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Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015 12:01 am

Alan Dixon’s record of public service

I am writing in response to James Krohe, Jr.’s inane and sophomoric diatribe regarding U.S. Sen. Alan J. Dixon [see “Official graffiti,” Dec. 18]. I had the honor of working with Alan Dixon in the offices of the Illinois State Treasurer, Illinois Secretary of State, and U.S. Senate. (I use the word “with” because Dixon always said no one worked for him, only with him.) He was honest, intelligent, hardworking and compassionate. He was a Navy veteran and renowned trial attorney.

In his 42 years of public service, there was never a hint of political scandal or anything less than a man of principles and honor. From 1950-1970 he served as state representative and state senator from Belleville. Here are just a few of his accomplishments:

  • Sponsored the major Judicial Reform Bill in 1962. (It remains intact today.)
  • Was the leading advocate for the Illinois junior college system.
  • Sponsored the “Right to Know bill” which mandates all government meetings be open to the public.
  • Sponsored Equal Pay for Women bill.
  • Sponsored absentee voting law for sick and disabled people.
  • From 1970-1976, he was State Treasurer. During that time Dixon:
  • In 1970 was the first Democrat to report all campaign contributions, including cash. He did this in every statewide campaign.
  • As Treasurer he earned the state $500 million in interest income, 92 percent more than any of his predecessors.
  • He deposited money in all downstate banks, not just the large Chicago banks.
  • For six years he kept the Treasurer’s operating budget the same as his predecessor’s.

From 1976-1980, Dixon served as Secretary of State. During his campaign, he promised to do four things, and did:

  • He initiated photo driver’s licenses, which helped secure everyone’s identity.
  • He initiated multi-year license plates which saved taxpayers $21 million.
  • He instituted staggered license plate registration, which saved taxpayers money, time and kept them from freezing their fingers changing their plates in December.
  • He instituted a personnel code to protect state workers from political pressure and firing.

Alan J. Dixon had the highest ethical standards and he demanded the same of those he worked with. In four years as Secretary of State, he fired 327 people for ethical violations. He refused to “wink or blink” at corruption. He also reduced the Secretary of State payroll by hundreds, which also saved the taxpayers money.

From 1980-1992, Alan J. Dixon served Illinois as U.S. Senator. Among his many accomplishments were:

  • Saved the National Summer Funding Program for Children.
  • Sponsored the Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC), which saved the country billions of dollars.
  • Single-handedly killed the Sergeant York Artillery Gun, which was a massive defense spending project that didn’t work (at that time no one challenged the Department of Defense).
  • Sponsored legislation to stop the president from imposing agricultural embargos.
  • In 1995 President Clinton appointed Alan J. Dixon to head the National BRAC. He traveled throughout the United States and his work saved the country billions of dollars. He also made sure Scott Air Force Base in Mascoutah remained opened. That means he saved 13,000 Illinois jobs and $3.5 billion in a year.

Alan J. Dixon exemplified the best in government service. He did not care if you were a Democrat, Republican or Independent. He was renowned for his constituent service. Ask any mayor or county official who they called on for help when they needed to deal with the federal government from 1980-1992.

Gov. Quinn and the legislature were right to honor Alan J. Dixon. He deserved it. I am proud to call him friend. Rest in peace, Alan. Illinois is a better place because of you.

Tim McAnarney is a Springfield native and has owned his own government relations firm since 1988.

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