SHEILA STOCKS-SMITH is getting some far-flung help as she raises money for her mayoral campaign.

SHEILA STOCKS-SMITH is getting some far-flung help as she raises money for her mayoral campaign.

On Wednesday, she had a $100-per-person fundraiser at the Pasfield House. Honorary chairs were two Democratic state senators from Chicago: HEATHER STEANS and IRIS MARTINEZ.
Also listed prominently on the invitation were Cook County Commissioner LARRY SUFFREDIN, a contract lobbyist who is often in Springfield, representing clients from Abbot Laboratories and the Chicago Bar Association to the Illinois Arts Alliance and the Illinois Restaurant Association; and — on the local front — new Sangamon County Board member CHRIS BOYSTER, D-District 28.

Others on the host committee include JULIE CURRY, former Democratic state representative from Mount Zion and later deputy chief of staff to Gov. ROD BLAGOJEVICH. She is now a lobbyist for groups including the Cable Television & Communications Association of Illinois, Health Alliance and Teamsters Joint Council 65. There’s also COURTNEY NOTTAGE, former chief of staff to then-Senate President EMIL JONES JR., D-Chicago, who now lobbies for VISA Inc., AT&T and the Illinois CPA Society, among others.

Other names on the invitation were those of LORETTA DURBIN of Springfield, a state-level lobbyist and wife of Stocks-Smith supporter U.S. Sen. DICK DURBIN; and CAROLYN BROWN HODGE of Paris, a former top aide to Gov. PAT QUINN and now a lobbyist for the Health Care Council of Illinois. Other Springfield lobbyists backing the fundraiser were PAM SUTHERLAND, representing Planned Parenthood, and MICHAEL GRADY, whose clients include the Illinois Library Association.

“Many of these people care a great deal about what happens in Springfield,” Stocks-Smith said. “For many of them, it’s their second home. … I care about what happens in Chicago. I care about what happens in Illinois. And I think many of these people care about what happens in Springfield.”

More out-of-town support is shown by the Stocks-Smith campaign’s recent filings with the State Board of Elections. She received $10,000 from Gori, Julian & Associates, an Edwardsville law firm that, on its website, says it has helped people get more than $500 million in compensation for damage done by exposure to asbestos. The firm supports Democratic candidates across the state, Stocks-Smith said.

Also listed are $2,500 from a Peoria-based real estate development business, Cullinan Cos., and another $2,500 from its founding partner, DIANE OBERHELMAN of Edwards, who gives to candidates from both parties. Another $5,000 went to Stocks-Smith from the Prairie Political Action Committee, a fund associated with Sen. Durbin.

Stocks-Smith also held a $25-per-person event at The Alamo in downtown Springfield on Tuesday. Campaign manager MATT BERRY said at least 100 people attended, and the event raised at least $10,000. Stocks-Smith left that event briefly to attend a city council hearing on the proposed city budget, where she argued against quick action, lamenting the possible layoffs of low-paid workers. She also noted at the meeting that, if she wins as mayor and takes the 10 percent pay cut she’s promised, along with 5 percent cuts in agency director pay, that in itself would save $100,000.

Coffey kicks off ads
Speaking of money, mayoral candidate MIKE COFFEY JR. spent a bunch of it to kick off his TV advertising with a 30-second spot during the Super Bowl.  Some daytime 30-second spots on WRSP, Fox 55 in Springfield, go for less than $50, but the Super Bowl is at the top of the charts. The ad cost Coffey $9,000. It was produced by Xpress Professional Services, a subsidiary of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association.

The ad’s theme was good service and combining the right ingredients — a takeoff on lessons learned at Saputo’s, the Coffey family’s downtown Italian restaurant.

Coffey said XPS recommended the buy, and it was a way to kick off the TV campaign with a large audience.

Stocks-Smith and MIKE FARMER, another candidate for mayor, are also doing TV advertising, although neither of them bought time during the Super Bowl.  Also in the race — now less than two weeks away — are MIKE HOUSTON, Ward 3 Ald. FRANK KUNZ, WILLIAM McCARTY and MARIO INGOGLIA. The top four finishers in the Feb. 22 primary move on to the April 5 general election.

Picture, please
One of the areas of the city getting attention this campaign season is the Mid-Illinois Medical District, which is viewed as a potential growth area for Springfield.

An observer of the local scene noted for me, however, that the medical district’s website has a big “photo not available” where a picture should have been of one of its board members — BRAD SCHAIVE, business manager of Laborers Local 477.

Hey, he’s not so hard to find. That’s him in a white hard hat in the TV ad for Coffey.

MIKAL SUTTON, director of medical development for the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce, quipped that if I could get Schaive to send along a picture, she’d be happy to take it.
“He told me a year and a half ago he was sending his picture,” she said.

Schaive said that while he doesn’t have a “profile pic” as part of his job, he thought he had sent in a shot of himself and would do so again.

Meanwhile, the district’s website, www.midillinoismedicaldistrict.org, also has an “interactive map” to point out things such as hotels, educational facilities, banks, apartments and churches. Problem is, it didn’t seem to interact — at least on my computer.

Sutton said officials are in the process of updating the site.

Bomke tax hike strategy
State Sen. LARRY BOMKE, R-Springfield, says his co-sponsorship of a bill to repeal the recent increase in the state income tax is partly a wedge to try to make sure that lawmakers pass “meaningful reform” in workers’ compensation laws.

“The chance … of the tax being repealed is pretty unlikely,” Bomke said after issuing a news release last week announcing that he’s a co-sponsor of Senate Bill 78 to repeal the increase. The lame-duck legislature hiked the state income tax from 3 percent to 5 percent.

Still, he said, “I’m hopeful because of the tax increase and because of the outcry … particularly from businesses, the Democrat leaders of the Senate and the House will be more amiable to pushing meaningful workers’ comp reform.”

Bomke said he met about two months ago — before passage of the tax increase — with DAVID VAUGHT, budget director to Gov. Quinn. He said Vaught talked of a half-percentage-point increase with which to borrow money to pay off state bills.

“That was palatable,” Bomke said.

Even at that, Bomke said, he wanted such action contingent on reforms being passed to lower the costs of Medicaid and business’ costs for workers’ comp. Medicaid reform has been passed, but workers’ comp reform is still on the table.

I asked what effect repeal of the tax increase would have on all the state employees in Bomke’s 50th District.

“There’s no question there’s pain associated with it,” he said, adding that, “unless we do something to encourage businesses, Illinois is going to continue to stagnate.”

Bomke is one of 19 Senate Republicans named as sponsors or co-sponsors of the bill.

Hynes appointed
Former Comptroller DAN HYNES has a new part-time, non-salaried job that involves some travel.
Hynes was named by RAJIV SHAH, administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development, as U.S. Observer to the International Fund for Ireland. The fund, established in 1986, is designed to promote a sustainable peace in Northern Ireland and nearby countries.
The observer’s post includes quarterly meetings in Ireland.

No great surprise that Hynes got such an appointment from the administration of President BARACK OBAMA. Hynes lost a U.S. Senate primary to Obama in 2004, but was an early and strong supporter of Obama for president after that.

Hynes, who left the comptroller’s office in January, now works in Oakbrook Terrace for Foster & Foster Consulting Actuaries. The firm does a lot of work with public pension funds.

Bernard Schoenburg is political columnist for The State Journal-Register. He can be reached at 788-1540 or bernard.schoenburg@sj-r.com.