The Selling of the Governor
With his re-election campaign looming, Gov. Rod Blagojevich's administration has built an unprecedented image-shaping machine, sending hundreds of thousands of taxpayer-funded promotional letters to constituent groups, urging agency directors out into the field and grading the media's coverage of events.
A key part of the Democratic governor's operation involves about two dozen state workers who compile weekly progress reports on how well they promote the administration and help shape news coverage.
Those workers represent Blagojevich's new Illinois Office of Communication and Information. It is largely composed of public information officers who once would have worked at individual state agencies. They are now combined into boiler-room style operations in Springfield and Chicago that give greater control to the administration in shaping its message.
Though the combining of agency spokesmen was billed as a cost-saving move, it also has raised questions about whether the administration's motives are focused more on political marketing than on distributing information to the public.