It was high noon when Gov. Pat Quinn bid a final farewell to his six-year term in office Monday.
Contrary to gubernatorial tradition, Quinn skipped the swearing in of his successor, Gov. Bruce Rauner, to work on the last-minute clemency petitions he had stuffed into the trusty, 32-year-old briefcase he affectionately calls Betsy.
Then Quinn, who has been variously described as quirky, honest, brilliant and a populist pain in the butt — took photos with his security detail, wished aides goodbye, and headed out the door to lunch as a private citizen at his private office at 676 N. LaSalle St. with a few close friends and his yelping Yorkshire Terrier rescue dog, Rosie, on his lap.
“Rosie is yipping away and happy to spend more time with me,” he chuckled after eating his daily turkey sandwich laced with brown mustard; although he substituted his daily Red Delicious apple with a banana.
“I want to thank the people of Illinois for their prayers, support and kind words over these last six years,” he told Sneed. “May the will of the people always be the law of the land.”
Although Quinn, who started the Citizens Utility Board in 1983, is mum about his future, Sneed hears speculation he hopes to return to the consumer advocacy business and to teach.
On Sunday evening, Quinn spent time with his 98-year-old mother. On Monday evening, Quinn made plans to hit the Chicago Bulls game with his close friend/political strategist David Axelrod, who is director of the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics.
Sneed is told Quinn had bid farewell to the aging governor’s mansion in Springfield last Thursday. He bid farewell to the staff; unplugged the old microwave where he brewed potfuls of teabag tea; and rescued forgotten eighth grade class pictures left behind in his private quarters.
He donated recently gifted items to Catholic Charities — but he’d been removing his personal belongings from his office since Nov. 5, including his treasured guitar pick, given to him by B.B. King, and a bowtie that once belonged to the late Sen. Paul Simon, one of his heroes.
Top aides claim his car was still stuffed with boxes and old newspapers. “While in office, the governor always insisted on driving his own car and drove his security nuts because they had to tail him,” one said.
Quinn will continue to be a scribbler of notes on a snowstorm of tiny pieces of white paper, and will keep pencils in his pocket “because a long pencil is better than a short memory.”
But, Sneed is told, “The governor feels good about what he accomplished and is ready for a new chapter,” said a close friend.
“The last day was actually very peaceful.”
Running with Rauner . . .
A Rauner re-do?
Newly sworn-in Gov. Bruce Rauner, who vows to shake up Springfield, shook up some onlookers while being sworn into office.
• To wit: Perhaps due to confusing instructions from U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman, who administered his oath of office, Rauner put his right hand on the Bible and raised his left hand — prompting observers to wonder whether he’d have to re-do the oath.
Quoth Rauner’s new Communications Director Mike Schrimpf to Sneed: “No.”
There ya go.
Tippling with Rauner. . .
Gulp? Although liquor is banned at the Illinois State Capitol building, where Rauner’s pre-inaugural dinner was held Sunday night, Sneed is told guests clairvoyantly brought their own corkscrews.
• Tipple tattle: Seems the industrious invitees were told in advance to crack open their gift bag and . . . voila! A gift bottle of wine would appear.
Now there’s a foxy way of legally circumventing the rules.
Hanging with Rauner. . .
Sneed hears a surprise guest at Bruce Rauner’s pre-inaugural dinner lovefest was none other than the spectacular looking ex-wife of golf legend Tiger Woods — Elin Nordegren — who was the arm candy of an identified rich guy, according to a Rauner invitee.
Sneedlings. . .
Tuesday’s birthdays: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, 53; Patrick Dempsey, 48, and Orlando Bloom, 37.