Springfield – Kurt Granberg: in? Rod Blagojevich: out? Pat
Federal habitat funds: in, out and back in again?
The state’s sportsmen and women literally need a scorecard these
days to keep track of moves that affect DNR.
Granberg, a retired lawmaker from Carlyle, was named DNR
director on Jan. 16, replacing Sam Flood, who’d served as acting
director for about three years. Although the appointment still has
to be confirmed by the Senate, Granberg – his appointment has been
widely criticized by hunters and anglers for his lack of experience
– will be earning a salary of $133,000.
Meanwhile, as this issue of Illinois Outdoor News went to
press,_Illinois was in real danger of losing federal funding
because of last year’s “sweep” of habitat funds by Gov.
Blagojevich’s office. In all, $16 million in federal funds for fish
and wildlife projects is at stake if $9.25 million “swept” from six
funds that receive money from hunting and fishing licenses and
related fees is not restored.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had given Illinois until Feb.
2 to return the money.
House Bill 36, which would restore the money and prevent future
fund sweeps, was introduced Jan. 14. But the impeachment trial of
Blagojevich delayed action on the bill.
Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn formally asked the USFWS to give Illinois
more time to put the funds back in their proper place.
In a letter dated Jan. 22 from Quinn to Thomas O’Melius,
regional director of the USFWS, Illinois requested a 90-day
“Given the unfortunate and unprecedented situation regarding the
impeachment of our current governor and the timing of the
impeachment proceedings, it is unlikely that the appropriations
bill will be signed before the Feb. 2 deadline,” Quinn wrote.
As of Jan. 29, Illinois had not received an official response
from the USFWS.
The state’s hunters and anglers seem equally concerned with the
appointment of Granberg, a noted ally of Blagojevich.
Lawmakers have also voiced skepticism.
“We have to receive a formal announcement from the governor that
he wants the appointment to be confirmed,” Sen. John O. Jones,
R-Mount Vernon, said.
“He doesn’t have to do that at any point, that’s how Sam Flood
has been the acting director for so long.
“Also, we’ve been conducting an impeachment trial in the Senate,
and there isn’t an appointments committee formed yet. We don’t know
who will be assigned to the committee and the schedule for the
committee hasn’t been made. The regular session doesn’t start until
Feb. 5, and that’s when the committees are named. Then it takes
time to formalize a schedule.”
By the time the Senate confirmation of Granberg approved – or
disapproved – he already will have served long enough to ensure a
$40,000 increase in his state pension – another fact that has irked
“His increase in pension is more than most of the people in my
district earn in a year,” Jones said.
As a state representative, Granberg was earning $85,000
annually, and after 20 years was eligible to receive 85 percent of
his annual income in retirement pension. Each of the two years
Granberg has served over the 20 years entitled him to a 3 percent
annual cost of living increase which means he would receive 91
percent of his annual income of the last salary amount he was
earning in a state position.