Quinn's Downstate Drought Trip Was Less Than Admirable

Prairie Gleanings

In most publications, Quinn's visit to southern Illinois came off as a huge success. Here's what really went down.

Published on: July 17, 2012
Yesterday, I drove down to Waltonville to see Illinois Governor Pat Quinn discuss the severe drought that’s devastating much of the state. An hour later, I felt like Linus standing in the middle of a pumpkin patch, albeit more like a sweet-corn patch in 100-degree-F heat.

Here’s how it went down. The Illinois Farm Bureau announced it would be hosting Quinn to tour some sad-looking corn fields in Jefferson County. That’s right, he was leaving the confines of Chicago to move amongst the southern Illinoisans.

The southern Illinoisans were anxiously awaiting his arrival. A line of around 30 picketers flanked the entrance to the farm. Most carried signs relating to Quinn’s ordered closing of Tamms Correctional Center and Murray Developmental Center.

I was there at 1 p.m. Walking up, I ran into Mike Orso, IFB’s director of news and communications. Orso relayed that the governor would be stopping by, then a caravan would leave to go to an undisclosed location, where he would speak in the middle of one of the several corn fields he would tour. What?

Orso relayed that he was concerned about security issues relating to the protestors. Looking back at the line of protestors, I saw what likely constituted about seven to eight southern Illinois families. They were mothers, fathers and children, quietly holding picket signs. It was not an angry mob with pitchforks situation.

After hanging out for another hour, cars started to leave the premises. I followed, and then realized they were going every which way. There was no organized caravan.

The following day, several sources within IFB confirmed that Quinn’s team called ahead and moved his arrival to one of the several clandestine locations. The big media players (Associated Press and numerous television stations) made it somehow. Being part of the farm press, I didn’t get the memo.

I Went to See Gov Quinn and All I Got Was This Lousy Blog

MUCH ADO: After waiting an hour for Governor Quinn, I decided to take some photos of drought-damaged corn in Jefferson County. The pic would have looked a lot better with a concerned Quinn in the field talking about the devastation.

I want to reiterate that IFB was not to blame for this snafu. They’re in the difficult situation of maintaining a working relationship with Quinn’s office, while being made to look like fools when he disappears.

Taking a line from Monday Night Football, to Quinn I say, “C’Mon man!” To make a production out of visiting southern Illinois, then giving us a snub job and catering to big media…that just reeks of Chicago politics. Those picketers were well-behaved families. They deserved better.

Oh, and guess what? The protesters found the undisclosed location anyhow. And, they didn’t make a scene.