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Reeder: Quinn doesn’t spend much time in Springfield

Scott Reeder

Scott Reeder

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Updated: August 31, 2013 6:31AM



During the last year, Gov. Pat Quinn spent less than 14 percent of his time actually working in Springfield.

In fact, the governor spent almost as much time on trips outside of Illinois as he did in the state capital.

From July 1, 2012 through June 30, Quinn spent 50 days doing at least some work in Springfield, according to his personal schedule, which I obtained through Illinois’ freedom of information law.

By way of comparison, he spent 48 days traveling outside the Land of Lincoln. Among his stops during the year — Mexico, Brazil and Germany.

I wasn’t surprised by the findings. After all, it’s pretty obvious to any statehouse observer that Quinn doesn’t spend much time in the capital city.

I note this with a bit of regret, remembering full well that Quinn promised when he became governor that he would live in Springfield.

And let’s not forget that we taxpayers pay roughly $500,000 a year to maintain the governor’s mansion, where he refuses to reside in for even one-fifth of the year.

He isn’t the first of the state’s chief executives to make this transgression. Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich didn’t live in Springfield, either.

You’ll recall that during his cameo appearances in the capital, Blago would swoop in aboard a state jet and fly home to Chicago the same day. The sheets at the governor’s mansion hardly seemed to get rustled for six years.

Blagojevich’s excuse? He didn’t want his kids to be raised in the Springfield media spotlight.

But Quinn is a bachelor. What’s his justification?

I asked his office on Monday, and its response is that Quinn lives in both Chicago and Springfield.

But in the past, Quinn has insisted that he does live in Springfield. In fact, in 2010 he publicly disclosed that’s where he keeps his underwear.

Well, either he’s got a change of clothes stashed somewhere else in the state or he’s changing way too infrequently.

Heck, for four of the last 12 months, he didn’t bother to step foot in the governor’s mansion.

Not everyone has taken the Quinn/Blagojevich approach.

Jim Edgar made Springfield his primary home while he was governor. Jim Thompson split his time as governor between Chicago and Springfield. George Ryan spent considerable time in Chicago, Springfield and at his Kankakee home.

While I didn’t always agree with the agendas that these governors pushed, I can say, having covered all of their administrations, that they were effective in pushing their plans.

The fact of the matter is I don’t care where a governor lies at night.

But I do care if he is lying during the day.

Within moments of taking office, Quinn promised to reside in the executive mansion.

“It’s going to get a good workout this year,” Quinn told reporters at his first news conference.

But the next year, a Chicago Tribune analysis found that he had only spent 55 nights in the mansion in the year following that statement.

As my research found, it hasn’t changed much since then. His residency has been intermittent at best.

I know, some folks are going to accuse me of regional parochialism. But it’s more than that.

To quote Woody Allen: “Eighty percent of success is just showing up.”

And when it comes to leading in Springfield, Quinn hasn’t been showing up.

Scott Reeder is a veteran statehouse reporter and the journalist-in-residence at the Illinois Policy Institute, a nonprofit research group that supports the free market and limited government.



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