“The Ordeal is Over”

Gov. Quinn hits the ground running

"The ordeal is over," a newly-sworn in Gov. Pat Quinn told the Illinois Senate Thursday evening. 

"The citizens can be extremely proud of our elected representatives today," he said, adding that he and state lawmakers have a "duty, a mission" to restore people's faith in government.

As he begins his first full day as Illinois' 41st governor, Quinn, 60, knows "there's a lot of hard work to be done" in state government. He has said he's looking at a 700-day term, and he wants to accomplish as much as he can in that time.

Reporters working late at the capitol building in Springfield Thursday night, noted that as they were finishing up, they saw the new governor going into his office after 10 p.m.  He said, "I've got a little work to do before tomorrow."

Quinn's mother, 90-year-old Eileen Quinn, said her advice to her son was to not work 24 hours a day. She acknowledged that her son is unlikely to listen to her. 

Eileen Quinn said her son would have a "deep concern" for the needs of the people of the state. She calls her 60-year-old son a "very capable person" who -- with prayers and help -- would achieve his purpose.

Among the many issues Quinn faces as governor is a budget deficit of $3 billion.  The outgoing governor has been saying that taxes would be raised immediately upon his departure, and while tax increases have not been ruled out, Quinn prides himself on his frugality.

"I'm a VIP member with Super 8," he said, kidding with reporters Thursday. "And I moved up from Motel 6."

Additionally, he now takes control of billions of dollars in state aid from President Obama's economic recovery plan.

A provision in the stimulus bill would have blocked Blagojevich from exercising any control over the money due the state. Instead, it would have been under the control of the Legislature.

The idea behind the provision was to make sure Blagojevich couldn't have used the money to enrich himself or his associates.

Quinn had served for two terms under Blagojevich, but they had little in common. In fact, Quinn has said the two have not spoken in more than a year and Blagojevich said last year that Quinn wasn't even part of his administration.

Quinn is a former state treasurer and tax attorney. He is best known for his grass-roots efforts to cut big government and protect the little guy.

Quinn holds a Bachelor's degree from Georgetown University and a law degree from Northwestern University.  He is a divorced father of two children. 

Unlike his predecessor, Quinn plans to move into the Governor's Mansion in Springfield. Blagojevich's refusal to make a home in the state capital has been a point of controversey since he first took office.

Only minutes after Quinn took the oath of office Thursday, two contractors peeled down Rod Blagojevich's picture from entrances at the Illinois State Capitol.

At one entrance, bystanders were taking pictures with cell phone cameras, and contractor Derek Needham asked them, jokingly, "Does it look a lot better?"

By Thursday night, Blagojevich's name and picture had disappeared from the state's official Web site. Instead, an unobtrusive "Pat Quinn, Governor" was in the upper right corner.

The new governor will hold a news conference this morning to talk about the business ahead.  

The leader of Illinois' Republican Party says state Democrats owe the people of Illinois an apology.

Andy McKenna is chairman of the Illinois GOP. He says so-called 'Blagojevich Democrats' didn't need to wait until former Gov. Blagojevich was in handcuffs before he was removed from office.

He said Democrats are leading the state in the wrong direction, and he looks forward to the Republican Party producing "a new generation of leaders."

McKenna called Quinn a "political opportunist."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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