The best thing any elected official could do is hire former Perry County Clerk Kevin Kern as his Chief of Staff.
He is the conscience of good government and, it seems to be a good fit for first term congressman Bill Enyart who was in Pinckneyville on Tuesday to tour the new Pinckneyville Community Hospital.
It’s a $31 million project for all of Perry County and $22.9 million of that comes from the rural funding unit of the United States Department of Agriculture. Congressman Enyart sits on the agriculture committee.
“It’s great to bring this infrastructure to this area,” he said. Administrator Tom Hudgins said it will be a chance for his staff to “do what they do in a different light.” Not only will it be a great hospital for a staff that has waited long enough to practice medicine in a new hospital, but it is built according to the latest accepted building practices, which includes being earthquake resilient. Enyart said its not a case of IF the New Madrid Fault unleashes an earthquake on the Midwest, but rather WHEN. “It may not be in our lifetime,” he said, “But, it will happen.”
For nearly an hour, Enyart and hospital administrator Tom Hudgins toured the new hospital and emerged feeling that the USDA had done its work well in funding the facility.
But, with the election only two weeks away it was a chance to talk about a successful first 20 months in office.
Surrounded by staff members who honestly believe Enyart has done more in 20 months than challenger Mike Bost has done in 20 years, he talked about the experience. He knows he has big shoes to fill in following Gray, Costello, Poshard and Simon to Washington.
“Those are their words, not mine,” he said.
“I have gone against President Obama and stood up for coal. I have the endorsement of the UMWA. I have stood up for agriculture. I helped pass the first Farm Bill in seven years. I have the endorsement of the Farm Bureau (and a democrat seldom gets that endorsement). He has the endorsement of the NRA, a huge lobby ad voting block.
A nearby aide commented, “And, he punches above his weight for the armed services” influencing new projects and funding for Scott Air Force Base.
His surprise visits to VA hospitals have caught the attention of the Veterans Administration.
He has been for raising the minimum wage to $10. “Mike Bost wants to lower it,” he said.
And, he caught everyone’s attention by demanding that decisions on disability claims be made within 120 days or the government must pay them by default.
The bill didn’t pass, but decisions on claims are coming much faster because he hit that nerve.
Then, there’s Kevin Kern. Good choice.