WBEZ | Tim Johnson http://www.wbez.org/tags/tim-johnson Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Senate office work goes on, as Kirk remains hospitalized http://www.wbez.org/story/senate-office-work-goes-kirk-remains-hospitalized-96122 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-February/2012-02-06/Mark Kirk_Bill Healy.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2012-February/2012-02-06/Mark Kirk_Bill Healy.jpg" style="width: 630px; height: 422px;" title="U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, shown here at a public event ealier this year. (WBEZ/Bill Healy, file)"></p><p>U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois remains in fair condition at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, just more than two weeks after suffering a stroke. His Senate offices are still open and some of his legislative proposals are even moving forward.</p><p><strong>MUCH MORE: </strong>Listen to Monday's <a href="http://www.wbez.org/eight-forty-eight"><em>Eight Forty-Eight</em></a> at 9 a.m. on WBEZ</p><p>Since his stroke on Jan. 21, the Highland Park Republican has missed 14 roll call votes in the Senate, though his vote wouldn't have made a difference in any of them.</p><p>Kirk's staff has not introduced legislation since then, but he has been added as co-sponsor on a handful of bills and amendments. One of them, an amendment to prevent former members of Congress convicted of serious public corruption from collecting a federal pension, passed the Senate last week.</p><p>United States Sen. Scott Brown, a Massachusetts Republican, urged his colleagues to pass the proposal as a gesture to Kirk.</p><p>"This is a good government amendment, and an appropriate way to honor our colleague, Senator Kirk, who we wish a speedy recovery," Brown said prior to a voice vote on the amendment.</p><p>Meahwhile, Kirk's top staff asked for advice from aides to U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson, a South Dakota Democrat, according to Johnson's chief of staff, Drey Samuelson. Johnson was away from the Senate for nine months following a brain hemorrhage in 2006.</p><p>"Our legislative director and I went up and we had a conversation with [Kirk's] chief of staff and their legislative director and another person for about an hour," Samuelson said. "And I hate to say the word – sort of experts in this – but I guess that’s what we are."</p><p>Samuelson said the meeting centered on the procedural and technical complications of a situation like this. For example, when Johnson was in a coma for three weeks, authorization for travel and other expenses posed an issue, Samuelson said.</p><p>It was another two to three weeks after Johnson came out of the coma, Samuelson recalled, before he started speaking with the senator about official business.</p><p>"The legislative assistants would give him memos, which he could read without any problem," Samuelson said. "And then he would say ‘okay’ or ‘not okay’ or...whatever his feelings were."</p><p>Kirk's neurosurgeon told reporters a few days after his stroke that he had requested his Blackberry - a sign, the doctor joked, that the senator was ready to get back to work. But it's clear that Kirk, just 10 days following a second surgery to relieve swelling in the brain, is still very much in the recovery stage.</p><p>His office declined to answer specific questions about office management.</p><p>"As Senator Kirk continues his recovery, and throughout his rehabilitation, his office will remain open to constituents," a Kirk spokesperson said in an emailed statement. "The staff will continue [to] pursue his legislative priorities and provide the same level of service and dedication to the residents of Illinois as they have for the last year."</p><p>As they went about that work recently, Kirk's staff got a small gift, courtesy of Johnson's staff.</p><p>"Out staff bought their staff lunch a few days afterwards," Samuelson said. "Because we’re certainly sensitized to how nice people were to us when Tim fell ill and we wanted to do the same."</p></p> Mon, 06 Feb 2012 06:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/senate-office-work-goes-kirk-remains-hospitalized-96122 GOP members of Congress sue Illinois over remap http://www.wbez.org/story/gop-members-congress-sue-illinois-over-remap-89731 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-July/2011-07-28/IL-congressional-maps-3_WBEZ_file.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives from Illinois are suing the state over new boundaries for congressional districts.</p><p>According to the lawsuit filed in federal court, the new map is an "outrageous partisan gerrymander" designed to eliminate five Republicans in next year's election.</p><p>The lawsuit also makes the case that Latino voting power is being diluted. The map, it claims, packs "an excessive super-majority of Latino voters" into U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez's district.</p><p>The complaint was filed by all of the state's congressional Republicans except for U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson.</p><p>"While Congressman Johnson believes the redistricting process leading to this map was unfair and a distortion of the people's wishes, these challenges have not succeeded in the past," said Johnson's spokesman, Phil Bloomer. "So Congressman Johnson has decided to devote his energy and his resources to his re-election campaign."</p><p>Bloomer added that Johnson is "hopeful that an impartial court will modify the map in a way that's in the voters' best interests."</p><p>If the map remains intact, it's likely to set up some incumbent-versus-incumbent GOP primary fights. One Republican House member who finds himself in a complicated political position is freshman Joe Walsh from the Northwest suburbs. He currently represents the 8th Congressional District.</p><p>"I know I'm running somewhere," Walsh said Tuesday, before the lawsuit was filed. "I don't know where. I live in what would be the new 14th. My district office is in what would be the new 10th. A big chunk of my district is in what would be the new 6th."</p><p>If Walsh does choose to run where he lives - the 14th - it is likely to set up a primary against another freshman congressman, Randy Hultgren.</p><p>On Wednesday, the heavy-weight conservative group Club for Growth announced in a news release that if the redistricting lawsuit fails, it will endorse Walsh for that seat.</p><p>"In less than a year, Congressman Walsh has distinguished himself as a pro-growth leader," said Chris Chocola, the group's president and a former congressman from Indiana.</p><p>Hultgren's staff didn't immediately return requests for comment.</p><p>Last week the GOP's leaders in the Illinois legislature, state Rep. Tom Cross and state Sen. Christine Radogno, sued the state over the boundaries included in the map for state legislative districts.</p><p>Both lawsuits name as defendants the Illinois State Board of Elections, which will be represented in court by the office of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.</p><p>Regarding both cases, Madigan spokeswoman Robyn Ziegler emailed, "We plan to vigorously defend the state."</p></p> Wed, 27 Jul 2011 20:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/gop-members-congress-sue-illinois-over-remap-89731