Another Tale of Government Corruption: Quincy, IL Edition

When John Spring was campaigning for re-election as mayor of Quincy, Illinois in the spring of 2009, his primary selling point to the citizens of Quincy was that he had close, personal relationships with people in Washington D.C. (especially Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin, D-Illinois and his old high school football teammate, U.S. Rep Phil Hare, D-Rock Island) and he could deliver the goods for the many pie in the sky projects he had in mind for the city.

bribe

Spring used a popular former mayor, Chuck Scholz, in his campaign commercials along with the head of the supposedly non-partisan local economic development arm, the Great River Economic Development Foundation.

Spring won re-election by less than 800 votes over a Republican whose lone political experience consisted of a couple of terms on the Adams County, Illinois Board.

So what did those people get for supporting Spring as heavily as they did?

Well, Durbin, who has funneled Spring with thousands of dollars in campaign contributions and staff support during his elections, got to see one of his protégé’s get a nice little $5,000 a month lobbying fee from the city over the past few years. The firm, Michael Alexander and Associates of Chicago, has been paid the money to lobby…Durbin, and other Washington types.

City officials say Alexander’s fees (which was handed out in a no-bid manner and without a vote of the Quincy City Council) have been well worth it as he helped the city garner about $800,000 in grant money and will provide further assistance in future funds for Quincy’s proposed multi-million dollar plan to put hydroelectric power plants on Locks and Dams along the Mississippi River.

Is that what the founding fathers had in mind? That one governing body should be using the public’s money to buy access to another governing body? That’s really how it’s supposed to work?

No, but it’s The Chicago Way and Quincy is trending more Chicago by the day.

It gets better. The former mayor, Scholz, is actually a lobbyist with Alexander’s Chicago firm, which now has several Quincy clients, many of the not-for-profit ilk. But it is the city government, where Scholz had his salary nearly double during his 12-year mayoral tenure and which will continue to pay him a handsome pension into his golden years, that gets to continue providing him with a backdoor paycheck .

It’s important to note that at no point did anyone in the city administration bring up the former mayor’s connection with this lobbying firm. As a matter of fact, the city administration never publicly admitted to anyone they had been paying Alexander’s firm until Monday.

Quincy’s mayor ran on a platform of having relationships with people in order to make the city a better place to live.

He just didn’t tell the voters they were going to have to pay a little bit more for those relationships.

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