When you’ve seen 22 years of public service from a man, it simply would be wrong to allow him to leave without offering a hearty slap on the back and heartfelt thank you. Our man of the hour is Illinois State Sen. James Clayborne, the No. 2 Democrat in his chamber but No. 1 in our hearts.
Let’s review his service:
• Clayborne cared about smashing the glass ceiling for women in state jobs. He on two occasions took two different female friends to meet President Obama at White House receptions and both women later got state jobs. One who posted photos of herself hugging Clayborne and on the beach with him in Jamaica got a $72,000 salary in 2011 as a safety liaison for the Illinois Department of Transportation. The other female friend got an $86,000-a-year job on the Prisoner Review Board.
• Clayborne cared about highways, making sure the Illinois Department of Transportation had plenty of workers. A federal lawsuit on Illinois patronage hiring detailed how Clayborne forced four hires on IDOT, including a clerk handed an engineer job and a cell phone salesman hired on an “emergency” basis.
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• Clayborne cared about his fellow lawmakers in 2009, serving on the General Assembly pension board. There he voted to give former state Rep. Kurt Granberg an extra $40,000 a year in retirement for a state job Granberg held for just three weeks. Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a.k.a. federal inmate No. 40892-424, gave Granberg the job on his way out of office and Clayborne voted to let him keep the $40K atop his legislative retirement for a grand total pension of $116,000 a year.
• Clayborne was for school consolidation, at least he was in 2008 when his son, then 9, threatened another student with scissors and was suspended. First he tried to force a ballot referendum to merge his son’s school district, Harmony-Emge District 175, with Signal Hill District 181. Then he introduced a bill narrowing the definition of a weapon that did not include scissors.
James Clayborne was a man who understood public service, and the public served him well.
Let’s just hope that as he exits the statehouse, the closing door doesn’t smack him in the fanny.