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Illinois hunting and fishing

Granberg out as DNR director

February 04, 2009 at 03:09 PM

Granberg reaction

Click here to read Brian Brueggemann's story on Granberg in the Belleville News-Democrat. Click here to read Dale Bowman's short opinion on the matter, which includes his view that Marc Miller will be named as DNR director.

SPRINGFIELD — Kurt Granberg was fired as director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources on Wednesday, less than three weeks after his appointment.

Leaders of state conservation groups urged Gov. Pat Quinn to make sure Granberg’s replacement has a background in managing a natural resources organization.

Granberg was appointed Jan. 16 by former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. A new director will be announced at a news conference at 2:30 p.m. Thursday.

DNR spokeswoman Stacey Solano said Quinn was able to withdraw Granberg’s appointment because the state Senate had not yet confirmed him.

“Somebody who has a background in managing a natural resources agency is a must,” said Tom Clay, executive director of the Illinois Audubon Society. “There is just no room for debate on this issue.”

Brian Anderson, chief of the Illinois Natural History Survey in Champaign, said Quinn and the eventual DNR director have a difficult job ahead.

“They’ve lost an awful lot of people,” he said. “There are people doing multiple jobs.”

Clay said DNR staff needs the support of upper management.

“It’s going to take some nurturing,” he said. “They need to be bolstered. The people who still work at DNR need to feel they are part of a greater effort.

“They need someone that can right the ship and give it long-term direction.”

Anderson said Quinn has been involved with conservation issues, including chairing the Illinois River Coordinating Council.

“I think we are all relieved to have someone like Pat Quinn as governor,” he said.

“There are still a lot of great professionals working at the agency and I think they have been hunkered down for a while,” he added. “I’m anxious to see these guys back on their feet.”

He said one way to rebuild public trust would be to reach out to constituent groups. Many say they feel shut out of the decision-making process.

“We’ve been on the outside looking in for six years,” said Clay. “To have conservation organizations around the state feeling like we are working in a partnership with DNR is important,” he said. “I think we’ve lost that.”

Sources say Granberg left the DNR building in Springfield this morning after learning he had been dismissed from his job. Granberg told the Associated Press his ouster wasn’t completely unexpected but said he had tried to talk to Quinn to discuss his plans, to no avail.

Sources also confirm what Granberg had said earlier this week: That by serving in the DNR director job since being named by former Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Jan. 16, he has received a pension bump of about $40,000. Sources say Granberg’s salary increased from about $86,000 as a legislator to about $133,000 as DNR director, boosting his pension to about $113,000.

Earlier this week Granberg had said, “I can already get the higher rate for my pension. I’m vested. I’m in. I can stay home and collect this pension. But I don’t want to quit. I want to accomplish these goals. I don’t want to go out as some guy just trying to collect a pension. I think we can turn this thing at DNR around.”

State law indicates that as long as he was on the agency payroll and pension contributions were deducted from his pay, a person in Granberg’s position would qualify for a pension equal to 85 percent of his final, $133,273 pay at DNR, said Timothy Blair, acting director of the State Retirement Systems. He could start collecting immediately.

But lawyers are examining the issue because of Granberg’s status as an appointee whom the Senate had not confirmed, Blair said.

The pension formula is based on Granberg’s more than two decades in the General Assembly, which would qualify him for a $73,000 pension. The new job made him eligible for the higher pension.

Granberg, a 55-year-old Democrat from Carlyle, spent 22 years in the House. Among other things, he had hoped to develop a “golf trail” in southern Illinois, linking golf courses that enthusiasts could play while staying in state lodges along the way.

Granberg said he hoped to talk to Quinn about the golf course link and several fundraisers he lined up for the state’s Conservation Foundation. But Quinn did not return his calls.

“We could have put that agency back to where it was years ago,” Granberg said. “They desperately need an administrator. They don’t necessarily need a biologist or a gun person, they need an administrator, someone to change the moral out there and to meet those challenges.”

Granberg said he intends to keep his full pension, if he qualifies, because he has worked on the golf trail and other DNR projects for a year, since Blagojevich first promised him the post.

He had also contacted wildlife and environmental groups to discuss a spring legislative agenda, which he could have advanced because of a good reputation in both the House and Senate, he said. But Granberg might have faced a tough confirmation process before a Senate wanting to move away from the Blagojevich legacy.

After he was impeached, Blagojevich appointed Granberg Jan. 16, and Granberg started a week later. But the Senate removed the governor from office last week.

Blagojevich, who took office in 2003, first appointed another Democratic representative, Joel Brunsvold of Milan, to lead DNR. Brunsvold resigned in December 2005 after overseeing deep cuts to the agency during budget crises. For more than three years, Sam Flood, who previously worked in Blagojevich’s patronage office, was acting director.

Flood has retired but DNR’s management team will direct operations until Quinn appoints a new chief, agency spokesman Chris McCloud said.

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

a step in the right direction.  now let’s put someone in there that know’s something about the outdoors…

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/04 at 03:27 PM

Yeah!!!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/04 at 03:30 PM

Brent Manning

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/04 at 03:45 PM

ummm no not brent manning

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/04 at 04:22 PM

I am concerned about the extra $40,000 a year until death do us part he gets to keep. I thought that state workers had to have 2 final years of service, not a week.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/04 at 04:35 PM

Jeff Lampe knows something about the outdoors….

Posted by Clif on 02/04 at 04:36 PM

Well him and his buddy Rod got exactly what they wanted… the law should be changed to make them serve a year or more in their position to receive the pension benefits. Of course that will never happen since they write the rules that govern such things. We can only hope that Karma catches up to all of them. Yeah, I’m a little bitter about the whole mess.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/04 at 05:24 PM

Thank you Gov. Quinn.
Did everyone notice how Granberg had already found time to confirm his pension was bumped up.
IF, Granberg is a noble person, like some have said. Then he will turn down the $40,000 bump up in pension, since he took this job knowing full well it was only a temp job.

I guess we will soon see this mans true colors, hu.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/04 at 05:28 PM

Lynn, don’t hold your breath.
He’s a politician, AKA Lying Leach.
He’ll live high on the hog, and You and I
will continue to foot the bill.
Just like Sam Flood.
Criminals, is what they are.
Senate sanctioned criminals.
Perhaps Ms. Leann Toth is out there and will
enlighten us all on how we are being unfair
to this good and honest man.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/04 at 06:07 PM

As for me I’ll stick by my original post on this subject: “In 22 years in the State General Assembly, he has had no record of concern over the IDNR’s fate, why would he suddenly change his positions?

Would you trust a long-time politician that “borrows” $50,000 from his campaign fund and calls it a “loan.” So that he doesn’t have to pay income tax on the “loan.”  Yeah, I’ll bet he’ll be paying that one back.

And, how about these allegations of mis-use of his authority as a State Legislator in interfering with game law violations investigations of his cronies?  This doesn’t bode well for a Director of IDNR.  Neither does his involvement in the land development scheme that sought to set aside the endangered status of the rattlesnake in order for the development to take place.

Where were his cries of support for the IDNR in the State Legislature for the past six years as the Department was being dismantled by his crony Rod Blagojevich?

Too little, too late, Mr. Granberg, you had your chance and failed.  Time to move on.”

And I will add that if he had any shred of decency left (after accepting an appointment from a disgraced Governor) he should return the money that he did not earn.  After all, he is the State Legislator who supported the bill that would make what he just did, illegal.  Where are his ethics?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/04 at 06:16 PM

Awesome, now lets get Shelton in our sights and get a real deer biologist in the position instead of a number counter.  I will send my nine year old down to do that.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/04 at 06:40 PM

Jeff please check the pension bump.  I read he had to serve 28 days for the bump to occurr.  I would hate for him to get a 40,000 dollar bump for his golf trail idea.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/04 at 07:20 PM

I’ll give it to Quinn.  He looks like he sticks to his word.  It looks like he has a plan for the DNR.  You can just sense a big change at the DNR and the state.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/04 at 08:08 PM

It’s a start, but if this guy is going to get a pension bump courtesy of an imeached governor one step away from the peninentary, then I thinnk some serious investigation is in order.

He quit the legislature to avoid siding with the governor’s SISTER IN LAW, and then badda boom badda bam he gets bumped to the DNR with 40K a year for the rest of his life FOR 20 DAYS SERVICE?????

quid pro quo….one crook to another?

Maybe Fitzgerald should be taking a VERY HARD look at this GUY for evidence of participating in Blago’s corruption. Maybe this guy belongs in a cell next to Ryan and Blago!!!

If this guy had any regard for ethics he would renounce his claim on the higher pension, and only take what he had earned as a career legislator.

If he doesn’t, I think we should start calling our reps and senators demanding a BLAGO CLEANUP BILL to erase these blemishes from the face of DNR politics.


Write a bill specifically to normalize Granberg’s pension.

I’d call Watson tomorrow, but he just retired, bless his heart :^)

Posted by Henry Holt on 02/04 at 08:41 PM

As for Granbergs pension I have heard three different answers.
An inquiry to the Illinois Pension Board has not been answered. I have the papers for two “Public Information Act” inquiries. One will have to do with the money issue and the other as to whether he actually was ever officially the Director. On the 26th of January he was listed on the IDNR website “Director’s Corner.” as Director. On Monday February 2, Granberg was listed as “Acting Director.” There are several issues involved with the appointment that bear more scrutiny. I am pursueing it for one reason. The Illinois Employees Pension System is listed as the worst funded Pension system for public employees. It is rated as being funded for only 68%. The forty thousand isn’t going to help that a bit.
Here is the way an appoinment such as this is suppose to go to be official.
The Governor makes an appointment and then is suppose to submit this appointment to the Senate for approval. (Blago never submitted Flood to the Senate) At this point I’m not sure that ever happened for Granberg. Second, the Senate must approve the appointment. Our initial thrust to stop the appointment was with the Senate, but of course today’s action took care of that problem.
There is one other issue that I doubt was done. Directors of all agencies appointed by the Governor must take the “Gubernotorial Oath of Office” required by the Illinois Constitution and again I doubt that was done as the Senate never acted on the appointment. It may take a legal action to rule on the validity of his service as Director.
Three different sources gave me three different answers. The first was 26 days, the second was 23 days from a Senator, and the third was his retirement would be based on the last day he worked. This must be what Granberg is basing his assummption the penson with the forty thousand increase is vested.
THIS WAS ONLY ROUND ONE. A NEW DIRECTOR TOMORROW AND THERE ARE OTHER APPOINTMENTS THAT WE NEED TO LOOK AT.
Rep. Brandon Phelps appointment to the Agriculture and Natural Resource committe may be of interest to the deer hunters. PHELP’S CO-SPONSORED A BILL, HB1161 IN 2005 WHICH WOULD HAVE REMOVED ALL LIMITS ON RESIDENT AND NON-RESIDENT ARCHERY DEER PERMITS.
I laughed at this one. He SPONSORED a bill HJR93 which would have created THE SHAWNEE HILLS WINE TRAIL. along route 127 in part of Southern Illinois. Sounds like more fun than a “GOLF TRAIL.” I’LL reserve judgemtn on this appointment until I learn more.  .
No matter their name or where they are from they are still politically motivated. Until we rid the IDNR of political interfence only the names will change.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/04 at 09:04 PM

Phelps also co-sponsored a bill that would have raised the number of gun days from 14 to 21.  He also created a bill that would have added another month to the spring and fall turkey seasons.  And he he thinks that he’s “now in charge of the deer herd”.  Probably doesn’t hurt that his little brother is the DNR’s Legislative Liaison.

The new director will have his work cut out for him.

Posted by KC-IBS on 02/04 at 10:03 PM

Just learned that lawyers for the Ill. Employees Pension System are looking at the Granberg situation. The acting director stated Granberg would get the elevated pension as Director but the lawyers are looking at the fact that he never was confirmed by the Senate to serve as Director.
I heard the same thing as KC concerniing Phelps statement about the deer herd and his little brothers connection to the IDNR.
I’ll throw out a name that might come up in Quinn’s news conference tomorrow. “Marc Miller”

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/04 at 10:28 PM

BRADB, you lost me on that HB1161 which you say would have removed all limits on resident and non-resident archery deer permits??? I’m a resident, and as far as I know it’s still 2 bucks total for the entire hunting season. As for archery, pretty sure theres never been a limit on the # of tags I can go through. Start with 2 tags,kill 2 deer, go buy 2 more tags and so forth….Not sure about non-resident??

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/04 at 10:28 PM

Phelps getting his little brother tagged as the IDNR Liason is shameless nepotism. If this is an IDNR appointment, then this is exactly the kind of appointment that Quinn’s staff needs to inveatigate.

What are this man’s qualifications?

I SALUTE PAT QUINN!

Power back to the people who pay taxes! Things should be looking up for the comon man at the IDNR.

Posted by Henry Holt on 02/04 at 11:35 PM

trixy42,
I understand what you are saying and should have explained I’ll repeat exactly what was stated on the brief. Phelps Co-Sponsored the bill along with several other familiar Reps, which was Sponsored by Rep. LISA DUGAN. You can read it under Phelps House Page. I tried to paste it here but it wouldn’t take.
HB1161: SYNOPSIS AS INTRODUCED FILED 2-8-05
“AMENDS THE WILDLIFE CODE THAT THERE SHALL NOT BE A LIMIT ON THE NUMBER OF RESIDENT OR NON-RESIDENT ARCHERY DEER HUNTING PERMITS. EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY.”

What the bill would have done is stop the IDNR from limiting deer permits by administrative order if at some point in the future they wanted or needed to adjust arhcery harvest in a particular area OR REDUCE NON-RESIDENT TAGS. The current system is close to that with a 25,000 cap on non-residents. At least without that legislation in place the IDNR can cut back the out of state permits without Legislative action.
The bill died without action on 1-9-07.
Rep. Dugan is from the 79th District which is in the Kankakee area.
This is only a guess but it sounds like an initiative of the Farm Bureau or the Insurance Lobby.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/05 at 07:15 AM

BRADB, THANKS FOR THE INSIGHT….

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/05 at 08:18 AM

I think Quinn is the shot in the arm this state needs right now, not just the DNR.  Imagine a governor that actually goes out and TALKS to the state representatives… what a novel idea!!!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/05 at 08:20 AM

I APOLIGIZE FOR FURNISHING INFO THAT IS IN THE ABOVE STORY. PSO ORGINALLY RAN A STORY BY JEFF LAMPE WHICH DID NOT CONTAIN THE PENSION INFO ETC. PSO THEN POSTED THIS COLUMN BY RYAN KETIH IN IT’S PLACE. I POSTED TO THE ORIGINAL STORY WITHOUT RE-READING WHAT I WAS POSTING TO.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/05 at 08:45 AM

I don’t have an opinion about Granburg, however, his idea for a southern Illinois golf trail is a really good idea.  This could bring a lot of golfers and introduce the beauty of the area to a lot of people who might not otherwise visit the area.  This is a proven concept in other areas and could bring much needed income to the area.

Posted by Robt on 02/05 at 09:58 AM

Great news! Maybe someday we will have someone in office that actaully values our IDNR! Ya right!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/05 at 10:44 AM

Robt,
While not being said by most the “golf trail” itself is not the issue. The issue is the establishment of a “golf trail” should not be from the IDNR. It needs to come from TOURSIM OR COMMERCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPEMENT. Both of those agencies would not support it according to Granberg’s own statement. Commerce even did a study of the issue 2 or 3 years ago. That was done as a result of Granberg sponsoring a House Resolution requiring them to study the issue.
Right now, with IDNR staffing down by 25% or more and money down even more, is no time for the IDNR to be wasting money on what appears to be a dead issue to everyone in Springfield with the exception of Granberg.
Hope that clarifies things a little.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/05 at 10:59 AM

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