Doug Finke: A tough year for Illinois GOP?

Doug Finke

*This is supposed to be a rough year at the polls for Illinois Republicans. Take this as an omen if you want.

Sen. LARRY BOMKE, R-Springfield, is running for re-election. He held a fundraiser last week using the golf outing format popular with politicians. He offered prizes for getting a hole-in-one on the four par-three holes: $10,000 cash, golf clubs and a bag, a trip to Scotland and a cruise. What's to worry? Holes in one are rare under any circumstances. In the five years he's been doing golf outings, Bomke's never had to pay out for a hole-in-one.

That ended last week. Not one, but two people aced holes, winning the golf clubs and the cash. That's got to be the same odds as the Republicans winning control of state government in November.

No need to fret for Bomke's campaign fund. Organizers of golf outings buy insurance against this stuff. Bet his rates go up next year, though.

*The state's Procurement Policy Board is a group of non-lawmakers who review state building leases, among other things. The Department of Central Management Services is responsible for negotiating leases and otherwise securing office space for agencies under Blagojevich's control.

Last month, CMS asked the board to approve a lease renewal on a building in Harvey used by the Department of Children and Family Services. The board refused. For one thing, the Harvey lease cost about the same as the lease for the Illinois Department of Transportation Annex building in Springfield. That's where IDOT's Division of Traffic Safety is housed -- for now. IDOT wants to move the division to southern Illinois, in part, it says, because the Springfield lease is too expensive.

For another thing, the Harvey lease worked out to a generous 395 square feet per employee. About 250 square feet is considered sort of a standard. The board said it wanted more information and told CMS to return to the July meeting.

Last week, CMS did just that. It turns out there was some, um, confusion. According to CMS, Cook County government was supposed to use about 19,000 square feet of the 49,000-square-foot building. However, Cook County isn’t using the space, so DCFS just sort of spread out. CMS isn’t sure if Cook County ever occupied space in the building or if it did once and moved out.

Board member ED BEDORE said the bottom line is the state is paying more than $500,000 a year for space it doesn’t need. That’s $5 million over the length of the lease.

“You could build your own building in Harvey for $5 million,” Bedore said.

CMS said it will see if there are other state agencies that can use the space. In the meantime, the board still didn’t approve the lease extension.

Your government at work.