Granberg has questions to answer
The Belleville News Democrat did not pull any punches with its recent editorial about Kurt Granberg’s appointment to serve as director of the Department of Natural Resources.
The Belleville editorial said:
“Most people were outraged when disgraced Gov. Rod Blagojevich appointed Roland Burris as U.S. senator. Well, the now impeached governor has named retired state Rep. Kurt Granberg, D- Carlyle, to the $133,273-a-year job as director of the Department of Natural Resources, which is just as outrageous.
The job has had an acting director—St. Clair County politician Sam Flood—since December 2005. Suddenly Blagojevich has to fill the spot permanently with one of his few remaining supporters.
It’s disappointing that Granberg would accept this appointment. His former colleagues just voted 114-1 to impeach Blagojevich. Obviously Granberg cares more about looking out for himself than public opinion.”
Click here to read the rest of the editorial.
The Department of Natural Resources has a new director.
One of his top priorities is starting a golf trail in southern Illinois. What golf has to do with natural resources is a logical question.
Kurt Granberg said he plans to answer that question and many more. Granberg was appointed DNR director late last Friday. The long-time state representative from Carlyle moved into his DNR office Thursday after attending President Obama’s inauguration.
Granberg was no surprise. He had been touted as the next DNR director for more than a year and bought a house in Springfield last summer. The timing of the appointment was a surprise given Gov. Blagojevich’s current situation.
Or maybe it wasn’t a surprise. Granberg — a staunch Blagojevich ally with 21 years in the House of Representatives — resigned his seat hours before the impeachment vote. Such loyalty brings rewards in Illinois, deserved or not.
By taking a $133,000 per year position, Granberg earns a hefty raise from the $85,903 he earned as a legislator. More importantly, he could also ensure his state pension is based on that higher salary by serving even a short term at DNR.
But Granberg bristled at the notion his appointment is tainted.
“I was supposed to be appointed more than a year ago,” Granberg said. “So I’m not going to address that. There are too many serious issues to be addressed at DNR. It’s been a tough year for DNR.”
No question there. But is Granberg the best person to address those issues? Will the Senate confirm his appointment? And why a golf trail?
Granberg said the Abraham Lincoln Golf Trail would be modeled after a similar trail in Alabama. He said state lodges would benefit from the tourism. “We’re essentially ready to go with this,” Granberg said.
In a year of preparing to run the DNR, that’s the best Granberg came up with. Any wonder conservation types are gnashing their teeth?
Any wonder the Belleville News-Democrat called Granberg’s appointment “outrageous” in an editorial.
Any wonder many expect Granberg’s reign will be short.
When Kevin McDermott of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch asked Granberg about working for Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, Granberg laughed and said, “Pat and I don’t get along.”
By Wednesday Granberg had changed his tune. While conceding he and Quinn have been at odds, Granberg said he can work with the lieutenant governor. “I think we’ve both matured over the years and hopefully (Quinn) would come in with an open mind and I will come in with an open mind,” Granberg said.
But if Blagojevich is removed from office, Granberg might want to put that Springfield house on the market based on Quinn’s official statement: “We have had a long line of professional politicians in the DNR and the agency needs someone with a natural resources background. Someone who understands hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, birdwatching and a good steward of natural resources.”
Granberg said he measures up to many of those qualifications.
“I’m going to be an unabashed advocate of the DNR,” said Granberg, whose term is set to run through January of 2011. “From my knowledge of the legislative process I think I can be an asset to DNR. I know how to get things done.”
An occasional hunter who grew up fishing in Clinton County, Granberg said his first priority is to meet with conservation groups.
“I’m not an expert, but I’m smart enough to know I’m not an expert,” Granberg said.
In regards to reopening closed parks, Granberg needs more time for evaluation. “I think we have to go park by park and look at usage, revenue and quality. If a park is not being used very much, that may not be a priority.”
Granberg said he is also aware of problems regarding sweeps of dedicated funds that could jeopardize $16 million in federal money.
Granberg is also aware that many are critical of his lacking background in natural resources. He even mentioned the perception he is a “political hack.”
“I understand people are frustrated. People in my district are worried and frustrated,” he said. “But I think they’ll be reassured after I’ve had a chance to talk to them.”
UNIQUE HUNTS: As hunting seasons end, stalking predators gains in popularity. Three unique contests this weekend are proof of that.
On Saturday the Central Outdoors Coyote Classic starts at 6 a.m. at Bridson’s Taxidermy north of Elmwood. Check-in is from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Cost is $50 per team. Visit centraloutdoors.com.
Then Sunday Al’s Sporting Goods of Galesburg and Grizzly’s Wholesale hold their 20th annual Predator Thon. Hunters start at 5 a.m. at Al’s or in Middle Grove and are due back at Al’s at 1 p.m. (1:30 p.m. for Middle Grove participants). Trophies are awarded for top two-man and four-man teams. Cost is $7.50 per hunter. Call (309) 342-7776.
Also Sunday, Presley’s Outdoors has a Crow-a-Thon from sunrise to 3 p.m. Cost is $20. Call (309) 697-1193.