Quinn Vows To Repair Illinois' Reputation

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Pat Quinn's first day as the new governor of Illinois began with him phoning in to radio talk shows. "We're going to start to fumigate state government from top to bottom," says Quinn, who has been called a do-gooder. The governor said he did not expect a honeymoon and ended his first day of official business in a brainstorming session with the state's top elected executives. "We all love Illinois and I think it's very important that we convey that…we're going to repair any damage, all of us working together," he says.


It took less than 24 hours for the new governor of Illinois to start putting his imprint on state government. Patrick Quinn, sworn in this week after Illinois lawmakers ended the state's scandal-ridden saga by impeaching and ousting Governor Rod Blagojevich. NPR's Cheryl Corley has more on Mr. Quinn's first full day on office.

CHERYL CORLEY: Just like anyone who wants to make a good impression on a new job, Governor Quinn started the day early. First, phoning in to radio talk shows.

Governor PATRICK QUINN (Democrat, Illinois): Well, it's a busy day ahead. You know, it was quite a day yesterday.

CORLEY: Next, the governor held a press conference for a phalanx of reporters who have been standing sentry outside the glass doors of the governor's office in the rotunda of the state capital.

Governor QUINN: Good morning, I think the people of our state are ready to move forward and that is...

CORLEY: Pat Quinn has often been described as a do-gooder and a populist. So, it wasn't surprising there was no pomp and ceremony. Instead of a grand entrance from the governor's office, he had come from behind reporters and made his way to the podium. The governor called this day a beginning and he announced he was signing his first executive order, making sure that a reform commission looking for ways to clean up state government would operate under the auspices of his new office.

Governor QUINN: We're going to start to fumigate state government from top to bottom to make sure that it has no corruption.

CORLEY: Quinn said one of his top priorities is to restore the state's integrity. He also took on a number of other questions about the size of the state's budget deficit, about taxes and about when he was moving into the state's executive mansion. As the questions continued, the governor's press secretary Bob Reid started to look a little nervous. The schedule was packed. It was time for Quinn to get on the state's plane and head to Chicago. And Reid was trying to move the governor along.

Mr. BOB REID (Press Secretary for Illinois Governor Patrick Quinn) I'll do what I can.

CORLEY: But this was new territory for the governor so many reporters and so many questions. He stuck around a bit longer.

Unidentified Woman : Do you expect to get any sort of honeymoon period from Republicans?

Governor QUINN: Well, I don't expect a honeymoon, I just expect...

CORLEY: Just work in the best interest for Illinois, he would add before heading into his office. Soon afterwards, he'd fly into Chicago.

Governor QUINN: How are you guys? We have all of our constitutional officers here.

CORLEY: Governor Quinn ended his first day of official meetings in his Chicago office. He had asked other state officials - the Illinois attorney general, the secretary of state, the state treasurer, and the Illinois comptroller - to join him in a brainstorming session. Attorney general Lisa Madigan, who had tried removed former Governor Rod Blagojevich from office through legal maneuvering, called this gathering of the state's top executives with the governor a rare occurrence.

Attorney General LISA MADIGAN (Illinois): And I can say that the last time that happened under former Governor Blagojevich was July first, 2003. So I know already that Governor Quinn is going to be a very different governor than our former governor.

CORLEY: Quinn says the meetings will be held regularly. So the state's elected executives can work together to find solutions to the state's finances, or to initiate ethics reforms. But this first meeting says Quinn, was about unity.

Governor QUINN: Well all love Illinois, and I think it's very important that we convey that to the public, that our state is going through a tough time and it's had a grievous wound. But we're going to repair any damage, all of us working together.

CORLEY: Today, the governor will attend a conference in the state capital and visit another part of Illinois to salute volunteers helping neighbors with their taxes, it's all part of Patrick Quinn's plan to show Illinois residence that they have a new governor who has an entirely different approach to governing. Cheryl Corley, NPR News.

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