SPRINGFIELD - The career of soon-to-be retired State Sen. James Clayborne (D-East St. Louis) was celebrated last week by colleagues who praised his achievements over 23 years - namely his ability to bring home the bacon: millions more for schools via a reworked funding formula, money for rebuilding Wolf Branch and Belle Valley middle schools, remodeling East St. Louis High School and replacing an ancient Lebanon School District building.
One of his colleagues also noted the plum committee assignments held by Majority Leader Clayborne, the second highest ranking member of the upper chamber.
In remarks supporting a formal resolution thanking Clayborne for his service, Sen. Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago) noted how Clayborne "gravitated toward the more lucrative committees."
"Leader Clayborne, we never had an opportunity to serve on many committees together because you had a tendency to gravitate toward the more lucrative committees," Collins said, then laughed, on Nov. 16. Her remarks were followed by laughter in the chamber.
"And maybe I did not pick up on that lesson for myself. But given that fact I still want to say that you are a gentleman of distinction."
Clayborne has been in the Senate since 1995, and Majority Leader since 2009. He decided not to run for re-election, and instead will return to private law practice.
His replacement in January will be Democrat Christopher Belt of Cahokia who defeated Republican Tanya Hildebrand of Belleville in the Nov. 6 general election.
Clayborne's committee assignments include chair of Assignments, vice chair of Executive, as well as member of Energy and Public Utilities, Insurance and others.
Clayborne is partner at Clayborne, Sabo and Wagner of Belleville, a law firm that represents businesses, insurance companies and local governments.
Collins declined an interview.
The resolution for Clayborne pointed out that he was one of few African American legislators outside of Chicago to serve in the Senate, "offering him an important platform from which to advocate for the needs of people of color and communities in the Metro East."
"Senator Clayborne is a champion of fairness and economic opportunity for people of color and has sought to hold the government accountable for hiring and contracting with businesses owned by minorities, women, and veterans to ensure the government invests in the communities it serves," the resolution states.