Monday, January 12, 2009

About Heather's Stains

No she didn't, yes she did. Illinois State Sen. Heather Steans (actually pronounced "stains") has a bit of a stink about her. Something doesn't smell right. Steans (actually pronounced "stains") claims that she was never really interested in political office until Carol Ronen resigned her 7th District Illinois Senate seat in January, 2008. However, Steans' own poorly managed, badly written web site contradicts her claims of political innocence. As the Illinois State Senate, of which Steans is a member, gets ready to try Gov. Blagojevich for high offenses, Steans is doing back flips in an effort to convince us that she - like all the others in that cesspool - were surprised and dismayed to learn about Blago's bad behavior when he was arrested on December 9. Like Sergeant Schultz in Hogan's Heroes, Heather Steans professes to know nothing. Steans knows a lot, however, and for her to sit in judgment of Rod Blagojevich is the height of ironic hypocrisy. Let's pause here for a brief backgrounder. Ask Heather Steans and she'll insist that she was not thinking about running for state senate until sometime in 2007. Steans (actually pronounced "stains") was essentially selected - hand picked - by the local Democrat Machine to fill the 7th Senatorial District seat after it was vacated by Ronen upon her retirement (that's a whole bowl of potpourri by itself). It was Ronen, in fact, who personally asked Steans to run to replace her. Steans, it is said, was "very flattered." Carol Ronen's resignation took effect Jan. 7, 2008. The Chicago Reader summed up the events leading to Ronen's resignation: On October 22, [2007] Seventh District state senator Carol Ronen sent out an e-mail with word that she was retiring from her seat on January 7 [2008]. "I am announcing this now so that anyone who wishes to run for the office will be able to file petitions for the February 5, 2008 primary election by the November 5th deadline," she wrote. (Source) Too late, really, because by the time that e-mail went out Steans was already the Chosen One. In fact, Steans was appointed on February 10, 2008 to replace retiring Senator Ronen. Source: Cook-Witter Report, Vol. 23, No. 2, March 2008 (PDF) Everybody else, anyone without connections, that is, was effectively locked out of the process. The Reader nicely presented the evidence of that (emphasis added): Within a day, Heather Steans, a prominent north-side Democratic fund-raiser, announced that she was running and had canvassers rounding up the 1,000 signatures needed to make the ballot. Ronen, who did not return calls for comment, quickly endorsed her. Jan Schakowsky--who plays a curiously active role in the 48th Ward, where Ronen is Democratic committeeman--chimed in with her support. Within a day! That's a pretty quick decision, and a big one at that, for a self-proclaimed political innocent to have made. Nevermind the roughly 348 contributions, totaling over $750,000 that Steans husban Smith have made, $200,000 of which went to Blagojevich's campaigns. Furthermore, to already have a small army of a thousand people gathering signatures for her asks us to suspend our disbelief and pretend that they just appeared out of nowhere, as though none of them were contacted and heavily coordinated for days or weeks by Steans and her supposedly yet-to-be-formed campaign committee. I've worked on campaigns, and it's difficult enough to find a dozen people to pass out flyers let alone a thousnd to patiently get ballot signatures. As for Schakowsky, she shares office space at 5533 N. Broadway with Steans, Ronen (who is now Democrat State Central Committeeman), 48th Ward Alderman Mary Ann Smith and State Rep. Harry Osterman. It's a one-stop shop for influence. It should be noted that Schakowsky shares another one-stop influence shop (photo), up in the 49th Ward, with Alderman Joe Moore, Democrat Committeeman David Fagus, and Cook County Commish Larry Suffredin. Schakowsky's tentacles are long are far reaching. Now, finally, we get to the coup de grace. A full page on the Steans (pronounced "stains") web site, titled "About Heather," is devoted to piece of public relations fluff, dated October 9, 2006 and written by "Administrator," telling us that "Heather Steans brings outstanding experience to her candidacy for the Democratic nomination for 7th District State Senator." What an odd thing to write for somebody who was "surprised" to be invited to run for that position a year later. Perhaps it was a Freudian slip for Steans to post it. October 9, 2006, the date of "About Heather," was posted a full year before Carol Ronen supposedly surprised Steans (pronounced "stains") with the flattering suggestion of running for her soon-to-be-vacated seat. To cut to the chase, Steans (pronounced "stains") was lusting after the senate seat for a long, long time. Well before Ronen publicly announced her intentions to resign, Steans had probably been fully briefed on what was to be by her chum Carol Ronen. Did Steans' huge campaign contributions play any part in her sudden selection? Patrick Fitzgerald might know the answer to that, but we can only speculate. The full text, then, of the Freudian web page: Written by Administrator Monday, 09 October 2006 07:49 Heather Steans brings outstanding experience to her candidacy for the Democratic nomination for 7th District State Senator. An advocate for good public policy, Heather’s professional career has focused on government finance, economic development and education reform efforts. She has: Managed the budgets of state agencies in Illinois and Wisconsin where she improved customer service and reduced costs. Developed the Chicago Public Schools’ multi-year strategic plan that produced education reforms. Directed urban economic development initiatives for the Civic Committee. Successfully launched programs to increase housing and asset development and promote job growth in Chicago. In addition, Heather promotes strong community forums and child development initiatives as a member of the Boards of WBEZ Public Radio and the Erickson Institute. She also is a past chair of the Donor’s Forum. Heather received her Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Urban Studies from Princeton University and earned a Masters degree in Public Policy from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government where she serves on the Dean’s Alumni Leadership Council. Heather and her husband, Leo Smith moved to the Lakewood-Balmoral neighborhood 14 years ago to raise their three children, Ryan, Sam and Abby. It is curious, by the way, that Ronen's Illinois General Assembly bio still shows her as a member. "Years served: 1993 - 2000 (House); 2000 - Present (Senate)" hardly indicates that she resigned nearly a year ago. RELATED: Chicago Reader The Works: The resignation of state senator Carol ... Uptown Update: State Senator Carol Ronen Gets 'Golden Parachute' Steans swamps Elder for Carol Ronen's senate seat Subscribe to Chicago News Bench