me A Break - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 2:35 pm:

    When I was a legislative director at a state agency Ted once called me to get something done for a person in his district. After we got it done, he called back so say thanks. He added, “don’t be asking for a raise now”. LOL

    RIP Ted


  3. - Anyone Remember - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 2:45 pm:

    Favorite Leverenz story. He was late to a Spring Appropriations hearing, the topic being current year supplementals / legislative transfers. One agency with a transfer was ISP; Zagel was Director. Charing the meeting to order, Levernz told all he was late, having been stopped by a State Trooper (Zagel is dying a thousand deaths at this point). Using his ability to tell a story, Leverenz stated he had a “regular” license plate on the back, the Trooper didn’t recognize Leverenz until he saw the license, he walked to the front, and saw the State Representative license plate. Walking back, Trooper mentions to Leverenz he has a two different plates on his vehicle, to which Leverenz replies “So does my other car.” The Trooper says “Is my pension safe?” and Leverenz replies “Yes, Trooper, your pension is safe.” Everyone in Room 114 laughs, although Zagel looked like he wanted to sink into the Capitol Basement. Leverenz let ISP go with no questions.


  4. - Wylie Coyote - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 2:46 pm:

    Teddy. A true friend. I’ll miss the phone calls.


  5. - South of 64 - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 2:46 pm:

    I worked with him and he was a great guy. I am sure he and Clyde Choate, great friends, are telling each other stories and having a great time reuniting


  6. - Norseman - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 3:01 pm:

    Ted was one of those legislators you always approached carefully. Done improperly, he’d snap your head off. I was able to develop a good working relationship with him and he became a legislator I respected. My condolences to his family. RIP Ted.


  7. - Lt Guv - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 3:05 pm:

    Now?


  8. - Huh? - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 3:22 pm:

    Genuinely asking for clarification: Am I missing some context or does that Rep. Welch quote seem wildly inappropriate right after Ted’s passing? Even if they did dislike each other that’s pretty cold.


  9. - ChattyHam - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 3:26 pm:

    Ted and John Prine were both from Maywood.


  10. - Frank Mautino - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 3:49 pm:

    Ted was a truly unique individual, a good man and a trusted and loyal friend. He was my late father‘s roommate and one of his best friends. When I arrived home on the night that I was sworn into the House of Representatives the phone rang at 11PM and it was Ted. “ If you’re going to do this you’re going to do it right, I will call you tomorrow at three.“ He called every day at three for a month and solved all of the problems that remained on my father‘s desk. I took notes on index cards of the people in the agencies that helped. At his direction I went to Springfield for one week and did nothing but have coffee and meet every name on every index card that had helped solve the problems. A few weeks later at the veto session in 1991 Ted introduced me to the members of both parties in the house and senate by saying “ This is my son take good care of him.“ When he finished he turned to me and said “Now you don’t need me anymore.” But in truth I did, I do, and always will. I am eternally grateful for having you as a mentor and so rest well my friend and thank you to your family for sharing you with all of us.


  11. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 3:51 pm:

    ===seem wildly inappropriate===

    Oh, take a breath already. Ted could dish it with the best of ‘em.


  12. - Hack in the Back - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 4:05 pm:

    Now?
    Lt Guv beat me to it.


  13. - LTSW - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 4:16 pm:

    Ted Leverenz was the Chairman of the Legislative Audit Commission when I started my state career at the OAG. They would let us green new auditors go to the Commission hearings for experience but we thought of it as entertainment. Rep Leverenz could grill agency directors better than anyone.


  14. - Huh? - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 4:17 pm:

    Ahh the addition of the tweet definitely clears it up, from the original quote I didn’t realize it was a friendly barb with respect at the heart of it.

    That’s why I tried to ask in a way that wasn’t blowing it out of proportion.


  15. - Kirk Dillard - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 5:03 pm:

    Agent 99 was one of the true characters in state government. I always enjoyed working with him and he was ”generally” helpful to Gov. Thompson throughout the years when I worked for Big Jim. When I was a state senator from the western suburbs he would call from time to time……mostly with solid advise. I had the pleasure of seeing him recently at a Metra groundbreaking for a new station in his beloved Maywood. Ted truly loved the State of Illinois and while eccentric, he cared! May he RIP.


  16. - Laurence Msall - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 6:24 pm:

    Ted Leverenz was the legislative and State Appropriations Crowned Prince of the Illinois House when I showed up as the end of the bench gopher and agency staffer in 1984. Ted was admired by us because he was powerful and yet he seemed to take more time to explain things to young staffers. The only thing more intimidating then his House Appropriations hearings were the required multi-page questionnaire of agency programs and personnel detail that he and Senate Aprop Chair Howie Carroll required before you were even able to ask about a possible hearing date. Failure to provide sufficient detail to their questions risked not only missing an appropriation hearing but potential loss of your entire Agency budget.
    Ted not only knew how to move legislation, but also how to move government and have a raucous time stirring up the trouble necessary to move the people on both sides of the aisle.
    The honorable Ted Leverenz also cared fiercely for his family, friends, and constituents.

    Goodbye Agent 99!
    Illinois already misses you.

    Laurence Msall


  17. - Madame Defarge - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 6:45 pm:

    Agent 99 only 2-3 folks will underatnd


  18. - Kevin Schoeben - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 7:50 pm:

    My first experience experience with Chairman Leverenz when I was an intern terrified sitting next to one of the most powerful House members in committee when IDOT had their budget up. When he noticed that half the room present were IDOT employees he asked them all to stand up while the Secretary was presenting, “You’re all here for your boss with a total salary of over half million dollars, who is running the freaking agency?” Lesson learned. He was a good representative who sat next to my mentor Dick Mulcahey and the late Dick Mautino. A powerful trio back in their day, late 80s. God Speed Mr. Chairman.


  19. - Anyone Remember - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 8:04 pm:

    Madame Defarge -
    Leverenz was so good his sources penetrated The Cone of Silence …


  20. - Bob Kustra - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 8:11 pm:

    Ted was a great guy who did his homework and added value to the legislative process, especially the appropriations process. He knew state government like the back of his hand and didn’t suffer fools.
    We need more like him today in these hyper-partisan days. His family should know he earned the respect of his colleagues. RIP, Ted.


  21. - Maywood Friend - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 9:59 pm:

    Maywood and the surrounding communities could not have had a better-elected official and representative than Ted E. Leverenz. Ted was a committed public servant who genuinely cared about others. He dedicated his life and career to helping the many people in our community, especially the less fortunate. He used his office and position to get state and local government to work for the people of his district. I recall countless times watching Ted personally picking up the telephone in his legislative office to answer constituents questions and to help them with their problems, even when other staff was available. Ted will always be remembered for his practical knowledge of how government works, as well as his ability to pick up the phone and make things happen for the community.

    On a personal note, Ted was truly a great friend. He always treated me like family. I will always consider him like an adopted father. As a young man growing up in his west suburban organization, he taught me countless life skills. Many of those skills helped me to succeed individually and professionally. Without his friendship, mentoring and assistance, I would not be where I am today.
    My heart aches for Ted’s wife, Kathy, his children, Tracy and Kevin, and his grandchildren. Our community lost a dear friend and leader this week. May he rest in peace.
    Yes, Agent 99 “Never Had A Bad Day”


  22. - Jim Nelson - Friday, Apr 10, 20 @ 8:28 am:

    My favorite TL story involved my days at the Dept. of Employment Security. In 1986 or so, DES director Sally Jackson treated the senior staff to a cubs game on a Friday afternoon 3:00 start.

    The following week, the night before our budget was to be debated on 3rd Reading, we got a call saying “Leverenz knows…”

    Knows what? “Leverenz knows that Sally used agency funds to take her staff to Wrigley Field, last Friday.”

    I called the director and asked how the tickets had been paid for - she replied, by personal check. I asked if we could get the cancelled check to SPI right away - she said she would overnight it with that new Federal Express thing.

    Next day, and this is when Legislative Liaisons were allowed on the House floor to help present agency legislation, including appropriations bills, I walked up to our bill sponsor, Rep. Jeff Mays and told him Ted might have an surprise, but not to worry.

    Sure enough, Jeff opens the bill. The speaker recognizes the Gentleman from Cook, Rep. Leverenz.

    Ted starts softly about the department had how far it had come since the “bad old days” of the Bureau of Employment Security, but…(long pause for effect)…he had a report of there being evidence that the director had improperly used federal funds, perhaps criminally, to take the top leaders of the department to A BASEBALL GAME! How dare she…yada yada yada.

    While Ted is going off, Jeff is beginning to sweat bullets. Is that true? Did Sally really take…(hey, I needed to have some fun, too)

    So, I pull out the check…tell Jeff…it’s true, Sally did take senior staff to the game, but what Ted doesn’t know is Sally paid for it with her own personal check. So, have some fun.

    Jeff calms down…Ted finishes. Now it’s Jeff’s turn.

    “Well representative, I would normally share your concern if federal dollars had been used, but I hold here in my hand the actual cancelled check made out to the Chicago Cubs Tickets and paid from the personal account of Director Jackson.

    Said, TL…”Nelson, you’re good. I have no further questions and I request an affirmative vote.”

    Ted Leverenz was a person I learned much from. He was certainly one of the characters that made the Illinois House a fun place to work.

    I’ll miss him.


  23. - Kevin T. Leverenz - Sunday, Apr 12, 20 @ 2:53 am:

    It is pleasing beyond words to hear how so many were impacted by my father’s work. In an effort to chronicle his life’s work (of which his time in the Illinois legislature comprised most of what he held most dear), I humbly request you share your best Ted Leverenz stories with us at email: LeverenzKT@gmail.com. Thank you, all, for being such an important part of his life.

    Kevin Leverenz, PhD


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* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* Pritzker thanks Dr. Ezike, extends financial protections, points to progress, says no more daily COVID-19 briefings - Calls Trump tweets "reprehensible" - "I want to send my condolences to the family of George Floyd, and also to every African American in this country" - Defends budget decisions - Credits Illinoisans for progress against virus - No bill signing ceremonies - Hopes testing progress continues - "It seems as if President Trump is withdrawing us from the rest of the world" - No out of state travel plans - Talks contact tracing - Asks Illinoisans to be careful during reopening - Will sign Medicare for undocumented seniors bill - Refuses to criticize Lightfoot for Trump comments - Talks about difficulties in securing testing locations - Dr. Ezike and Pritzker respond to question about what they've learned about themselves and leadership - "We're no longer in a stay at home order"
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* *** UPDATED x1 *** What in the heck is going on in Rockford?
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* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today’s edition
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