One of governor´s trustee selections not assured

SPRINGFIELD - Chicago attorney Robert Sperling's future as a University of Illinois trustee is far from assured, the head of the Senate executive appointments committee said Wednesday.

?I have spoken with Mr. Sperling on several occasions and ... I did kind of recommend to him that he not plan on this being in his future,? said state Sen. Rickey Hendon.

Sperling did not return a call for comment Wednesday.

Tom Schafer, a spokesman for Gov. Rod Blagojevich, said he was not aware of any plans to withdraw Sperling's nomination and name someone in his place.

Blagojevich named Sperling, Chicago attorney Devon Bruce and Niranjan Shah, CEO of a Chicago engineering and construction management firm, to the University of Illinois Board of Trustees back in February.

All three have been serving in that capacity since then, but so far only Shah's appointment has been confirmed by the Democrat-controlled Senate.

Hendon has repeatedly refused to call Sperling's nomination for a vote. Without committee OK, the full Senate cannot vote on a confirmation.

Hendon said he found Sperling ?to be a really nice guy, very bright and intelligent,? but he said he wants to see more diversity on the board of trustees, especially a woman or an African-American from Chicago's west side, where the university has facilities.

Hendon said as yet the governor has given him no indications that he will change his mind about the nominees, but he said he believes Blagojevich will be flexible.

?The only one that I am looking to see changed is Mr. Sperling, and that's no reflection on him whatsoever,? he said. ?I really liked him, but he's just caught in the quagmire here.?

Hendon said he was prepared to call Bruce's nomination for a vote Wednesday, but Senate Republicans asked that the vote be delayed so they could question him first.

Since the board of trustees is an unpaid position, nominees only have to appear in person before the committee if they are specifically requested to do so.

?The Republicans have a concern about Mr. Bruce, and I gave them the opportunity to hold him because they have rights as members of this committee,? Hendon said. ?So we are holding Mr. Bruce. Whether he comes out or not is to be seen. But no other Democrats had a problem with Mr. Bruce, so that's why we were moving him forward. I have other Democrats with a problem with Mr. Sperling, other than myself.?

Bruce could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

You can reach Kate Clements at (217) 782-2486 or via e-mail at

Sections (2):News, State
Categories (2):News, Other
Location (3):Chicago, Springfield, State

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