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Granberg’s tenure may be short but lucrative

January 22, 2009 at 06:34 PM

AP Political Writer

SPRINGFIELD (AP)—Kurt Granberg’s tenure as the state’s conservation chief might be short, but it will be lucrative.

The former state representative started work Thursday as director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, a move that will likely boost his eventual retirement pension by $40,000 a year.

Granberg was appointed by an impeached Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who faces a Senate trial over his ouster starting Monday.

A 55-year-old lawmaker from Carlyle who spent 22 years in the General Assembly, Granberg did not seek re-election last fall. He resigned his seat before the House voted to impeach Blagojevich, who is charged with mismanagement and political corruption.

If Blagojevich is removed, Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn would take over as governor and could replace agency heads such as Granberg immediately. Quinn would not say whether he’d replace Granberg. But he lamented Blagojevich’s “parade of political appointments” to DNR , including Granberg.

As a retired legislator, Granberg was eligible for an annual pension of $73,000, or 85 percent of his $85,900 legislative salary, according to an Associated Press analysis of state records.

With his new job, pension rules allow him to base retirement pay on his $133,273 DNR salary, for a $113,280 paycheck. It will increase 3 percent per year after age 60.

Granberg, whom Blagojevich appointed a week after the House impeached him, said he didn’t take the job for the benefit bump, but to promote state parks and natural areas and use them to fire up a lagging economy, particularly in southern Illinois.

“I’m not in it about the money,” Granberg said. “I enjoy the public service and I enjoy the challenges.”

Illinois needs a natural resources professional with experience in the field, Quinn said Thursday.

“A retired politician is not what the people of Illinois want or need in such a sensitive conservation position,” Quinn s aid.

Granberg, who needs Senate confirmation to stay in the job, sees no reason he can’t work with Quinn.

“We both want to work for the people, get things done for the people,” Granberg said. “I’ve always had a pretty good reputation in the Legislature, both chambers, both parties, and I think I could be helpful to the lieutenant governor if and when he is governor.”

The agency’s first director under Blagojevich was another former House Democrat, Joel Brunsvold of Milan. He presided over deep budget cuts to the agency, which oversees natural areas and wildlife and regulates fishing and hunting. He resigned in December 2005; at the helm since has been acting Director Sam Flood, who started in Blagojevich’s patronage office.

“A parade of political appointments to such an important public health agency is disappointing,” Quinn said. “We need to address that.”

Blagojevich spokeswoman Katie Ridgway said the governor named Granberg because he will wor k with all sides “to determine the best way to preserve and cultivate Illinois’ natural resources while understanding our state’s current budget constraints.”

“Director Granberg is in this for the long haul and looks forward to a long tenure at the department,” Ridgway said.

Granberg served with Blagojevich in the House and generally has supported him as governor. His campaign fund donated $15,000 to Blagojevich during his 2002 campaign. Granberg said he had planned to donate that money to whomever the Democratic nominee was that fall.

He confirmed he quit his seat early to avoid the impeachment tally, but only because he was tired of Democratic bickering, not because he feared the wrong vote could cost him the DNR appointment.

Granberg, a longtime advocate of conservation and environmental issues, is among a dwindling number of legislators who can take advantage of sweetened pensions. A 1995 reform limits anyone elected in 1994 or later to their Gene ral Assembly pension, even if they take a higher-paid state job afterward.

Granberg said he sponsored that legislation and wanted that provision added to stop the abuse of ex-lawmakers cashing in on short-term stints in new jobs. But he wouldn’t turn away his pension because he plans to earn it.

“I’m sure I’ll accept it, but I have no intention of drawing it, at least for the foreseeable future,” Granberg said. “I have no intention of quitting. There’s a lot to be done.”

State records filed earlier this week show Granberg took $50,000 out of his campaign fund Oct. 6 for personal use. A 1999 state law allows officeholders to spend campaign money they had in their accounts on June 30, 1998, for personal needs if they pay taxes on it.

Granberg said he initially intended to take money from the fund to pay off his car, which he used primarily for work as a legislator, but took a bigger chunk when the stock market tumbled because he needed cash to make impr ovements to his home. He said he would consider replacing the money later.

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

Hopefully, Quinn will fire this tool as soon as he is sworn in.  Granberg, another Blago Democrat.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/22 at 06:44 PM

I don’t know what disgusts me more, the fat pension that Blago obviously promised Granberg via appointment to the position, or the way Granberg acts like the pension is just incidental, and thinks that we are stupid enough to believe that.
We will all pay for this clown to live waaaaaay better than most of us ever will.
Greens fees anyone??

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/22 at 07:33 PM

Talk about not having any ethics, Granberg is the one who sponsored the legislation to limit retiring legislators from free-loading off the State jobs at the end of their terms to avoid what he is doing himself.  If Granberg is serious about being a strong advocate for the IDNR, and he, indeed, “bristled at the notion his appointment is tainted, “then why doesn’t Mr. Granberg forgo his $133,000 per year salary to prove to the citizens of Illinois that he is taking the position as Director of the Department of Natural Resources solely to perform a public service to the citizens of Illinois.  What better way to show that his appointment is not tainted by the stench of “pay to play” politics as usual in Springfield. The $85,903 he earned as a legislator should ensure his standard of living at its current level, and after all, even President Obama mentioned in his speech the other day, that public service is a priviledge not to be taken lightly.  Let him prove his sincerety to “serve” the sportsmen and sportswomen of Illinois by not letting dollar signs get in the way of public service.  Let him show his detractors that he did take the job merely to ensure his state pension is based on that higher salary by serving even a short term at DNR and retiring to obscurity…$40,000/yr richer, thanks to his good friend Rod Blagojevich.
Let him serve as Director at his current rate of pay or not at all.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/22 at 08:06 PM

“Public Service”?....more like “RAPE” the public….a natural for Illinois politics I think!
Fire’em all and lets start over with all NEW blood ELECTED by The People and Chosen by The People!

How Sad!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/22 at 08:06 PM

$50,000 out of his campaign fund for personal use!  To pay off his car and for home improvements.  How can this happen?  Then he has the balls to say he’ll consider paying it back! 

What campaign fund?  He quit his job so he wouldn’t have to deal with the impeachment process.  This is the guy who holds the fate of our natural resources in his greedy little hands.  He’s just another member of the Blago-nation.  A true waste of human flesh just like his appointer.  It’s sad we have to breath the same air as people who will look you right in the eyes and lie to your face.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/23 at 08:38 AM

Why is he allowed to start work without being confirmed?

Posted by KC-IBS on 01/23 at 07:14 PM

K.C. are you kidding?  When the president of the Senate says you’re a “shoe in” you’ve got the confirmation in the bag.  It’s just politics as usual in Springfield.  Some things never change!

Here’s one for you….what makes the Senate members voting for Blagojevich’s ouster any better than he is?

I love the quote from Granberg: ““I’m not in it about the money,” Granberg said. “I enjoy the public service and I enjoy the challenges.”  Yeah, it’s not about the money, right!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/23 at 11:32 PM

Let’s take the politics out of the DNR!That is the only solution to OUR problems in the DNR!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/24 at 07:27 AM

DNR aside, if you want to know why the state is broke, specifically the pension system, the above is a perfect example. This goes on in every agency at every level. IDOT, schools, universities, corrections,veterans affairs, etc. Its done by both sides. They constantly reward their “friends” with a cush job for their final 2 years, like a hog put out to fatten up. Since their pension is based ion final 2 years of service, you see how much more money they get. This goes on every year with dozens of appointments.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/24 at 07:35 AM

The whole deal with this guy makes me wanna PUKE!!!Another one of blagos scumbag buddies…

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/25 at 07:27 PM

WHITETAILFREAK   Is that you Doug?  JUSTHUNT1 has been looking for you.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/26 at 08:12 AM

Yeah its me buddy, I cant get into bowsite!!!Need help with my puter!!!!Email me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/26 at 08:30 AM

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/26 at 02:31 PM

Yeah Bowsite has been cleaning its act up lately.  A lot of us have that problem, and it doesn’t have anything to do with your computer, Whitetailfreak!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/27 at 02:42 PM

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