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Mike Joyce withdraws from Quinn appointment

Tom Zbikowski shown March 2007 exhibitibout is scheduled fight for second time as professional Saturday March 12 2011 undercard Miguel

Tom Zbikowski, shown in a March 2007 exhibition bout, is scheduled to fight for the second time as a professional Saturday, March 12, 2011, on the undercard of Miguel Cotto's title defense at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. | AP file photo

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Updated: January 23, 2012 1:59AM



A Southland coach prepped for an appointment to Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration withdrew his application, citing pay concerns.

Mike “Pickle” Joyce, of Chicago’s Morgan Park community, said outside-income restrictions placed on board members persuaded him to withdraw his resume from consideration for the Illinois Labor Relations Board.

But Joyce also admitted he sought professional help following a June 2009 binge drinking incident that gave the Quinn administration pause as well.

Joyce, who for years has coached boxing at Leo Catholic High School and campaigned for Quinn, was in line to receive a $93,926 position mediating labor disputes for municipalities and other governmental bodies. The board is one of few coveted oversight panels in Illinois that pays its board members.

But the salary comes with restrictions, thanks to ethics law changes brought about after corruption allegations in Rod Blagojevich’s administration. Paid board members are not allowed to collect outside income while serving.

Joyce cited that restriction as the reason he decided against the new job. He is representing Tom Zbikowski, an Arlington Heights native and Baltimore Ravens football player, who is scheduled to box Saturday in Las Vegas as part of a showcase match.

Labor strife in the National Football League is nudging a handful of professional football players to consider boxing careers, and Zbikowski is one of them.

“(The Quinn administration) did not ask me to step down,” Joyce, an attorney and former boxer, said Wednesday. “I’ve been with Zbikowski since he was 9 years old. This opportunity just presented itself.”

But Joyce also didn’t discount the impact of a recent news report claiming he grew belligerent during a 2009 lunch at Gibson’s Steakhouse in Rosemont. Joyce was cited with disorderly conduct but was not charged. The restaurant manager failed to appear in court.

The police report indicates Joyce was drunk and picked fights with other patrons. A manager asked him to leave, at which time he spit on the floor. The report says he was uncooperative at the police station and referred to an officer by the “n” word.

Joyce also reportedly questioned why he was handcuffed to a bench at the station because, “I’m not an ‘n,’” according to the report.

Joyce admitted he had too many Manhattans, a drink he had not tried before. When I asked him about it, Joyce told me, privately, he sought professional help afterward dealing with binge drinking.

He decided to go public with the information because alcohol abuse and professional intervention is “not something I should be ashamed of, even though I am. I found out what my triggers were and how to deal with it, and I’ve been sober every day since then.”

He denied using the “n” word, pointing out he is intertwined in the black community through his boxing coaching. For years, he has mentored black athletes from Leo Catholic High School.

Last summer, he married one of Muhammad Ali’s daughters.

Joyce, 43, has long been known as a wild card. The son of former state Sen. Jeremiah Joyce, who is a confidante of Mayor Richard Daley, and the brother of former state Rep. Kevin Joyce, Mike Joyce — known as “Pickle” — often is a behind-the-scenes player in political campaigns. He is known for his unpredictable behavior, something he hopes is in his past.

He and Worth Township committeeman John O’Sullivan campaigned for Quinn throughout 2010.

Quinn sent Joyce’s nomination to the Illinois Senate for confirmation in early February. It stalled in the Senate’s executive appointments committee, however, and Joyce withdrew his name last week.

He was supposed to start the new job Feb. 14 and serve until 2013.

As of Wednesday, Quinn had not formally nominated anyone to replace Joyce.

For his sake, let’s hope the next nominee comes with a little less baggage.



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