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Crossing the line, Part 9,284

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Once again, the governor brazenly uses taxpayer dollars to promote his re-election campaign.

Each of the state’s roughly 2,700 pharmacies would be required to post a sign with Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s name on it that details what options customers have in buying contraceptives under a proposal the governor announced Monday.

Blagojevich’s plan comes during an election year in which he is pushing health-care issues, and it follows a controversial order he put into place last year requiring pharmacies that sell contraceptives–including the morning-after pill–to dispense them without delay.

Blagojevich said this newest order, which would take effect around Labor Day, is aimed at pharmacists who have lied when telling women that contraceptives are not in stock. On Monday, the state agency that regulates pharmacies filed a formal complaint against one Downstate pharmacist, alleging that she tried to skirt the rule in January by telling a customer that the morning-after pill was not available when it was. […]

At a Monday news conference, Blagojevich presented a prototype of a sign that the state would like to see pharmacies post, which included the governor’s name at the bottom.

A spokesman for Republican Judy Baar Topinka, who will face Blagojevich in the November election, said Topinka agrees with Blagojevich’s concept. But spokesman David Loveday noted that the governor might be violating the spirit of ethics legislation intended to crack down on the use of taxpayer dollars for political purposes. “A sign with a number on it to call is one thing, but like everything he’s done, if the signs go up around Labor Day, that close to the election, that will raise a question about what the real purpose is,” Loveday said.

And before you say anything, yes, everybody does it, but this is the same guy who led the charge against using state funds to advertise incumbents.

UPDATE: And then there’s this.

State auditors are questioning nearly $500,000 paid to advertising agencies retained by the state to inform motorists about the Dan Ryan Expressway reconstruction project that starts Friday, according to documents obtained by the Tribune.

The audit documents, obtained through sources at the Illinois Department of Transportation, say little or no documentation backs up thousands of dollars in taxpayer money paid by IDOT to politically connected ad firms to sponsor events such as the Bud Billiken Day Parade and Today’s Black Women Expo. The auditors questioned how those events helped educate drivers on how to steer clear of the massive $600 million highway project.

Taxpayers also paid $25,000 as reimbursement for sweat suits, polo shirts, T-shirts, pens, bracelets and key chains with no documentation that the items were ever purchased, the audit documents said.

Another $150 covered the costs for an ad agency official to attend a dinner honoring Robin Black, who had been IDOT’s chief of staff. Black, who resigned in December, signed off on many of the payments in question, auditors noted.

The public also paid former state Rep. Charles Morrow (D-Chicago) $23,566 in questionable reimbursements for insurance premiums and alleged overbillings for work at an advertising agency, auditors said.

posted by Rich Miller
Tuesday, Mar 28, 06 @ 8:06 am


  1. Nothing new about this for the Virility King. He is using the many, many AllKids handouts, letters, flyers and mailers to send his name around the state and most of it was printed right before the primary.
    The online AllKids website, the last time I looked, had his name there 37 times. He’s disgusting.

    Comment by Ex-Newfie Tuesday, Mar 28, 06 @ 8:12 am

  2. If so who will do anything about it?Madigan?I don’t think so her Daddy has got her like a mean dog with a short lease and a muzzle on.

    Comment by DOWNSTATE Tuesday, Mar 28, 06 @ 8:40 am

  3. why stop at a sign by the counter…..why not a sticker on every bottle? Perhaps a nice insert to fold in with the HIPAA paperwork that comes with it. Perhaps Walgreens and CVS could be compelled to turn over to the governor their customer database, so the Gov can send a nice letter to everyone as well.

    You’re right, Rich: Everyone does it. Everyone speeds, too. But some of us try and keep it under 100mph.

    Comment by grand old partisan Tuesday, Mar 28, 06 @ 8:40 am

  4. Here’s my take:

    Comment by Backyard Conservative Tuesday, Mar 28, 06 @ 8:42 am

  5. the first thing i noticed when i moved up here (2000) was how many times i’d come across ryan’s name in credit-taking. now i feel almost immune to it.

    except for the signs on the tri-state. blagojevich has his name up, taking credit for open road tolling, even at the toll sites still under construction (and invariably backed up)! i can’t be the only one who curses the governor’s name every time i am stopped on the tri-state.

    so this cuts both ways. credit-taking can become blame-taking, an unintended consequence…

    Comment by bored now Tuesday, Mar 28, 06 @ 8:51 am

  6. Blame-taking….are you kidding me, bored? Anytime an agency or department - heck, even one of the Governor’s very own comissions - does something unethical/controversial/just plain dumb, it’s “I had no idea,” or, “It’s an independant agency.”

    This is Illinois - where everyone is guilty so no one is to blame.

    Home sweet home.

    Comment by grand old partisan Tuesday, Mar 28, 06 @ 9:14 am

  7. I want to hear the outrage about this money.
    Tm Martin has not been confirmed again and why should he? Somebody could have got a piece of road done with this money, can you say pay to play ?

    Comment by Aunt Ruthy Tuesday, Mar 28, 06 @ 5:04 pm

  8. The handouts to the friendly ad agencies is an example of why Ms. Black wasn’t much loved by the longtime employees at IDOT. She was viewed by many as an amateur who had no idea what the true mission of the agency was supposed to be. She is just another one of many of the kids who came to work for Blago who acted like 5 year olds turned loose in a candy story.

    Comment by stoney Tuesday, Mar 28, 06 @ 5:26 pm

  9. I wonder why the newspaper article didn’t mention that Robin Black’s husband works for Emil Jones. The contracts audited are just a few of the many that are “questionable.” The Auditor General needs to look a little deeper. What a waste of my tax dollars. What’s up with the promotional items at IDOT? I can’t believe IDOT would even put this trinket allowance in a contract - $25,000 - are they crazy. I would be interested in knowing how much our tax dollars have been spent on trinkets to give away. Pathetic. Tim Martin and Robin Black were “glued” together. Tim Martin is as dirty as Robin Black and should not be confirmed.

    Comment by Swami Tuesday, Mar 28, 06 @ 6:07 pm

  10. Robin Black has been gone for 3 months and the Auditors have been checking things out and have at least one more NEGATIVE audit to issue. Tim Martin allows the pay to play contracts/subcontracts to continue - he should be booted out the door!

    Comment by Cat Tuesday, Mar 28, 06 @ 8:23 pm

  11. At this point, I’d say Robin Black has more of a chance of going to jail than GRyan. And will people topple the tollway signs, ala the toppling of Saddam’s statue in Baghdad, if the guv is not re-elected?

    Comment by Six Degrees of Separation Tuesday, Mar 28, 06 @ 9:54 pm

  12. The Trib web-site posted an update to their article on the IDOT audit. Holland is forwarding the audit information to the feds!

    Say goodbye Tim!

    Comment by Cat Tuesday, Mar 28, 06 @ 10:14 pm

  13. As far as using taxpayer dollars to finance a campaign, isn’t it great that the gov is enlightening us to a new way of doing business? When elections are publicly funded, it reduces the probability of being beholden to special interests and widens the potential field of candidates.

    Comment by Six Degrees of Separation Wednesday, Mar 29, 06 @ 1:13 am

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