• Timing of hearing on prison chief called “peculiar”

    by  • March 12, 2014 • News

    KURT ERICKSONĀ  The Southern Springfield Bureau

    SPRINGFIELD — A Senate panel charged with vetting Gov. Pat Quinn’s appointees has scheduled a hearing on at least two controversial nominees for the day before next week’s primary election.

    The Democrat-led panel is scheduled to hear testimony on Illinois Department of Corrections Director S.A. “Tony”

    IDOC Director S.A. "Tony" Godinez

    IDOC Director S.A. “Tony” Godinez

    Godinez and Illinois Department of Agriculture Director Bob Flider, along with three dozen other potential appointees March 17 in Chicago.

    The timing and location of the 10 a.m. hearing were called “peculiar” by the ranking Republican on the Senate Executive Appointments Committee, state Sen. Tim Bivins, R-Dixon.

    Bivins suggested the hearing may have been scheduled in an attempt to rush the controversial nominees through the appointment process with generating attention.

    “You create that appearance, I suppose,” he said.

    Godinez has been under fire from some Republican lawmakers for over a year in connection with the closure of a handful of prisons, a spike in violence behind bars and a serious overcrowding problem.

    During the height of the fight over closing the super-max facility in Tamms and the all-female prison in Dwight, Godinez also drew complaints for temporarily banning the media from touring prisons.

    Flider, meanwhile, is a former Democratic lawmaker from Mount Zion who was appointed the state’s top agriculture chief after he switched his position on raising income taxes and voted in favor of the governor’s plan to raise taxes by 67 percent.

    In addition to having the hearing away from Springfield and while voters are more focused on Tuesday’s election, some members of the committee may be completing some last-minute campaigning.

    State Sen. Kirk Dillard, for example, is running for governor and may have to alter his plans to attend the session, said spokesman Wes Bleed.

    “I don’t know how it will affect things,” Bleed said.

    Bivins said he has asked committee Chairman Antonio Munoz, D-Chicago, to reschedule the hearing.

    Munoz could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.