Bernard Schoenburg: AFL-CIO not immune from economy
Tough economic times have dealt a direct hit to the state’s top union organization.
MICHAEL CARRIGAN, president of the Illinois AFL-CIO, said the organization laid off six of its 23 staffers statewide.
That includes three from the Springfield office, near the Statehouse on Second Street, and at least two based in the other main office, in Burr Ridge, said spokesman BILL LOOBY.
Among those let go as of the first week in May was BETH SPENCER, who has been director of communications. She’s been helpful and responsive, and it wasn’t until I tried to call her about something this week that I discovered she was no longer with the union organization.
Others who were let go were mostly clerical, Carrigan said.
Looby, perhaps known best now in the capital city for his unpaid position as president of the Springfield School Board, is also director of the state AFL-CIO’s Committee on Political Education, or COPE, which is its political action committee. He used to be spokesman for the union, and at least for now, again has communications duties.
Spencer is a Decatur resident and nonsalaried member of the board of the Decatur Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.
“I know she’s making inquiries,” said Carrigan, who served as an alderman in Decatur and in 2008-2009 as mayor, following the resignation of PAUL OSBORNE. “We’re glad to recommend her and assist in any way we can.” The current mayor is MIKE McELROY.
Carrigan said the Illinois AFL-CIO is the third largest state federation in the country. It has 844,000 members, Looby said.
“The cost of everything continues to go up, and our revenue from our per-capita system that’s paid by our affiliates (is) just flatlining,” Carrigan said. “It’s an unfortunate commentary and obviously, we hope for a turnaround.”
New job for Johnson
Former Springfield corporation counsel JENIFER JOHNSON is the new general counsel for the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.
Johnson, 42, led the city’s legal team during the tenure of late Mayor TIM DAVLIN. She began the new job, which pays $107,400 annually, in May.
PATTI THOMPSON, spokeswoman for IEMA, said Johnson submitted her resume to the governor’s general counsel, and then interviewed for the post at IEMA with Director JONATHON MONKEN.
“They thought that with her experience with the city of Springfield and dealing with public safety issues, that that would be a good fit,” Thompson said.
Hansen to Statehouse beat
ANDREW HANSEN recently became Statehouse reporter for WICS-TV.
Hansen, 25, is a Joliet native. At Valparaiso University in Indiana, where he graduated in 2007, he had a double major in TV-radio and sports management, with a minor in business.
He’s been at WICS since late 2008, often handling sports as well as news, and anchor duties.
His new job also has him co-anchoring the Sunday night news with LIZ FOSTER.
“I never considered myself very politically minded until moving to Springfield,” said Hansen, who earlier worked for a Quincy TV station. “I enjoy the fact that you have the hard-news … aspect of a bill or a law, and you can also combine that with the human element of how that’s going to affect you or me or Suzie down the street.”
He said he is “pretty neutral” politically.
Reporter KATIE HEINZ had been covering the Statehouse after CATIE SHEEHAN left the station and joined the staff of state Treasurer DAN RUTHERFORD. Heinz, a Palatine native who got a master’s from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University after graduating from the University of Illinois at Urbana, has been covering the trial of former Gov. ROD BLAGOJEVICH from Chicago. DEANA REECE, news director at the station, said that while Heinz filled in for Sheehan at the Statehouse, it was considered interim, and she will probably return to covering city and county government after the trial.
Libri leaving Guard
A 30-year run in the Illinois Army National Guard is ending June 30 for Sangamon County Republican Chairman TONY LIBRI.
Libri, who is also Sangamon County circuit clerk, was an active-duty enlisted man in the U.S. Marine Corps before joining the National Guard as a second lieutenant. He said you can serve only 30 years as an officer, and as he leaves, he’s the senior colonel in the state.
“It’s going to be different, because ever since I was young, this is … not all I’ve done, but it’s something that I know very well and I’m comfortable with,” he said. “And I’m going to miss it.”
Libri’s Guard duty has included assignments in many countries, and he was at times in harm’s way. He served in Bosnia, Croatia, Hungary, Kuwait, Panama, Germany and Alaska, as well as Afghanistan.
The eight-month deployment to Afghanistan, which ended in late 2009, saw Libri participate in 140 missions. It looked like mighty hard work, based on a news story about one of those missions on Chicago-based WGN-TV.
“There were three or four times when I left an area or a building, and it blew up in a matter of seconds or somebody drove a car into the place right after we left,” he told me when he returned.
Now, as back in late 2009, nice to have him back and safe after doing his service.
Bernard Schoenburg is political columnist at The State Journal-Register. He can be reached at 788-1540 or email@example.com.