Kim Simios, who leads Ernst & Young LLP’s office in Chicago, is just back from Springfield where she met with lawmakers about the budget impasse.

It was Simios’ first trip to the state capital, and the accounting veteran acknowledges being a little wide-eyed about what she saw behind the legislative curtain.

“I thought we’d meet with people blatantly partisan. But I didn’t see that. It was refreshing,” she says of the Democrats and Republicans who all got along.

Discussion about the budget impasse, though, “was very depressing.”

Simios, now managing partner of EY’s Chicago office, started as an intern at the firm in 1987 while earning an accounting degree from Indiana University. Today, Simios also sits on the boards of World Business Chicago, United Way and Willow Creek Community Church. Next month, she’ll host a women’s networking forum.

In Springfield last week, Simios was joined by her counterparts from Deloitte, KPMG, PwC and Grant Thornton in a meeting organized by the Illinois CPA Society. They met with Senate President John Cullerton, a Democrat, and Sen. Christine Radogno and Rep. Jim Durkin, both Republicans, as well as a half dozen others.

The accountants wanted to share their clients’ concerns and remind lawmakers of the wide footprint their industry has on the region. “Illinois has a reputation issue,” says Simios, adding that the inability to pass a budget is costing Illinois about $11 million a day. It’s a number that makes accountants shudder. “We went to listen and asked if there’s anything we can do to help.”

Nice offer, but lawmakers say it’s not a problem easily fixed by bean counters.

“It’s fascinating stuff,” Simios says. “I just wish I had a magic wand to fix it.”

Sacks and Bluhm team up again

Michael Sacks and Leslie Bluhm

Michael Sacks and Leslie Bluhm

Michael Sacks and Leslie Bluhm, two notable names on the civic scene, are teaming up again. This time it’s to fund a project to mobilize volunteers on Chicago’s South and West sides.

Bluhm is co-founder of Chicago Cares, an organization that year-round connects volunteers to organizations needing help.

Its latest project is rallying volunteers from within particular neighborhoods. A health care initiative in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood is the first to get support from the Community Investment Strategy, as the project is called.

Bluhm is the primary funder of the $200,000 project. GCM Grosvenor investment firm, headed by Sacks, is among the other donors. Sacks also is an investor of Sun-Times’ owner Wrapports LLC.

The project “resonated . . . because of its comprehensive focus on particular geographies,” Sacks told me. “By concentrating resources to enable community generated priorities in high need neighborhoods there is a better chance to have an impact.”

Sacks and Bluhm have known each other for more than 20 years. They’ve teamed up to raise money for numerous politicos, organizations and causes, including Hillary Clinton and the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago.

Bernie still a force

Our Revolution, an offshoot of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, has organized a Chicago chapter. It’s marking the occasion with a gathering to talk about Mayor Rahm Emanuel‘s record.

The event is April 22 at the Chicago Teachers Union offices.

Top of the list of attendees: former mayoral candidate Chuy Garcia.

As you recall, in 2015, Sanders endorsed Garcia, who forced Emanuel into a runoff.

365 books in 365 days

Rachelle Jervis

Rachelle Jervis

Erik Larson, the author of “The Devil in the White City” and, most recently, “Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania,” headlines a fundraiser this week for the Executive Service Corps.

He’s a big name in the book world with 37,188 followers on Twitter. Rachelle Jervis, the CEO of the Executive Service Corps, also has a following among book lovers — and 204,302 Twitter followers to prove it.

In 2014, Jervis set out to read 365 books in 365 days. She tweeted about books she liked and became a reading sensation, with authors from around the world sending her books to read and talk about on Twitter.

“It was a wonderful experience and forced me to step back” from the demands of everyday life, Jervis said about how she made time to read.

She’d do it early in the morning, late at night, while waiting in line at the grocery store or for her daughter to wrap up her many appointments and activities. It was all on her iPad so it was easy to get in a page here and there.

It also forced her to say no to all the extra things that pop up — from being the room mom to baking for the school fundraiser. “It was great for my mental health.”

Read more Taking Names at shiakapos.com.