Tom Kacich: Frerichs sets staff for new office


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New state Treasurer Mike Frerichs' key staff, announced Tuesday, is heavy on young people, Democrats and University of Illinois alums.

The Champaign Democrat named Jay Rowell his deputy treasurer. Rowell was director of the Illinois Department of Employment Security in the Quinn administration. A former political director for the Illinois Senate Democrats, Rowell graduated from Loyola University's School of Law.

Frerichs' chief of staff is Justin Cajindos, a UI-Urbana graduate — and a former president of the College Democrats — who most recently was a deputy chief of staff to Quinn.

Keith Horton is Frerichs' general counsel. He had been a deputy general counsel for Quinn. He earned his law degree from the UI College of Law, where he was editor-in-chief of the Elder Law Journal.

Dave Clarkin, who worked in the Frerichs election campaign this fall, is deputy chief of staff of public affairs in the treasurer's office. Clarkin has worked at the Department of Children and Family Services and also was on the Illinois House Democratic staff. A native of Edwardsville, he has a bachelor's degree from the UI.

Zach Koutsky, who managed the Frerichs election campaign, will be a senior adviser to the new treasurer. Koutsky has a master's degree in urban planning and policy from the UI-Chicago.

Rodrigo Garcia will be Frerichs' chief investment officer. He has worked in bank supervision and regulation at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and in global wealth management at Morgan Stanley & Co. He is a Marine Corps veteran, having served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Garcia holds an undergraduate degree in finance from Northeastern Illinois University and two post-graduate degrees, one in business administration from the UI-Chicago and the other in public policy from Northwestern University.

Paris Ervin, a former television reporter and spokeswoman at the Illinois Department of Transportation, is Frerichs' director of communications. She's a graduate of the University of Illinois-Springfield and is working toward a master's in public administration.

Catherine Shannon, a former Quinn administration official, is director of legislative affairs for Frerichs. A graduate of Northern Illinois University, she also was a lobbyist for the Illinois Federation of Teachers and the Illinois AFL-CIO.

Julian Federle, a former deputy director at the state Department of Employment Security, is Frerichs' chief of policy and programs.

Scott Bennett's raise

Newly appointed 52nd District state Sen. Scott Bennett got almost a $5,000 raise in moving from the Champaign County state's attorney's office to the Legislature.

As a prosecutor, the Champaign Democrat was to get a salary of $63,000 in the current fiscal year, which began on Jan. 1.

As a legislator, he will earn the base salary of $67,836.

Rauner's pay cut

Gov. Bruce Rauner said during his inaugural address that he "will follow through on my pledge to reduce my own salary to one dollar and decline all benefits." In the past, he has said he would not enroll in the state pension system.

Of course, that's relatively easy to do when you're worth close to a billion dollars, as Rauner is said to be.

Still, it will save the state more than $175,000 — $177,411 to be exact — for Rauner to restrict his pay to a buck a year.

Incidentally, Frerichs earns $135,669 as treasurer, the same amount paid to the state comptroller and lieutenant governor. The attorney general and secretary of state each get $156,541 a year.

'Government union bosses'

A Raunerism that was prevalent in his primary campaign but disappeared in his general election campaign — when he needed the votes of Democrats and independents — was back in his inaugural address Monday: "government union bosses."

"Illinoisans see insider deals and cronyism rewarded. They see lobbyists writing bills for special interests and taxpayers being left with the tab," Rauner said. "They see government union bosses negotiating sweetheart deals across the table from governors they've spent tens of millions to help elect."

Rauner has never identified which union bosses he was referring to, but the ones who have negotiated deals with the state would seem to include AFSCME and the SEIU.

In one notorious incident in 2010, former Gov. Quinn brought his budget director, Davis Vaught, to a political endorsement session with AFSCME. It was during a period when Quinn was trying to negotiate cuts in union contracts.

During his time as governor, Quinn received $5.4 million from various Service Employees International Union groups and $126,220 from AFSCME Council 31.

Davis speaks of Topinka

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, who had developed a good relationship with the late state Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, was selected to lead a moment of silence for her as part of Monday's inaugural ceremonies.

"It's very bittersweet for me to be standing here today because there's somebody, our friend, that we all know and miss who should be on this stage today. With her abounding energy and humor, Judy Baar Topinka would have made this day even better," he said. "As elected officials, let us take a lesson from Judy, that it's less about us but it's more about the people we represent."

Final praise for Quinn

In his inaugural speech Monday, Secretary of State Jesse White, who was sworn in for a fifth term, took the opportunity to offer one last bit of thanks to outgoing Gov. Pat Quinn, a fellow Democrat.

"As governor, he has always put people first. As governor, he inherited a mess and I'm proud to say he took the tough stand to bring honor back to Illinois," White said to polite applause from the crowd.

Rauner, however, did not applaud the line.

Tom Kacich is a News-Gazette editor and columnist. His column appears on Wednesdays and Sundays. He can be reached at 217-351-5221 or at


Tom Kacich is a columnist and the author of Tom's Mailbag at The News-Gazette. His column appears Sundays. His email is, and you can follow him on Twitter (@tkacich).

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