Republicans want quick hearing on Gill appointment

Republicans want quick hearing on Gill appointment

SPRINGFIELD — A group of central Illinois Senate Republicans is asking for an expedited confirmation hearing on the nomination of Dr. David Gill to be assistant director at the Illinois Department of Public Health, although it seems unlikely they'll get it.

Gill, who earlier this year said he was considering running for the Democratic nomination for Congress in the 13th Congressional District again, got the appointment earlier this month from Gov. Pat Quinn on the same day that former Madison County Chief Judge Ann Callis said she hoped to be the Democratic nominee in the district that reaches from Champaign-Urbana southwest to Madison County.

Senate Democrats held confirmation hearings Monday morning on a number of Quinn nominations, but Gill's was not among them.

"This is a blatant attempt by the majority party to hide a controversial appointee from the taxpayers," said Sen. Darin LaHood, R-Peoria. "We have serious questions about the timing of Doctor Gill's appointment. More importantly, today is the last scheduled meeting of the Senate Executive Appointments Committee, so he will be in place until at least the fall before a public-legislative vetting."

Sen. Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington, said the confirmation hearing could end up being delayed until next winter.

"The governor has a 60-legislative day window to make appointments that we have an opportunity to review," he said. "Because of the timing of this appointment, the confirmation could be delayed until March of 2014. We think that flies in the face of our oversight function."

Republicans attempted to portray Gill's appointment to the $127,000-a-year position as a political maneuver to clear the way for Callis.

Gill was the Democratic nominee in the district last November, losing to U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, by 1,002 votes in the 14-county district.

"We think the facts leading up to the appointment suggest that this was a purely political decision by the governor, that being that Doctor Gill had expressed interest in running for Congress," Barickman said. "I also thought it was odd that when Doctor Gill was asked about this position, he said to The News-Gazette that — and I am paraphrasing — that he wasn't clear on what the position entailed. So I'd like to know what he anticipates the job being if we're going to appoint him to it."

"This doesn't pass the smell test," said Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet. "Frankly the check and balance here would be a hearing. That way we'd find out when were you first called? When did you get the information? Because a few weeks before this you were still planning on running for the nomination for Congress, and then, boom, on the same day ...

"We want a hearing or we want the appointment withdrawn."

But Rikeesha Phelon, a spokeswoman for Senate President John Cullerton, said, "We don't intend to change the regular scheduling and appointment process for the nominee."

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Joe American wrote on May 21, 2013 at 8:05 am

Not bad payola for running repeatedly and going down in flames for his party.  I'd take one for the team for that kind of a sweet hand-out, too.

bluegrass wrote on May 21, 2013 at 2:05 pm

Now wait just a minute!!!!  We need to get the good Dr. Gill into this vaguely defined position so he can get to work straight away.  This Assistant to the Directors position is extremely vital to the people of Illinois, and if it goes unfilled the entire health system in Illinois could collapse.  Babies could go undelivered.  Noses potentially unwiped.  Do we as society really want people limping all over the state with various untreated strains, sprains, twists, and turns with no one to turn to but an empty desk at the Assistant to the Director of some such state department?  It's an outrage.  Call your representatives today, and you remind them that this is Illinois, and if the Bumbler in Chief agrees to pay someone off with ridiculously overpaid, useless, undefined administrative black hole position in Springfield, them by gum they have a duty to get that man out of that small town Emergency Room, and into a leather desk chair!