WBEZ | Drey Samuelson http://www.wbez.org/tags/drey-samuelson 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