Politics & Elections
Governor Quinn Announces Second Round of Top Administration Appointments PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Politics & Elections
Written by Andrew Mason   
Tuesday, 08 February 2011 10:19

Names Two Senior Advisors and Five Agency Heads to Continue Efforts to Boost Illinois’ Economic Recovery, Address State’s Fiscal Challenges

CHICAGO – February 7, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today named two senior members to his administration and re-appointed five members of his executive cabinet. Today’s actions are the second step in a series of appointments Governor Quinn will make over the first quarter of 2011 as he continues to fulfill his commitment to creating jobs, recovering our economy and making state government more efficient and accountable to the people of Illinois.

Today Governor Quinn named Cristal Thomas to serve as his Deputy Governor for Public Policy and Sean Vinck to serve as Chief Information Officer. Governor Quinn also re-appointed Secretary Brent Adams to the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, Director Arthur Bishop to the Department of Juvenile Justice, Director Dan Grant to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Director Michael McRaith to the Department of Insurance and Director Marc Miller to the Department of Natural Resources.

“Continuing our mission of recovering Illinois’ economy and addressing our budget challenges requires hard work by a team of dedicated and talented individuals,” said Governor Quinn. “These seven appointees have an ethic of service and I am confident that they will work collaboratively and creatively to address our problems and move Illinois forward.”

As Deputy Governor for Public Policy, Cristal Thomas will help develop and implement the Quinn administration’s public policy priorities. Thomas previously served as Region V Director for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), acting as the official representative of Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Previously, Thomas was Executive Director of the Ohio Executive Medicaid Management Administration, serving as a member of Governor Ted Strickland’s cabinet. Thomas previously served as Assistant Director of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS), Director of Strategic Planning for HFS, and Policy Analyst in the White House Office of Management and Budget. She holds a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from the University of Chicago.

As Chief Information Officer, Vinck will direct the state’s information technology policies, focusing on improving and updating IT infrastructure. Additionally, he will oversee information technology officers throughout state government. Since January 2010, Vinck has served as Special Administrator for the Department of Corrections, where he was tasked with overhauling and modernizing the agency’s electronic Offender Tracking System. Previously, he served as Governor Quinn’s Chief Legislative Counsel and Chief of Intergovernmental Affairs. Vinck also served then-Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn as his Legislative Counsel. He holds a Master’s Degree in Political Science and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Notre Dame.

Secretary Brent Adams partnered with legislative leaders, industry experts, and consumer advocates to develop and pass the Cemetery Oversight Act, one of the most pro-consumer cemetery laws in the country. He also chaired the Mortgage Fraud Task Force and coordinated the Mortgage Relief Project, a statewide program that has helped thousands of homeowners take advantage of programs that can help them save their homes. He drafted and served as a lead negotiator for consumers on the Homeowner Protection Act, the Payday Loan Reform Act, the Consumer Installment Loan Reform Act, and regulations to protect consumers from predatory auto title loans.

Director Arthur Bishop brings more 35 years of experience in administering child welfare, community mental health and substance abuse programs including 15 years serving in the Department of Child and Family Services where he led several initiatives requiring interagency collaboration between public, private and community-based partners, including family advocacy centers, paternal involvement centers and the Fatherhood Initiative. Bishop has also represented DCFS on the Governor’s Task Force on the Condition of African American Males.

Director Dan Grant, a graduate of West Point, has led the Department of Veterans’ Affairs since 2009. Grant has worked with members of the Illinois legislature and testified at hearings to help secure passage of a bill that ensured interest payments were made on delayed Line-of-Duty Benefit payments to bereaved military families (SB 2489.) He also spearheaded legislation to establish the Task Force on Service Member and Veterans Education and the Military Family Interstate Compact Implementation Statute Drafting Advisory Committee (HB 5368). Grant is also a captain in the U.S. Army and led 28 men in a combat arms platoon during a year-long deployment in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He served throughout the Sunni Triangle in Bayji, Samarra, Balad, and Tikrit in a wide range of roles, including leading a 120 person team of soldiers, local Iraqi’s, U.S. contractors, and coalition allies in the excavation, collection and destruction of 3 million pounds of enemy ammunition during a 120 day mission.

Director Michael McRaith is leading the state’s implementation of federal health care reform and serves as chairman of the board of directors for the Illinois Comprehensive Health Insurance Plan (a high risk health insurance pool). He also supervises the state’s Senior Health Insurance Program (SHIP), and has actively participated in developing, drafting and advocating for statewide and national health insurance modernization, including boosting reporting requirements to guard against unreasonable premium hikes by Illinois health insurance providers. McRaith also serves on the executive committee of the board of directors for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago and serves on board of directors for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Chicago Chapter.

Director Marc Miller has led the Department of Natural Resources since 2009 after serving on then-Lieutenant Governor Quinn’s staff since June 2004. Miller was instrumental in the development and implementation of many environmental programs including the Dam Safety Initiative and the Mud-to-Parks program, which promoted the beneficial reuse of river settlement. He has also been instrumental in dozens of park development and land acquisition projects throughout Illinois. Miller is also an avid outdoorsman with an interest in fly fishing, hunting, canoeing, wildlife viewing, camping and hiking.


Governor Quinn Takes Bill Action **Friday, February 4, 2011** PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Politics & Elections
Written by Laurel White   
Monday, 07 February 2011 14:32

CHICAGO – February 4, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today took action on the following bills:

Bill No.: HB 1631

Extends the Marquette TIF District in the Village of Romeoville from 23 years (ending in 2012) to 35 years (ending in 2024).

An Act Concerning: Local government

Action: Signed                        

Effective Date: Immediately


Bill No.: HB 1720

Expands the definition of a “hospital” to include “buildings on a campus” and aligns the definition of “campus” with the definition used by federal Medicare regulations.

An Act Concerning: Regulation

Action: Signed                        

Effective Date: Immediately


Bill No.: HB 5178

Exempts ticket sales and membership fees sold at the Brookfield Zoo from a municipal amusement tax.

An Act Concerning: Revenue

Action: Signed                        

Effective Date: Immediately


Bill No.: HB 5417

Removes language providing that members of a downstate police pension fund receive a “pro rata” share of the benefits should such fund have insufficient money to pay the entirety of the benefits owed to its members.

An Act Concerning: Public Employee Benefits

Action: Signed                        

Effective Date: Immediately


Bill No.: SB 902

Deletes a provision regarding the dispensation of money from the State Migratory Waterfowl Stamp Fund, which is in conflict with another state law.

An Act Concerning: Fish

Action: Signed                        

Effective Date: Immediately

Bill No.: SB 2525

Ensures insurance availability for state employees and their dependents, and makes corrective changes regarding the Military Leave of Absence Act.

An Act Concerning: Public Employee Benefits

Action: Signed                        

Effective Date: Immediately


Bill No.: SB 3342

Provides that instruments issued by the Bi-State Development Authority mature at 40 years - rather than 30 years - after the date of issuance.

An Act Concerning: State Government

Action: Signed                        

Effective Date: Immediately


Governor Quinn Announces First Round of Top Cabinet Appointments PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Politics & Elections
Written by Andrew Mason   
Monday, 31 January 2011 16:42

Six Appointees to Help Lead Administration’s Continued Efforts to Reform State Government, Address Fiscal Challenges

CHICAGO – January 31, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today made six appointments to his executive cabinet. Today’s actions begin a series of appointments Governor Quinn will make over the first quarter of 2011 as he continues fulfilling his commitment to creating jobs, recovering our economy and making state government more efficient and accountable to the people of Illinois.

Today Governor Quinn re-appointed Director Rocco Claps to the Department of Human Rights, Director Brian Hamer to the Department of Revenue, Director Julie Hamos to the Department of Healthcare and Family Services, Secretary Gary Hannig to the Department of Transportation, Director Erwin McEwen to the Department of Children and Family Services and Secretary Michelle R.B. Saddler to the Department of Human Services.

“I am proud to appoint these trusted members of my cabinet to continue their dedicated service to the people of Illinois,” said Governor Quinn. “Over the course of my administration they have shown themselves to be unparalleled stewards of the public trust, and I look forward to their continued service.”

As Director of the Department of Human Rights, Rocco Claps has led efforts to establish civil unions, prevent sexual harassment on college campuses, reduce bullying in schools and increase gang prevention. Prior to his appointment to head the department, Claps served as deputy assessor for Cook County and held a number of positions within the administration of President Bill Clinton. He previously worked in the Illinois House of Representatives and is a graduate of Illinois State University.

Brian Hamer has led the Department of Revenue’s efforts to save Illinois millions of dollars by boosting electronic filing of tax returns as well as collecting tens of millions of dollars from gasoline tax evaders. He also administered the state’s 2010 tax amnesty program. He is a former deputy director of the Chicago Department of Revenue and previously served in Chicago’s corporation counsel office. Prior to his work in government, Hamer graduated from Yale University and earned a law degree from Columbia University, where he edited the school’s law review journal.

As Director of the Department of Healthcare and Family Services, Julie Hamos is leading the state’s implementation of national healthcare reform, and negotiated and led passage of Illinois’ historic Medicaid reform law. Hamos previously served in the Illinois House of Representatives from 1999 to 2010, representing the 18th District. Prior to her election to the General Assembly, Hamos worked as the legislative counsel and policy advisor to then-State’s Attorney Richard M. Daley, before being appointed director of the Child Support Division, which oversees more than 300,000 child support cases each year. Hamos earned a Bachelor’s degree from Washington University and a law degree from George Washington University.

As Secretary of the Department of Transportation, Gary Hannig is leading implementation of Illinois Jobs Now!, the largest capital construction and job creation plan in Illinois’ history. Previously, Hannig served in the Illinois House of Representatives from 1979 to 2009, representing the 98th district, eventually becoming Deputy Majority Leader. He graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in accounting.

Prior to his appointment to head the Department of Children and Family Services, Erwin McEwen served as child welfare administrator at Lakeside Community Committee, where he oversaw four core child welfare programs. He has committed 20 years of service to youth and families in the Illinois social services community, serving at Kaleidoscope, DCFS, Hull House and Lakeside. McEwen has also served as a member of the Illinois Statewide Foster Parent Advisory Council, the Illinois Child Care Association Board of Directors, the Child Welfare Advisory Committee on Performance-Based Contracting, and the African American Family Commission's Monitoring and Oversight Committee.

Secretary Michelle R.B. Saddler has led the Department of Human Services since October 2009, except during a time when she served as Governor Quinn’s Chief of Staff from August 2010 to December 2010. Saddler led implementation of the state’s nationally-recognized Put Illinois to Work program, which put more than 26,000 people to work throughout the state, giving them valuable job experience to ensure that they are competitive in the workforce. Her  past positions include Vice President for International Adoptions for the Lifelink Corporation and Executive Director of the Illinois Metropolitan Investment Fund. She also served as Director of Investments with then-Illinois State Treasurer Quinn and is a Co-Chair of the Board of Directors of Protestants for the Common Good.


Long-sought Grassley reform to end secret holds passes Senate PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Politics & Elections
Written by Sen Chuck Grassley   
Monday, 31 January 2011 13:52
WASHINGTON - January 27, 2011 - Senators Chuck Grassley and Ron Wyden have scored a major victory in their bipartisan effort, which started more than a decade ago, to end the secrecy of Senate holds, a practice that allows individual senators to object to Senate action on legislation or nominations and, thereby, prevent a measure from moving forward.

The Senate passed a binding resolution sponsored by Grassley and Wyden today by a vote of 92 to 4.  It is the first time a Senate vote for the reform sought by Grassley and Wyden was on a freestanding resolution, and the change took effect upon passage.  The Standing Order created by the Grassley-Wyden legislation will require senators to make their objections in writing and the objections to be printed in The Congressional Record two days after they are made, whether or not the bills or nominations have been brought up for floor consideration.  Grassley said the goal is to increase transparency and achieve greater accountability.

“Holds are an important right of individual senators as they work to represent their constituents and for the best interests of the country, but the right ought to be exercised in the light of day,” Grassley said.  “Disclosure will be good for the legislative process.  The requirements of our resolution will be meaningful in helping to make the public’s business public.”

Grassley and Wyden started their crusade against secret holds more than 10 years ago and have been joined in recent years by Senators Claire McCaskill and Susan Collins in making an effective case.

Over the years, Grassley and Wyden have made progress but also met opposition.  Leadership pledges to end the practice were disregarded.  In 1997, a Senate-passed Grassley-Wyden amendment to stop the secrecy was gutted by a legislative conference committee.  In 2006, Wyden-Grassley reform legislation passed the Senate as an amendment only to be altered to the point of ineffectiveness by 2007-passed legislation.

All along, Grassley and Wyden have made their own holds public information by routinely putting statements in The Congressional Record whenever they placed a hold.

The text of the floor statement delivered today by Grassley follows here.

Floor Statement of U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley

Thursday, January 27, 201

Mr. President.  I’m pleased to see this day come where the Senate will finally have the opportunity for an up or down vote on our freestanding Senate Resolution to require public disclosure of holds.

Senator Wyden and I have been at this for a long time.  We’ve made progress at times, and we have also had many disappointments where things didn’t work out like we had hoped.  It’s also been good to have Senator McCaskill join us in helping push this issue to the forefront recently.

Ending secret holds seems like a simple matter, but that hasn’t proven to be the case.  Because secret holds are an informal process, it is easier said than done to push them out into the open using formal Senate procedures.  It’s kind of like trying to wrestle down a greased hog.  However, after a lot of thought and effort, two committee hearings, and many careful revisions, I think this resolution does a pretty good job of accomplishing our simple goal.

That goal is really just to bring some more transparency into how the Senate does business.  This isn’t the only proposal we are considering today related to Senate procedure, and I don’t want there to be any confusion.  This proposal is not about altering the balance of power between the majority and minority party; neither does our resolution alter the rights of individual senators.

Over the time I’ve been working on this issue, I have occasionally encountered arguments purporting to defend the need for secret holds.  However, the arguments invariably focus on the legitimacy of holds, not secrecy.  I want to be clear that secrecy is my only target and the only thing that this resolution eliminates.

I fully support the fundamental right of an individual senator to withhold his or her consent when unanimous consent is requested.  Senators are not obligated to give their consent to anything they don’t want to,and no senator is entitled to get any other senator’s consent to their motion.

I think the best way to describe what we seek to do with this resolution is to explain historically how holds came into being, as senators have heard me do before.  In the old days, when senators conducted much of their daily business from their desk on the Senate floor, it was a simple matter to stand up and say, “I object” when necessary.  These days, most senators spend most of their time off the Senate floor.  We are required to spend time in committee hearings, meeting with constituents, and attending to other duties that keep us away from the Senate chamber.  As a result, we rely on our respective party’s leaders here in the Senate to protect our rights and prerogatives as individual senators by asking them to object on our behalf.

Just as any senator has the right to stand up on the Senate floor and publicly say, “I object,” it is perfectly legitimate to ask another senator to object on our behalf if we cannot make it to the floor when consent is requested.  By the same token, Senators have no inherent right to have others object on their behalf while keeping their identity secret.

If a senator has a legitimate reason to object to proceeding to a bill or nominee, then he or she ought to have the guts to do so publicly.  We need have no fear of being held accountable by our constituents if we are acting in their interest as we are elected to do.

Transparency is essential for accountability, and accountability is an essential component of our Constitutional system.  Transparency and accountability are also vital for the public to have faith in their government.

As I’ve said many times, the people’s business ought to be done in public.  In my view, that’s the principle at stake here.

The New Politics of Iowa’s Judicial Retention Elections: PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Politics & Elections
Written by Caitlin Carroll   
Monday, 31 January 2011 13:41

Examining the 2010 Campaign and Vote

 WHAT: Panel discussion on what the 2010 judicial elections can teach voters and judges about the politics of judicial elections when faced with a complex, hot-button social issue like same-sex marriage.

WHEN:         Thursday – February 3, 2011 @ 7:00pm CT

WHERE: Levitt Auditorium

University of Iowa College of Law

130 Byington

Iowa City, IA 52242

WHO: Professor Brian T. Fitzpatrick, Vanderbilt Law School

Michael Streit, former Iowa Supreme Court Justice

Seth Andersen, Executive Director, American Judicature Society

Kathie Obradovich, Columnist, Des Moines Register

Professor David Perlmutter, University of Iowa

Professor Todd Pettys, University of Iowa - Moderator

To RSVP, please contact Caitlin Carroll at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 703-683-5004 ext. 115.



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