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Governor has not visited closing sites

September 17, 2008 at 08:48 PM


CHICAGO (AP)—Gov. Rod Blagojevich won’t know what he missed when two dozen state parks and historic sites shut down because of budget cuts.

That’s because he’s never visited them, according to Blagojevich spokesman Lucio Guerrero.

“A lot of people haven’t been, I mean the decision to close them are based on attendance figures not on whether the governor likes them or not,” Guerrero said.

The Democratic governor has made no personal visits or held official events at the 11 state parks and 13 historic sites slated to close over the next two months to help close a $2 billion budget hole, Guerrero said.

Being a no-show isn’t likely to do much for the image of a governor already chided for being too Chicago-centric, starting with his refusal to live in the executive mansion in Springfield.

Some of the historic sites slated for closure have ties to Abraham Lincoln, including his father’s reconstructed log cabin near Charleston and the Vandalia statehouse where Lincoln was a state lawmaker before Springfield was the capital.

More popular Lincoln sites, including the 16th president’s tomb and the Old State Capitol where he delivered his “House Divided” speech, both in Springfield, won’t close. Illinois is gearing up to celebrate Lincoln’s 200th birthday next year. The tomb had about 339,000 visitors last year and about 109,250 people visited the Old State Capitol.

“I’d love to see the governor visit all the historic sites,” said Jim Peters, president of Landmarks Illinois, a preservation advocacy group.

The closures send the wrong message, Peters said.

“It sends the message that tourism is not as important,” he said.

Other sites to be closed include the Lincoln Log Cabin near Charleston, which had about 82,700 visitors last year, the Vandalia Statehouse, which nearly 31,700 people visited, and the birthplace of Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Carl Sandburg in Galesburg, which had nearly 8,600 visitors last year, according to state figures.

The state’s largest union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said the governor’s absence from the places he wants to shutter shows he’s out of touch with what goes on there.

“I think the governor needs a better understanding and appreciation of the essential services that state employees provide and of the tremendous effort and sacrifices they make to provide those services,” union spokesman Anders Lindall said.

The administration had to make “tough decisions” on budget cuts, Guerrero said. State agency budgets were slashed, hundreds of workers are being laid off and others are being forced to take unpaid leave.

The Illinois House has voted to reverse some of Blagojevich’s budget cuts, but the Senate isn’t expected back in session until November to take up the matter.

Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn has launched an online petition drive to stop the closure of the 11 state parks.

“I think it’s important to visit state parks,” Quinn said. “Anybody in statewide office should spend time there.”

Rachel Pfaff of Morris has started her own online petition to oppose closing the parks and has collected nearly 29,000 signatures. Since Blagojevich hasn’t visited the parks he doesn’t understand what they mean to people, she said.

“It makes me very angry,” Pfaff said. “This is a place where my children go to fish and play.”

Just because Blagojevich hasn’t visited the targeted historic sites or parks, including the Channahon Parkway State Park and Illini State Park in Marseilles, doesn’t mean he doesn’t appreciate them, Guerrero said.

“He’s a student of history so ... he obviously realizes the significance of all the sites,” Guerrero said. He added: “But it was just a matter of being fiscally responsible and having to do what was right for the whole state.”

Blagojevich not visiting adds weight to the argument that the administration’s decisions on what sites to close are not subjective, Guerrero said.

Personnel issues, including union concerns, have delayed the closings of the parks and historic sites. The historic sites, initially set to close Oct. 1, will now close Oct. 15, although some will be open on a limited basis for special events. The state parks, originally scheduled to close Nov. 1, will instead close Nov. 30.

That gives Blagojevich more time to get in a few visits.

Your CommentsComments :: Terms :: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

This is news?  We’ve long known that whenever he leaves Cook County he wears rubber gloves and a mask.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/17 at 09:12 PM

Why can’t we cut some of the chicago parks and funding, they have enough people and tax base to fund every state park and historic site in the area. Let the people of chicago pay for there own parks and give back the money to the rest of the state.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/18 at 02:08 AM

Welcome to Illinois a suburb of Chicago….The money that’s in Chicago…..stays in Chicago…...

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/18 at 05:56 AM

Hidden Spring’s state park has the finest open to the public archery coarse in the state .That alone is enough reason to keep that park open….elevated shooting at target’s… real hunting situation shot’s.all in a beautiful pine wood’s ... a site in range…from April to Nov. the coarse has shooter’s on it….....

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/18 at 06:02 AM

All you have to do is look at where the parks slated to close are located to see…Chicago politics as usual.
Hint: they’re all in districts of legislators who oppose Blago.

Posted by carpsniper on 09/18 at 07:49 AM

Blago sucks.  He has absolutely no desire to visit anyplace he can’t walk on concrete.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/18 at 07:55 AM

Of coures he has never had an event at any of those places. He does not get kickbacks from them. He only uses his buddys for things like that.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/19 at 06:29 AM

I’m a voting democrat and avid outdoorsman.  I voted for this Chicago bum, a regretful decision for which I’ll have to live with.  Definitely considering a more independent approach for state and federal elections in the future.  In my opinion, this looms as a more grievous act than either of Ryan’s as governor, be it the moratorium on executions in 2000 or his truck drivers’ licenses obtained through bribes scandal.  Being a down-stater from South-Central IL, I along with my Chicago friends from college have regularly met at Moraine View SP and Kickapoo SP allowing us a nice meeting-place for camping and canoe trips over the last 10 years.  Did anyone know that the Vermillion River was the only river with scenic designation in the state?  This is truly a surprise and travesty that should be of the deepest concern of all Illinoisians, young and old.  If you went to the Chicago suburbs and started shutting down the numerous park districts you would see civil action of a magnitude previously unseen in our state.  And these are our state parks and precious historic sites.  And by the way, the only history Bugsy Blago should be studying are the writings on the wall of his prison cell - a down-state one hopefully.  Misuse of power and corruption are the charges.  Lest we forget, round up Blago’s corrupt buddies too and don’t forget Daley.  WWAD?...What Would Abe Do?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/19 at 12:48 PM

Blago is the worst excuse for a governor this state has ever had. He should be impeached now and definitely not allowed any futher public office of any kind. Unfortunately his buddies Obama and Daley will be called upon if Obama is elected. WE will end up not only fighting to keep our guns, but also to have a public place to hunt or fish. These guys just don’t get it nor do they care. I say get rid of them now before its too late.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/19 at 01:31 PM

Cant we just cut Chicago off from the rest of the state I mean Virgina did it lets cut the state in half North Illinois and South Illinois

we can rule are state as it should be with out having to worry about are hard earned money fixing roads in ChiCrapo and having are parks closed

I meancome on whoes with me lets sighn some petitions and get this crap done ....They dont know we exist any how to a ChiCrapian the state stops at Champaighn

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/23 at 01:55 PM

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