Go Fish, the St. Louis Spotlight, & Political Oddsmakers

The Madison County Record Sep. 23, 2004, 6:59am

Those in glass houses...

Illinois Auditor General William Holland's office regularly produces detailed audits that weight the eyelids more than they raise the pulse. Accordingly, most don't get mainstream media attention.

But the wordy September 2004 audit of the "Illinois Aquaculture Development Fund" (downloadable by clicking on the link to your right) got noticed, less because of its sharp criticism than for the critic it was criticizing.

Doug Wojcieszak, former director of the Pinckneyville fish farming cooperative this fund supported, is current director of 'Victims and Families United,' a Glen Carbon-based and trial lawyer-backed group that advocates on a range of issues.

His co-op is criticized for spending too much on travel, meals, and severance pay to Wojcieszak as well as taking too long to develop a business plan and refusing to make records public.

That's interesting comment when you consider that Wojcieszak's fish farm spent $6.951 million state taxpayer dollars from 2000-2004. It shut down last November.

But this would all be 'for the state archives' stuff if not for Wojcieszak, quotable guy who likes to hold press conferences where he aggressively takes on those who are too 'pro-business.'

When you want to be a media lightning rod, the spigot runs good or bad. Just ask the Olsen twins.

Talk of the Town

Touting a (sort of) competitor can be a business no-no, but we cannot resist plugging St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Paul Hampel's comprehensive series on Madison County's asbestos fetish. It's most impressive.

One of our big city PR sources tipped us two weeks ago that Hampel's series was coming. Suffice to say that expectations were exceeded at The Record headquarters in downtown Edwardsville.

The Post-Dispatch even managed to snap a photo of the legendary asbestos attorney Randy Bono in action, in the courtroom.

If you haven't seen it and you cannot find Paul around the courthouse, stop by our office and we'll give you a copy of our (sort of) competitor's article.

Betting the favorite

Apparently would-be Republican State Sen. David Sherrill of Edwardsville-- a businessman touting tort reform as his top issue-- isn't wooing Springfield's political oddsmakers.

Last week the Illinois State Medical Society, an association representing Illinois' doctors, endorsed the incumbent Sherrill is challenging, trial lawyer and State Sen. William Haine (D-Alton).

In its endorsement ISMS called Sen. Haine "a leader in efforts to reform Illinois’ medical liability environment."

This is the same Sen. William Haine (D-Alton) who, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "work(ed) out of a converted grocery store in Wood River dealing in personal injury suits" as the original law partner of local tort king Randall Bono.

Could it be that Haine, very well-respected in Springfield after just one term, just looks too much like a shoo-in?

Perhaps. But ISMS did pass on also backing incumbent and bigger shoo-in Rep. Jay Hoffman (D-Collinsville).

The doctor's group chided Hoffman as "a trial attorney at one of the state’s largest personal injury firms" while suggesting that his opponent, 'independent' Carol Kugler of Collinsville, "will stand up to the powerful trial attorneys and protect health care in southern Illinois."

That's powerful trial attorneys like Hoffman as well as Haine, a partner at one of the biggest in Metro East, SimmonsCooper.

Kugler's husband, Morris, is a doctor and president of the St. Clair County Medical Society.

Tracking the underdog

A high-paid consultant was nice enough to slip us the latest on a statewide poll conducted by an Illinois campaign committee on September 14-15 that has President George W. Bush up 59-33 over challenger John Kerry in 'Downstate' Illinois.

Twenty-six points is a startling number when you compare it to Kerry's 49-43 lead statewide in the same poll.

And also consider that in polling terms, 'Downstate' is hardly a GOP monolith, as it includes Metro East as well as everywhere else outside Chicagoland.

Of the major Downstate population centers, Madison and St. Clair Counties, deep Southern Illinois, Decatur and the Quad Cities trend strong Democrat while Peoria, Bloomington, Springfield, and Rockford trend strong Republican. Champaign-Urbana is split 50-50.

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Illinois Auditor General
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Springfield, IL 62703

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