Rep. Demmer voices concern over board removals
House Rep. Tom Demmer (R-Dixon) voiced his frustration with Gov. J.B. Pritzker's decision to revoke two state board appointments he'd previously made after the individuals disagreed with him.
Demmer said at a press conference on Thursday that Pritzker's actions were "heavy-handed tactics."
“We came down here today because we think it's important to call attention to some seemingly heavy-handed tactics that the administration has taken recently regarding some dissent,” Demmer said. "The governor removed two board members after he appointed them to the board — their nominations were rescinded."
Pritzker appointed Julie Hamos and Michael Gelder to the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board earlier this year. Both Hamos and Gelder, along with John McGlasson, voted to hear an application by Pipeline Health to close Westlake Hospital, according to Crain's Chicago Business.
That vote took place April 30. Pritzker then announced the following week that he would rescind Hamos and Gelder's appointments to "appoint members who more closely share the governor’s vision for hospitals around the state," according to a statement by spokeswoman Emily Bittner.
Demmer said he felt it was important to note the appointees were Pritzker's own appointees from just days before.
"This seems like retribution because they didn’t share the governor's vision," Demmer said. "These boards and commissions should be independent checks and balances on the system. We should not have pending applicants who feel they will be on the receiving end of retribution if they vote against the governor's wishes," Demmer said.
House Rep. Norine Hammond (R-Macomb) said the board members need to know they have the ability to do their job to make tough decisions they need to make without reprisal from the governor's office.
"We depend on good judgment from these boards," Hammond said. "We can’t have these boards fearing their decisions need to be vetted by the governor. With his public actions taken with board members who oppose his wishes, I have a tough time they can work for the betterment of Illinois and not just the governor’s office."
Hammond said there were more than 150 appointments still pending.
"They should not have to worry they will be removed because they make decisions that counter to the governor’s wishes," she said.