Bernard Schoenburg: Schobin, Joost among Springfield staff for Mendoza, Duckworth

KEVIN SCHOBIN, 49, of Springfield has been named assistant comptroller-fiscal policy in the administration of new Comptroller SUSANA MENDOZA.

Schobin has been with state government for 25 years, and leaves a job as deputy director for fiscal affairs and budgeting at the Illinois Board of Higher Education to join Mendoza. He earlier worked at the Illinois Department of Transportation, was legislative director for 12 years for then-Comptroller DAN HYNES, and also worked nine years as an appropriations analyst for the House speaker’s office.

He said he’s excited to join the Mendoza team and reunite with friends in the office.

“Comptroller employees work under some of the most stressful conditions,” he said, and he’s glad to help “during these difficult times.”

“My aim is to assist the high-energy Comptroller Mendoza navigate through this impasse,” he added, and help “those who are most adversely impacted.”

He’ll be paid $120,000 annually.

ABDON PALLASCH, 50, of Chicago is Mendoza’s director of communications.

“I thought Susana Mendoza was one of the most creative, hard-working legislators when I covered the General Assembly, and I think as comptroller she will be able to use the office to best prioritize payments to Illinois’ most vulnerable residents as state leaders grapple with ways to solve the budget crisis,” Pallasch said.

He worked as a journalist for 25 years, including being political reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times for 13 years. He was later assistant budget director under Gov. PAT QUINN, and was recently director of public affairs for Cook County Sheriff TOM DART. He’s being paid $115,000 annually in the new job.

Duckworth team

U.S. Sen.-elect TAMMY DUCKWORTH has named senior staff members, including CAMERON JOOST, 27, of Springfield, who will be state director.

Joost (pronounced “yost”) was political director of the Duckworth campaign.

Joost also served as downstate political director for U.S. Sen. DICK DURBIN’s 2014 campaign, and worked in his Springfield Senate office for more than four years. She worked three years on the staff of Illinois Senate Democrats. She is a Springfield native and 2007 graduate of Springfield High School. She has studied communications at the University of Illinois Springfield.

There will be a Springfield Duckworth office, but the location was not yet certain.

Joost said she is honored and excited to help Duckworth “serve the hardworking families here in my hometown and across the state. I’m also appreciative of all that I’ve learned from Senator Durbin over the past five years, and can’t wait to hit the ground running in January.”

The chief of staff will be KAITLIN FAHEY, an Elmhurst native who has worked for Duckworth since 2006, including as chief of staff in Duckworth’s U.S. House office. She was campaign manager of the Senate race, where Duckworth defeated Republican U.S. Sen. MARK KIRK of Highland Park.

Kirk farewell

Kirk, who served in the U.S. House from 2001 to 2010 before joining the Senate, talked of his pride in America and Illinois as he said farewell to his colleagues in a speech on the Senate floor last week.

Kirk recalled that he was on the House international relations committee staff when he was able to work toward a war crimes indictment of a Bosnian Serb police chief accused of ethnic cleansing. The British Special Air Service ended up killing SIMO DRLJACA in 1997.

“I was so proud that we brought this monster to justice,” Kirk said. “He could no longer hurt anyone.”

Kirk also spoke of products and services linked to Illinois, from modern dentistry to pumpkins.

“From the electric blanket and the vacuum cleaner to the cellphone, the people of Illinois have been so innovative,” he said.

He also joked about the Chicago Cubs finally winning a World Series after a 108-year drought.

“As I’ve said so many times,” Kirk said, “any professional baseball team can have a bad century.”

Hitt to education board

Gov. BRUCE RAUNER recently named COLLIN HITT, a former director of education policy at the Illinois Policy Institute, to the State Board of Education.

ANDREW FLACH, spokesman for Rauner, said Hitt left the policy institute post in 2012, went to Arkansas to earn a doctorate in education policy, and is now assistant professor in the department of medical education at the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in Springfield.

“As someone who grew up in central Illinois and has been involved in education policy for the entirety of his professional career, Hitt is an ideal candidate for the State Board of Education,” Flach said.

Hitt, who will be up for Senate confirmation, was named to replace JOHN SANDERS of Marion, who was named by the state Supreme Court in October as resident circuit judge of Williamson County.

Journalists leaving

Add three more people to the list of journalists leaving Statehouse beats. Two of them are moving on to new jobs.

IVAN MORENO, 34, who has been supervisory correspondent with The Associated Press at the Statehouse for about a year, will become the AP’s supervisory correspondent in Milwaukee.

Moreno said he felt welcomed by the Springfield press corps when he moved from Denver, and leaving Springfield will be “a little bittersweet.” He learned a lot about Abraham Lincoln and will miss horseshoes (the food), he said, but the new location will allow him to write a greater variety of stories.

“I’ve covered politics for almost six years now,” he said. “It’s time to move on.”

He also said the Illinois Statehouse has been “a challenging and sometimes frustrating beat.”

“You don’t always have access to the people you need to speak to,” he said, and “decision-making is not always transparent” while there is “a lot of spin from every side.”

“In the end, learning to deal with those things makes you a stronger reporter,” he added.

SETH PERLMAN, 61, has been an AP photographer in Springfield for more than 33 years, and was laid off Friday. Perlman said there is severance pay involved and he’s happy with his situation. He also turned in his equipment to the company and has no plans to freelance. He certainly has been around to help showcase a lot of history. He’s a Miami native, got a journalism degree at the University of Colorado, and worked places including the Denver Post before coming to Springfield.

Still at the Springfield AP bureau is political writer JOHN O’CONNOR.

And one of WCIA-TV’s Statehouse reporters, KELSEY GIBBS, 28, is leaving in January to become a general assignment reporter for KFOR-TV in Oklahoma City. She’s a Springfield High grad who got her master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois Springfield. Gibbs said it will be her first time living outside Illinois, so she expects to have “a little homesickness” with her family still here. But she said she’s excited about the “jump to a bigger market.”

Still with WCIA in Springfield is EMILEE FANNON.

Other Statehouse reporters who recently announced departures are AMANDA VINICKY, going from Illinois Public Radio to WTTW-TV in Chicago; MIKE RIOPELL, who had been in Springfield for the Daily Herald, based in Arlington Heights, and took a job in Chicago with the Tribune; and WCIA-TV’s ED CROSS, who is becoming spokesman for the state Department of Natural Resources.

— Contact Bernard Schoenburg:, 788-1540,

Bernard Schoenburg: Schobin, Joost among Springfield staff for Mendoza, Duckworth

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