Cal Skinner of the McHenry County Blog requested pics from my trip to Springfield, and there is no better place to start than this surreptitiously taken photo of Julie Cellini.
That's Julie up there with the blond hair, in a Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum mural depicting a crowd scene celebrating General Lee's surrender to Grant. (Cal reminded me that Julie was in a painting there.)
Photography is not allowed in most areas of the museum. I used my First Amendment rights, and my Treo 650, to take the picture.
Just who is Julie Cellini? She's the chair of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, which oversees the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library.
Julie is also on board of the maligned Abraham Lincoln Bicentenniel Commission, something I talked about here.
Mrs. Cellini got where she is through her husband, William Cellini. He used to be a big-time Republican powerbroker, now he's closely tied the administration of Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
Cellini owns some buildings that he leases to the state. In a recent lawsuit, Bill Cellini was accused of making hiring and firing decisions for the Illinois Gaming Board and the Illinois State Police. (The state police lease a Cellini building.)
Cellini's switch, unofficially at least, to the Democratic Party, goes back to 2002 when Republican Jim Ryan was Blagojevich's opponent for governor. Seven years earlier, then-attorney general Ryan blocked a settlement of the debt on the inn now known as the Abraham Lincoln Hotel for just 25 cents on the dollar--Cellini got a loan from the state for the building of the hotel. Ryan said that the state treasurer, Judy Baar Topinka, a Republican, didn't have the authority to settle that debt.
Fairly soon, the state treasurer's office is expected to foreclose on the Abraham Lincoln Hotel.
This being Illinois, there of course is a Tony Rezko tie-in. In Rezko's October indictment, Bill Cellini is referred to as "Individual A."
But the mural with Julie in it is nice.
Oh, I almost forgot, there is a Julie and Bill Cellini "Ask Mr. Lincoln" exhibit at the Lincoln museum.
I should've asked Mr. Lincoln, "Can you get the Cellinis kicked out of the museum?"
The museum, which opened in 2005, is well-worth visiting. More on the museum, sans Cellinis, in a future post.
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