Dan Rutherford for Secretary of State. Because Illinois Deserves Better.

The Secretary of State's Office is the agency of state government which directly serves more citizens annually than any other. The customers of the Secretary of State's Office deserve no-less in service than that of the private sector.

Having worked as an Executive with America's premier service company, Dan Rutherford knows what it is to deliver good customer service. That is why Dan Rutherford is running for Secretary of State. He has the experience and know-how to deliver the efficient, timely and friendly service you expect and SHOULD receive.

GOP candidate alleges illegal hiring in White’s office

Crains Chicago Business, by Greg Hinz

October 12, 2006

(Crain’s) — The Republican candidate for Illinois secretary of state is asking for a probe into what he alleges was illegal hiring in the office by Democratic incumbent Jesse White.

But Mr. White’s office says nothing improper occurred.

In a Springfield press conference, GOP nominee Dan Rutherford said he believes Mr. White broke the law when he allowed the wives of two highly paid aides—Chief of Staff Thomas Benigno and Personnel Director Steve Roth—to be given no-bid contracts for part-time jobs with his office.

Crain’s reported on Aug. 28 that Benedetta Benigno recently was retained as a $2,000-a-month secretary and that Melissa Roth works as a $30.12-an-hour speaker on safety issues. Mr. White himself also has several relatives on his payroll, including his daughter, Glenna White-Jones, whose salary has tripled to $112,512 since her father took office.

Mr. Rutherford said the Benigno and Roth hirings appear to be improper since their husbands make $139,296 and $103,500 a year, respectively—enough to be covered by a state law that generally bans the hiring of relatives of top state staffers. He said he’s written Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan asking her to review the matter.

Mr. White’s spokesman disputes that anything wrong has occurred. He says both Ms. Benigno’s and Ms. Roth’s hirings are exempt from state law because their positions are “ministerial,” rather than policymaking.

Mr. Rutherford replied that giving speeches is not ministerial and that Ms. Benigno’s business card says she is an “intelligence analyst” with the office. Mr. White’s spokesman denied that, terming her “the receptionist and secretary” for the intelligence unit.

A spokeswoman for Ms. Madigan said she has not yet received the letter.

Nepotism allegations make waves in secretary of state's race

Belleville News Democrat, by: Ryan Keith

October 10, 2006

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Eight years after promising to clean up a corrupt office, Secretary of State Jesse White faces new questions about putting his relatives on the payroll and taking money from employees.

White, a Chicago Democrat running for a third term, says he has made tremendous progress in fighting corruption that flourished under his Republican predecessor, George Ryan, who was sentenced to prison last month for his role in a licenses-for-bribes scandal.

But his opponent argues White has brought his own improprieties to the office, along with the reforms.

State Sen. Dan Rutherford said White might not have done anything illegal by hiring relatives or taking gifts and campaign contributions from employees, but believes it sends the wrong message in a state where government corruption is a serious problem.

“I think it's totally perception,” Rutherford, R-Chenoa, said at a recent state Capitol news conference. “As to whether it technically violates the letter of the law, in today's environment it just is wrong.”

White insists he's done nothing wrong.

“I've walked a fine line all my life and there's not a blemish on my record, and I don't want to start now,” White said.

Rutherford points to several White moves that he considers improper:

The corruption under George Ryan included secretary of state employees being pressured by their bosses to contribute to his campaign fund. Also, a key moment in his trial was the disclosure that Ryan accepted cash Christmas gifts from his rank-and-file staff members.

Rutherford promises that if he's elected, he won't hire any family members or take political contributions from employees.

“I think it just is fundamentally wrong,” Rutherford said. “I think the public trust is being bruised with this.”

White explains that his daughter is a well-qualified certified public accountant and he needed someone he knew could serve in a prominent role in his administration.

“When I came on board, I didn't know who I could trust and I wanted the best office in government,” White said. “I wanted the best and the brightest; I wanted the sharpest knife in the drawer.”

He said his other relatives were hired because they met job requirements and passed tests, not because of his connections.

“We have never been charged with doing anything improper,” White said. “We take a no-nonsense approach to individuals working in this administration.”

White also said he has recently changed department policy to bar employees from donating to his campaign or giving him Christmas gifts to prevent any appearance of impropriety.

He noted that he brought in a former U.S. attorney as inspector general to root out corruption and retested thousands of drivers who might have received their licenses illegally.

He said Rutherford is using the questions to distract voters from other important accomplishments, such as improving disability and temporary parking placards and tracking traffic offenses with a statewide database.

“When you're 40 points behind, then you go to the negative,” White said.

But a political ethics group considers the allegations important.

The Campaign for Political Reform says they raise broader questions, such as whether to ban nepotism in state hiring or bar campaign contributions by state employees to their bosses.

“Virtually everything that raises the slightest doubt further undermines what very little confidence the public has in state government,” said the group's executive director, Cindi Canary.

Challenger promises no family on payroll

By: Tara Malone, Daily Herald

September 29, 2006

Taking aim at Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White’s five relatives on the office payroll, GOP challenger Dan Rutherford Thursday pledged not to hire any family members if elected in November.

The Republican state senator from downstate Pontiac blasted White, a Chicago Democrat, for promoting his daughter to a $112,512-a-year post, allowing a contract employee to pen his biography and permitting his chief-of-staff’s wife to come on board as a temporary secretary exempt from the contract bid process.

“It doesn’t pass the smell test,” Rutherford said during an interview with the Daily Herald’s editorial board. “Are those things illegal? I don’t know. I’ll leave that to a U.S. attorney somewhere to decide.”

White’s spokesman denied what Rutherford describes as a “pattern of impropriety.”

Such attacks reflect Rutherford’s effort to create name recognition across the state, White spokesman Dave Druker said. Rutherford has served 14 years in the Illinois General Assembly.

With eight years as secretary of state, 16 years as a state representative and a popular tumbling team that bears his name, White, meanwhile, is more of a household figure.

Druker defended the hiring done during White’s tenure.

Daughter Glenna White-Jones joined the secretary of state’s office during the George Ryan administration. Her first staff job paid $39,000 yearly. Two promotions later, she nets $112,512 as an executive assistant overseeing four departments, Druker said.

“Her salary was not nearly commensurate with her ability in that office,” Druker said, noting she was the department’s lone certified accountant.

Four additional relatives of White’s are among the office’s nearly 3,800 employees.

Druker defended Rick Davis’ authoring White’s biography while also working as a contract employee, saying he did not write on state time. And the chief-of-staff’s wife recruited as an 18-month employee is “eminently well-qualified,” Druker said.

Such explanations will not be needed if he is elected, Rutherford contends.

“Up front, I will say real clear, I will not hire my family members. Period. I don’t care if they are qualified,” Rutherford said, billing himself as a hands-on secretary of state. “When I’m the secretary, I will not let that happen on my watch.”

Rutherford To End White’s Improprieties Will Not Hire Family Members

(Chicago, IL) – Secretary of State Nominee Dan Rutherford makes it very clear where he stands with regards to nepotism in the office, differing dramatically with current Secretary of State Jesse White. Rutherford publicly announced his policy that will be instituted upon taking office:

“I will NOT hire my family to work for the Office of the Secretary of State. Period.”

“I will NOT permit my senior staff to hire their family members on no-bid contracts.”

“I will NOT permit an employee or no-bid contractor of the Secretary of State to write my biography.”

“I will NOT accept cash gifts from employees of the Secretary of State’s Office.”

“I will NOT accept campaign contributions from employees of the Secretary of State’s Office.”

These practices are currently being allowed by Jesse White and will be prohibited under a Rutherford administration. Rutherford is addressing news accounts initially published in Crain’s Chicago Business and the Springfield State Journal-Register reporting White’s daughter was hired at an annual salary of $39,000 under Secretary of State George Ryan, but after her father took office as Secretary of State, he increased her salary 300%, and she now makes $112,000. It was also reported that White’s step-grandson has been on the SoS payroll since November of 2002 making over $40,000. His nephew, George White, and three nieces are also on the Jesse White payroll making as much as $63,500 each.

It was also revealed that White’s Chief of Staff, Tom Benigno, hired his own wife on a no-bid contact, circumventing state hiring procedures, to be an 18-month part-time secretary. In addition, the new biography out about Jesse White was written voluntarily by Rick Davis. It has now been exposed that Davis is a no-bid $73,000-a-year contractual employee of White.

I do not know if what Jesse is doing with family and friends is illegal or not. A U.S. Attorney will have to answer that, but I can sure tell you it does not pass the smell test,” emphasized Rutherford. “I am making it perfectly clear, I will end these improprieties.”

Rutherford has called on White to make public his personnel policy with regard to hiring and promoting family members and his policy on awarding no-bid contracts to family members and friends that do personal favors. So far, White has refused to respond.

Rutherford also says that from his first day in office as Secretary of State, he will not allow SoS employees to contribute to political campaigns, and he will not accept cash gifts from employees for Christmas.

“I am happy to hear that Jesse White will no longer be accepting contributions from his Secretary of State employees. This has been my position all along. I do not accept contributions from my Senate employees now. I have said throughout this campaign that employees whose salary increases and evaluations are determined by the Secretary should not be allowed to contribute personally through gifts or through political donations to one’s campaign. I think it’s fundamentally wrong.”

“The about-face by Jesse White on this issue is interesting, considering the number of high-level staff that were shown as contributors on his last financial report. Employees listed as Administrative Personnel in the Illinois Blue Book who also appeared on his last campaign report filed with the State Board of Elections are Stephen Roth, $600 4/26/06; Terry Coombes, $500 4/26/06; Jacqueline Price, $500 4/26/06; Linda Piccioli, $500 4/26/06; Anthony Burnett, $300 6/6/06; Annette Czarobski, $500 6/6/06; Chester Czesak, $250 6/14/06; Jacqueline Dicianni, $500 6/6/06; Elizabeth Kaufman, $400 6/6/06; Allen Mitzenmacher, $500 6/28/06; Carol

Lampard, $500 4/26/06; Kenneth Buzbee $500, 4/26/06; Delores Martin, $500 4/26/06; Michael Mayer, $500 4/26/06; Kenneth Durbin, $500 4/26/06; Al DiSilvestro, $500 6/6/06; and Dale Swinford, $500 5/23/06.

“I welcome a public discussion with Mr. White on these issues and others important to the people of Illinois about the operations of the office. With the pattern of impropriety coming to light about his operation, it is obvious why he is avoiding debates and joint appearances,” remarked Rutherford.

“I have am telling the voters exactly what my policies are going to be as Secretary of State. The people of Illinois deserve to know how Jesse White makes the decisions to put close friends and relatives on the government payroll and at what cost,” Rutherford stated.

Jesse's stumbles Nice guy of Illinois politics lends hand to biographer, daughter

08/19/2006 By: Greg Hinz, Crain's Chicago Business

In more than three decades as a public official, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White rightly has earned a reputation as one of the nicest people you'll ever meet. Mr. White's demeanor, civil-rights advocacy and extraordinary work with underprivileged kids through the Jesse White Tumblers makes him a near-unassailable figure in a state where politics is a blood sport.

But even nice guys sometimes make lousy decisions. There's no other way to describe a series of blunders that, individually, haven't received much attention but collectively make you scratch your head.

Start with the nifty new biography of Mr. White by Springfield's Rick Davis.

The book — available at your local store — is as glowing as its title: “They Call Heroes Mister: The Jesse White Story.” Mr. Davis clearly admires his subject, and spends more than 300 pages detailing everything from Mr. White's social work near Cabrini-Green to how he might have brought the Cubs a pennant had they brought him up from the minors.

But one thing isn't mentioned in the book. That's how Mr. Davis spends most of his time: working for Secretary of State White as a $73,000-a-year contract employee.

Mr. Davis says he sees no conflict. He says he actually began talking with Mr. White about the venture in 1998, before Mr. White was elected secretary of state, and says all research and writing was done “on my own time.” Mr. White has decided to donate to charity his share of profits from the $19.95 book, which so far has sold about 1,000 copies, Mr. Davis adds.

Mr. White declines to be interviewed. His spokesman says Mr. Davis developed a school-bus safety education program that is so good it won a national award, and that it's been “cheaper” to keep him on the payroll since 1999 as a contract worker rather than as an employee.

Contract employees indeed do not receive benefits. On the other hand, those lucky contractors avoid competing with other applicants for civil service jobs. Either way, imagine what the media would do to, say, Gov. Rod Blagojevich if he allowed a $73,000-a-year staffer to write a flattering biography in an election year.

Then there's Mr. White's daughter, Glenna White-Jones, whose salary with the secretary of state has almost tripled since daddy took office in 1999.

Mr. White's spokesman notes that Ms. White-Jones worked for a major accounting firm and a well-known corporation before being hired by then-Secretary of State George Ryan in the early-'90s. When Mr. White took office, his daughter “was the only certified public accountant” in the office's accounting and revenue unit, so he made her unit head, the spokesman adds.

Ms. White-Jones has continued to advance. She makes $112,512 a year — a bit more than the $39,267 she made under Mr. Ryan in 1998.

Apparently, what's good for the boss is good for the boss' No. 1. Joining the secretary of state's office in December as a $25-an-hour contract secretary was one Benedetta Benigno. She's also known as Mrs. Thomas Benigno, wife of Mr. White's chief of staff, and makes about $2,000 a month as a part-timer in a unit that checks on fraudulent driver's licenses.

Mr. White's spokesman says Ms. Benigno was a secretary before taking time off to raise a family, and that she and three others were hired under an 18-month contract because the office lacks funds for permanent staff.

Overall, he concludes, Mr. White has cleaned up a corrupt office, and all those mentioned above were qualified.

A somewhat different take comes from state Sen. Dan Rutherford of Downstate Chenoa, the GOP nominee for secretary of state in the November election. “This is the old way of doing business,” he says, pointing as well to a Sun-Times report that Mr. White accepted $1,000 in cash from staffers as a gift last Christmas. (Mr. White says he gave the money to charity and won't do it again.) “This is a not an isolated case. It's a pattern.”

Yes, it is. The nice guy who replaced the disgraced George Ryan ought know better.

Family business Familiar faces; at least to Jesse White; pop up on secretary of state's payroll

08/28/2006 -By: Greg Hinz, Crain's Chicago Business

Last week in this space, I wrote about how Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White has been spending your money; specifically, how he put his biographer on the payroll at $73K a year, tripled his daughter's salary in seven years and allowed the hiring of his chief of staff's wife as a $25-an-hour part-time secretary.

Given Mr. White's reputation as the nice guy of Illinois politics, I figured that would be it. We all mess up sometimes. On to more important stories, like Wal-Mart wages or who's telling the biggest whoppers about Illinois finances.

As it turned out, last week's column just scratched the surface.

Thanks to a series of phone calls and e-mails, I now have a fuller picture of who's drawing taxpayer-funded checks in Mr. White's office. Bottom line: There's no need for family feuds here, because everyone's making a buck. Even Chicago's famed Roti clan; known for having every odd nephew and in-law on the city payroll; might be able to learn a few tricks.

Let's start with Mr. White personally.

As I reported last week, his daughter Glenna White-Jones first was hired by then-Secretary of State George Ryan in the early 1990s, but she has seen her salary triple from $39,267 to $112,512 since daddy took over in 1999. Mr. White's office didn't tell me last week but now confirms that Ms. White-Jones' stepson, Reginald Jones Jr., was hired by the office in November 2002 as a $3,363-a-month employee instructor, a civil-service exempt position. (Her husband, Reginald Jones Sr., also works for the state, but not in Mr. White's office.)

In addition, Mr. White's nephew, George White, and three nieces; Loretta Allen, Teresa Ivy and Diane Ivy; have been hired by the secretary of state's office since Mr. White was elected. The office says all four had to pass tests to get their jobs. They make as much as $5,298 a month each.

Then there's Chief of Staff Thomas Benigno, whose wife, Benedetta, recently began pulling in $2,000 a month as a part-time secretary.

Apparently, public service runs in the Benigno family. Three of their kids; plus a niece and a nephew; have worked for the office in the last four years, in positions ranging from truck driver to $8- or $9-an-hour summer temp while in college. Mr. White's spokesman, Dave Druker, says the summer jobs are advertised in high schools and, “We have trouble filling them, particularly Downstate.”

The Benignos live in Norridge, which is about a half-hour from downtown Chicago.

We have more Benignos. One Benigno aunt is a part-time counter worker in a license facility and one cousin was hired in 2004 as a $3,578-a-month auto-repair mechanic.

That's not all.

Melissa Roth, wife of Mr. White's personnel director, Steve Roth, works as a part-time $30.12-an-hour speaker on safety issues. Her contract began in February 2005, and she made about $32,000 last year.

Mary Lopez, the sister of office senior legal adviser Edmund Michalowski, makes $5,944 a month working as a lawyer. She began in June 2003.

Anthony Burnett, another senior executive, has two cousins recently hired for civil-service posts. And both of Mr. White's press guys; Communications Director Bob Yadgir and spokesman Mr. Druker; have had kin join the office since they did.

Mr. Druker says his brother, who works at a license facility, got the job himself and scored high on a test, but doesn't deny that he and some others of those listed above might have been clued in to apply at the right time. Mr. Druker also says that these few hires are insignificant in an office with 3,800 employees.

On the other hand, the 18 job-holders referenced above are related to just 10 suits in the secretary of state's office: Mr. White and nine senior executives that I specifically asked about. Who knows what else is going on?

I still think Mr. White is a nice guy. But he and his “brain” trust clearly have a nice deal going.

Dan Rutherford's Commitment to Service

My mom and dad owned a pizza restaurant for 17 years and I started waiting tables there in third grade. I grew up knowing that good service was essential; that is how my family made a living. As an adult I joined the ServiceMaster Company, one of the largest service companies in the world, and I recently celebrated 20 years with them.

I believe, think, act and lead my life with the attitude that good service is what we are to deliver and should expect to receive. In my opinion, that goes for government also.

The largest ‘retail’ operation in Illinois government is the office of Secretary of State. They touch more ‘customers’, on an annual basis, than any other agency. It is a service business and I do not believe it is performing well.

I am running for Secretary of State because I believe, in my heart, I can do a better job managing the operation. I am running to make a difference, to show that government services can be responsive and that the citizens of Illinois should be treated as valued customers.

Deploying present assets in a different way is what needs to be done in the Office of Secretary of State. Fast food restaurants had assets sitting and they wanted to get a better return on those investments so they developed a breakfast menu and drive up windows. Airlines wanted to be more efficient in serving their customers so they provided an online reservations system and e-mail notice of confirmed upgrades. Grocery stores, gas stations, even cinemas and parking garages all responded to the consumer’s change in commerce and now provide for credit card payments at their facilities.

The technology exists today to move the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office into a customer responsive, efficient operation. It will take a leader with vision, service passion and drive to get it done.

Following are my Service Commitments and a part of what I will do as Secretary of State.

Service Commitments for Drivers

1. Service by Appointment

The most common complaints about the Secretary of State’s Office are the long lines and wait times at Driver Services Facilities. Numerous news stories have been written about this problem and the stress it puts on both the customers and the employees.

Other states are using modern, common-sense techniques and technology to maintain a consistent flow of customers and relieve much of the congestion. They accomplish this by enabling customers to schedule appointments to visit the Driver Services Facility.

As Secretary of State, Dan Rutherford will establish the procedure for booking an appointment for a specific facility, day and time for those needing service at a Driver Services Facility. An individual will be able to schedule an appointment through the Internet or by telephone. Of course, walk-ins will still be accepted and welcomed.

In today’s world, a consumer can make dinner reservations from a home computer or book a flight to Hong Kong, but when it comes to service from the SoS in Illinois, one must take a number and sit in a cold plastic chair until called.

The Secretary of State’s Office must keep up with today’s advances in technology.

It is not uncommon to hear of people who miss a half day of work because they are not able to get their service needs completed at the SoS over their lunch hour. Dan Rutherford will change that.

While some may not use the Internet or telephone appointment system, a large number of individuals will, and that will lessen the burden on those who opt to walk in and use the traditional means of service. Regardless of the route the customer chooses, this is an easy way to increase the efficiency of the Driver Services Facilities and significantly decrease the wait for customers at virtually no cost.

Current technology offers many opportunities to improve service.

It is the responsibility of today’s government leaders to adapt to the infinite leap in technology, moving away from the ways of the past.

Unfortunately, much of government operations - unlike competitive businesses that rely on satisfying customers - are obsolete, inefficient and wasteful of both time and money.

Drawing on his two decades as an executive in a company -ServiceMaster - which was built on providing outstanding customer service, coupled with his experience in government as a Senator, Dan Rutherford knows how positive change can be made within the limits of the current Secretary of State budget.

If California and Wisconsin can implement an efficient appointment system for their motorists, so can Illinois.

Individuals, as well as organizations such as the Secretary of State's Office, can rise to meet expectations. If the chief executive of an organization has low expectations and an attitude that positive change cannot be made, then the organization will fail to effectively serve their customers.

Government agencies, under leadership like Jesse White's, have become resistant to change and bureaucratically stagnant.

Dan Rutherford believes that because the rest of the world no longer lives technologically in the 1960s that it is unacceptable for the Secretary of State’s Office to be so far behind.

Resisting positive change in serving the customers of Illinois will continue to needlessly cost citizens both time and money.

2. Better Service Hours

The typical work day for most workers starts around 8 or 9 a.m. and ends around 5 or 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. The vast majority of the Driver Services Facilities are open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and Saturday mornings. As a result, hard working Illinoisans who need to utilize the services of the Secretary of State frequently must take time off work to do so.

A private sector service solution to this is obvious: Change the times that the offices are open so that millions of Illinois citizens who work during the day can complete their business. The same number of staffing hours could be maintained by opening later in the morning and staying open later in the evenings on certain days. The current Secretary of State has only 15% of the facilities open outside the 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday range. Also, 86% of the facilities are closed on Monday and 84% are open for only half a day on Saturday.

Shortened hours on Fridays to allow for extended hours on Saturdays for those customers who cannot take off work during the week is a logical approach.

Offering a range of flexible hours options will allow the office to meet the needs of all of its customers in the most efficient way.

3. E-mail Reminders For years it has been the practice that the Secretary of State mails a notice when one's license plate registration is about to expire. Many individuals rely on this mailing as a reminder.

For the first time, the Secretary of State’s Office now collects a $20 fine for those who fail to renew their registration within a certain period of time after expiration. Over 200,000 citizens of Illinois had to pay that fine last year, and a number received tickets for having expired license plate tags. Many did not receive the reminder notice in the mail.

The current Secretary of State has pointed out that he is not required to notify people of their impending license plate expiration. From a customer service standpoint, credit card companies and magazine subscription services remind their customers about impending expirations. Dan Rutherford believes that government should treat its customers with no less respect. With the secure technology available today, Secretary of State Dan Rutherford will allow individuals to opt into a system that will automatically send them reminders, by e-mail, when their plate registration or driver's license is about to expire. This service would decrease the cost of mailing paper notices and, most importantly, be an efficient service to the customer.

Further, published reports about the failure of many to receive their renewal notices by U.S. mail led the current Secretary of State to admit that changes in his mailing system were the problem. Put simply, the Secretary of State’s Office has not kept up with system changes as any good direct marketing company in the private sector would. Illinoisans do not deserve a Secretary of State’s Office that is outdated in both technology and service. Dan Rutherford will take the necessary steps to both accurately reinstitute the U.S. mail reminders and allow customers to opt for an e-mail reminder.

4. Streamlining Driver Data Entry

When visiting a Driver Services Facility in Illinois, it does not take long to realize one of the more time consuming steps in the process is entering and verifying one’s driver information. Instead of using the time of the SoS employee to enter this information, the process could be streamlined to allow the individuals to enter their own information at a computer kiosk in the facility. After the required information has been entered, the SoS employee would verify the record and process the application.

Allowing individuals to enter their own information helps eliminate the time the SoS employee must use for data entry, thereby allowing them to serve more customers more quickly. It also gives customers the opportunity to verify their information on the screen in front of them, helping to eliminate erroneous information from being entered on the record. With the secure technology available today, Secretary of State Dan Rutherford will allow individuals to opt into a system that will automatically send them reminders, by e-mail, when their plate registration or drivers license is about to expire.

Self data entry is a common sense approach that allows customers to use today’s technology. The Social Security Administration already utilizes this procedure in their regional offices.

5. Credit Card/Debit Card Use at All Driver Services Facilities

Credit cards and debit cards are used universally for payment of goods and services. Use is so prevalent that with online banking, many people do not even write checks in today's America. Yet, in Illinois only 15% of the Driver Services Facilities accept either a credit or debit card, leaving 85% of the facilities with the customer only able to use cash or check. Of those accepting credit cards, all take only Discover Card.

As Secretary of State, Dan Rutherford will provide for all of the Driver Services Facilities to accept credit or debit cards.

6. Online Functions

Simple tasks, such as obtaining a copy of one’s driving record online, will be implemented by Dan Rutherford as Secretary of State. This service will help curtail some of the traffic in SoS offices and provide the customers efficient and timely response to their needs.

Any registered driver will be able to obtain a ‘PIN’ number from the SoS office to use online service. Allowing these simple functions to be completed online is similar to what such private sector service companies as airlines, banks, and retirement funds are doing today.

7. Customer Care Survey

Restaurants, airlines, and hotels - all service enterprises - often ask for customer feedback. With the comment card, a customer can express to the management pleasure or displeasure with the service they received and provide suggestions for improvements.

Customer feedback will be used to fine-tune services in the Secretary of State’s Office under Dan Rutherford. There is always room for improvement, and the best way to learn about those opportunities is from the customers themselves.

Once customer feedback is received by Secretary Rutherford, the information will help him gauge service satisfaction and decide where improvements sand can be made. Successful strategies used at one SoS office may well be used in other offices to the benefit of all.

Whether it be a paper comment card completed after a facility visit or online at a website, the information is important. Dan Rutherford is already dohis own website:

8. Leading By Example

The Illinois Secretary of State is responsible for the operation of one of the largest state government offices in the entire country. With such a vast organization comes the need for the leader of the operation to be connected to the front-line staff in the field and to hear from the customers.

There are more than 130 Driver Services Facilities in the state of Illinois. The Secretary of State is also responsible for scores of other offices and operations. It is important for the leader to make sure all offices in the state -regardless of whether they are in the businest parts of Chicago or in rural Illinois -have the necessary tools to provide the hightest level of customer service. The best way to know what those needs are is to actually go to the facilities.

It should be the personal responsibility of the Secretary of State to ensure the level of customer service and condition of the offices. As Secretary of State, Dan Rutherford will personally visitevery Driver Services Facility in his first year of office. In so doing,will meet the men and women who serve on the front line and let them know that he is committed tomaking sure they have the tools necessary to efficiently secustomers. It will also give himopportunity to meet the customers, serve them at the counter and hear about their experience with the SoS office. Secretary Rutherford will return to those facilities throughout his term of office.

One of the best ways to lead is from the front. By making himself available and visibile to the employees and customers of his office, Secretary Rutherford will lead by example.

The choice

Illinoisans now have a clear choice between Dan Rutherford and Jesse White for their next Secretary of State.

There is the incumbent Secretary of State who is resistant to change, sets low expectation for customer service, fails to utilize modern business practices and current technology in his office, and tolerates practices that cause needless frustration wasting both time and money. Tax dollars under Jesse White's administration simply are not being put to the best use.

Senator Dan Rutherford offers real-world customer service experience gained in the private sector and years of service in the General Assembly that have made him an agent for change in Springfield. In short, he gets things done.

Senator Rutherford has an energetic, can-do attitude grounded in providing superior service. His business life gives him the experience to know how to solve problems and improve service. His legislative background gives him the insight to implement these positive changes in a government bureaucracy.

Secretary of State Dan Rutherford will undoubtedly transform his office into a top-notch, customer service center for the betterment of the people of the great state of Illinois.

Rutherford unveils plan for service commitment in Sec. of State's office

July 22, 2006 By Diane Wilkins, Marion Daily Republican,

Illinois Senator Dan Rutherford looks over papers as he sits waiting aboard the plane to take him to Mt. Vernon. Rutherford was campaigning in the area as the Republican candidate for Secretary of State. (DIANE WILKINS PHOTO)

MARION — State Senator Dan Rutherford, the Republican nominee for Secretary of State, spent much of Friday in Southern Illinois discussing his plan to reform the Driver Services Facilities.

“I believe, think, act and lead my life with the attitude that good service is what we are to deliver and should expect to receive,” Rutherford said. “In my opinion, that goes for government too.”

Rutherford went on to say that with his 20 years of experience in the private service sector as an executive of a Fortune 500 Company, that he will show that government services can be responsive and the citizens of Illinois will be treated as valued customers.

“Deploying present assets in a different way is what needs to be done in the Office of Secretary of State,” said Rutherford. “Fast food restaurants had assets sitting, and they wanted to get a better return on those investments. So they developed a breakfast menu and drive-up windows. Airlines wanted to be more efficient in serving their customers, so they provided an online reservations system and e-mail notices of confirmed upgrades. Technology exists today to move the Sec. of State's Office into a customer responsive, efficient operation.”

Rutherford said that the most common complaints he has heard about the office are the long lines and wait times at the Driver Services Facilities.

“As Sec. of State, I will establish the procedure for booking an appointment for a specific Service Facility,” Rutherford said. “An individual will be able to schedule an appointment through the Internet or by telephone.”

Rutherford said that while some may not use the Internet or telephone appointment system, a large number of individuals will, and that will lessen the burden on those who opt to walk in and use the traditional means of service.

Another change that Rutherford proposes is the change of hours for the Drivers Services Facility.

Most offices are open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and Saturday mornings. Rutherford points out that these are also the times where most people are on their jobs and therefore must take time off work to do so.

“A private sector service solution to this is obvious,” Rutherford said. “Change the times that the offices are open so that millions of Illinois citizens who work during the day can complete their business. The same number of staffing hours could be maintained by opening later in the morning and staying open later in the evenings on certain days.”

Rutherford pointed out that shortened hours on Fridays to allow for extended hours on Saturdays for those customers who cannot take off work during the week is a logical approach.

Sending e-mail reminders to individuals when their plate registration or driver's license is about to expire could be done automatically with current, secure technology.

Several other suggestions made by Rutherford include streamlining drive data entry; credit/debit card use at facilities; more services available online and a periodic customer care survey.

Candidate wants drivers to get test appointments online

July 21, 2006 By: Chuck Sweeny, Rockford Register Star

ROCKFORD — Dan Rutherford, the Republican candidate for secretary of state, wants Illinois drivers to be able to call or e-mail for an appointment to take a drivers test or get an eye exam at the driver’s license office.

Speaking on Thursday at Chicago/Rockford International Airport, Rutherford said other states provide this.

“We’ll keep the opportunity for walk-ins, but you should actually be able to book an appointment for a time and date. And this isn’t rocket science, this is something the largest state in the nation — California — is doing. Our neighbors in Wisconsin do this as well,” Rutherford said.

Rutherford, who faces incumbent Democrat Jesse White in the Nov. 7 election, said he also wants to make the driver’s license bureau friendlier by opening offices all day Saturday in return for closing them Friday afternoons.

“Most people are working Mondays through Fridays. So having the offices open past noon on Saturday is more convenient for most people,” Rutherford said.

Rutherford, a state senator from Chenoa, also wants to expand Web services.

“You should be able to register online, get a PIN number and get your driving record. This is not a budget- busting item,” he said.

Dave Drucker, White’s spokesman, said appointments aren’t a cure-all.

“When you schedule an appointment, there’s no guarantee you’ll get in at that time. Think of your experience at the doctor or dentist,” Drucker said. In California, he said, “there’s a 10-day to two-week wait to get your license while they mail it to you,” he said. In Illinois, motorists get their new licenses handed to them when they leave the office.

Drucker said White has streamlined the office, rooted out corruption and improved Web services.

“We’ve estimated that throughout the state we’ve reduced waits at driver’s license facilities 2 to 3 hours when we took office to 20 minutes to a half-hour today.”

Secretary of state candidate plans service industry approach

July 21, 2006 By: Rob Stroud, Journal Gazette - Times Courier

CHARLESTON – Illinois secretary of state candidate Dan Rutherford said he plans to take a service industry approach to that state office if elected in November.

Rutherford, a Republican state senator from Pontiac, discussed his plans and his service industry background Friday afternoon during a campaign stop at the Panther Paw Bar & Grill in Charleston.

The candidate grew up serving customers at his parents’ pizza restaurant and, as an adult, found employment with ServiceMaster Corp. in Downers Grove. That corporation owns Merry Maids, Rescue Rooter, Terminix and other businesses.

“I believe that technology has expanded today where we can really change the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office to become a more efficient and customer service-oriented organization,” Rutherford said.

One of Rutherford’s stated goals would be to let customers set appointments online or by phone to reduce their wait for service at Illinois’ approximately 130 driver service facilities. He cited accounts of customers waiting up to four and half hours for service. He said California and Wisconsin already offer online appointment bookings.

“We are still going to keep the walk-ins because you still need that flexibility,” Rutherford said.

Mike Weaver, chairman of the Coles County Republican Party, said the small staff at Charleston facility can quickly be overwhelmed by large numbers of customers, particularly when many high school students come in at once. He said that facility does not have the technology to alleviate such situations.

Rutherford estimated 15 percent of Illinois’ driver service facilities do not accept credit or debit cards and 15 percent are not open on weekends.

The candidate said he would have all facilities accept the cards, adding many people no longer carry cash. He also wants to move some Friday afternoon hours at facilities to add new or later Saturday hours for those who cannot come in during the week. He said the overtime costs for that move would be minimal.

“Every one of those (proposals) are logical and not budget busters,” Rutherford said.

The Charleston and Mattoon driver service facilities are both open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays and 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays. Charleston is open 8 a.m.-noon on Saturdays, while Mattoon will be open from 7:30 a.m.-noon on Saturdays through August. Neither local facility is equipped to take credit or debit cards.

Another of Rutherford’s stated goals would be to update the Secretary of State Office’s mailing list and provide e-mail notices for those whose driver license stickers are nearing expiration. Approximately 200,000 customers paid the $20 late fee during the last fiscal year, he said.

If elected, Rutherford said he would set aside time to work behind the counter at each of Illinois’ driver service facilities. He said their employees want to do a good job, they just need the encouragement and technology to improve service.

“It’s going to be a hands-on Secretary of State’s Office on the service side of things,” Rutherford said.

Rutherford unveils customer-friendly plan for Secretary of State office

July 20, 2006 By: Steve Gonzalez, The Madison St. Clair Record

State Sen. Dan Rutherford unveiled a plan to transform the Illinois Secretary of State's office into a high-tech, customer-friendly operation during a tour of the Metro-East Thursday.

“Technology exists today to move the Secretary of State's office into a customer responsive, efficient operation,” said Rutherford.

Rutherford, 51, a Republican from Chenoa, wants to replace incumbent Democrat Jesse White in the November general election.

Rutherford's “Service Commitment” plan allows motorists to make online appointments and use credit cards. Rutherford also is recommending driver's facilities hours are lengthened and that the office send e-mail reminders for license registrations.

The Secretary of State's office is the largest “retail” operation in Illinois government, touching more “customers” than any other agency, Rutherford stated.

He contends that the Drivers Services facilities are a service business and are not performing well today.

Rutherford said he would like to spare customers of routinely poor service at the Secretary of State's office, such as long lines, lost records and wasted time and money.

“Deploying present assets in a different way is what needs to be done in the office of Secretary of State,” Rutherford said.

Archive: info gathered from Dan Rutherford's previous races

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