Political couple leaves legacy in Wilmette
Keats' have seen enough Illinois politics
by Alan P. Henry
March 18, 2011 | 11:42 AM
When Roger and Tina Keats drive away from their Sheridan Road home in Wilmette for the last time in a few weeks and head for their new home in Texas, they will be leaving behind a formidable political legacy.
Keats, who served as the Republican state senator for much of the North Shore from 1978 to 1992, worked closely with Harold Washington to enact legislation that adopt judicial sub-circuits for Cook County and cleared the way for minorities and Republicans to hold judgeships.
The reform, fought by many Democrats, was an integral part of the cleanup of corruption in the Cook County court system that was uncovered by Operations Greylord and Gambat.
Keats was also the point man for legislation that reformed the Illinois banking system by creating branch banking, which improved access and lowered costs. In addition, he pushed through legislation that brought the public transit system back from the brink of bankruptcy by requiring that fares cover a minimum percentage of costs.
"I was the last legislator to get the better of Michael Madigan and I did it three times," said Keats, 62. "We formed bipartisan coalitions to get those reforms, something that has not been done since."
After losing to Grace Mary Stern in 1992, Keats continued to run his construction business until 1994, became a manager with J.P. Morgan for 10 years and finally worked for Oppenheimer.
Along the way, Keats was also active in campaigns for Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and John McCain, and volunteered in the Chicago area on drug abuse and child sexual abuse issues.
Tina Keats, also 62, moved to Wilmette in 1988. The Harvard MBA graduate sold her baby bedding business in 1994, and got involved in politics in part because she had experienced "how government interference makes it hard for people to run a small business."
She ran unsuccessfully for state representative in 1996, then played a key role in Mark Kirk's first Congressional win in 2000 by helping deliver New Trier Township.
"He was behind when we started," Tina said. "We managed through grassroots campaigning to turn it around, and that won him the election."
She was Kirk's campaign manager in 2007.
Tina has also been active in local school board and referenda elections, including work that led to the demise of the Wilmette school caucus in the 1990s.
"What we have done is given voters a choice and we have fought for open government," she said.
They are moving outside Austin, she and Roger said, in part because of the weather and because family is there. But also because they wanted to live in a Red state with lower taxes, a stronger financial future and less corruption.
"This is a wonderful place to live," Roger said. "But I am tired of subsidizing crooks, and I don't want any more of it."
Because of the duo's strong history in state politics, they are in-the-know. And that isn't always a good thing.
"We have the disadvantage of knowing too much," Tina said. "During the last election I would talk to people about the state's pension liability and the budget deficit and they wouldn't know what I was talking about. Where does it stop? I don't know. Even states like California and New York know they have to do something to get their house in order. This state has not accepted that."
YOU CITIZENS OF ILLINOIS
May 08, 2011 | 12:23 PM
CITIZENS OF ILLINOIS - I have known Roger Keats as a classmate from Evanston High School days in the 60's to the time he entered state politics in the 1970's in the northern suburbs as a very bright, personable 'red headed' go getter that wanted to change Illinois for the better. It was impossible not like Roger Keats! You all know the definition of insanity coined by Albert Einstein….'doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. When applied to Illinois politics some of us have seen this insanity sooner…some later, and Roger Keats has finally got it right. He tired to make Illinois better, wanted to make Illinois better, and like so many in Illinois still wants you all to wake, smell the coffee and work to get it better. (Don't think for a second Roger doesn't want it better for you!....he does!)
Now, I lived in Evanston and Wilmette for over 40 years before moving to Florida in 1990 to start a business. While living in the idyllic Chicago suburbs at that time, I focused on my career, earning a living, and raising a family. Then the extras - the Cubs, Blackhawks, Michael Jordans Bulls, beautiful lakefront, Art Institute, museums, Bears, Northwestern, Malnati's Pizza, Portillos, etc. At the time, I loved Illinois, the rich diversity of its people, the upstate/downstate mentality, its rich place in history and thought the state generally well run, taxes high, but not as high as New York, and very colorful. Back then there was always work in Chicago for everyone who wanted to work. The new state income tax at 4% was going to put the entire state on an even stronger footing. We winked and grinned along with Mike Royko as he watched and told us humorously about all the Chicago political shenanigans from 'Da Mayor' to Washington, to Bilandic, to Jayne Byrne, to 'Da Mayor's son again, the park district, the sanitary district, toll way authority, cook county, etc.. Back then, all that seemed in order, normal, the way it was, everything trucking along just as it should. We then tuned in our floppy eared black and white TVfor Fahey Flynn at 10 pm for more soothing, tongue in check Chicago updates. Pie getting bigger all the time….Illinois getting smarter and stronger all the time.
After moving to Florida and returning often to the Chicago area over the past 20 years, I have gotten new perspectives each time on the "City that used to Work' and the State that surely "Doesn't Work." Roger Keats list of problems are the top ones that have manifested themselves in the past decade to save a political system that 'Doesn't Work.' You citizens of Illinois have been subjected to the worst political system outside New York's infamous Tammany Hall and allowed those that serve you do the greatest disservice and harm to the future of Illinois and its people imaginable. You all have been in this…winking all along the way! Roger Keats has just listed the results above. Wake up before you turn into Michigan!
Roger's sacrifice by leaving is Illinois, believe it or not, YOUR gain, if you understand the message he is politely trying to convey to you. If you will do something about it. (I wish he'd moved to Florida. He would fit right in here and Can make a difference.) Most of you in Illinois are still brain washed into thinking everything is normal and AOK, and you in good hands, like Allstate, but look around. Take a good look. This economy since 2006 has exposed everything that is bad in our society. What works and what doesn't work. What needs to be changed and what needs to be fixed. But how? The score card is the state UNEMPLOYMENT RATE, the PRICE OF A GALLON OF GAS, AND THE POPULATION. Take a good look at the score. The problems you have are all identified. Changing the mess you are in will take decades of men and woman's effort a lot smarter than me to fix your stew. It's about changing habits. About changing your attitude. It's about changing a Illinois political system that has rolled Abe Lincoln over in his Springfield grave so many times he is in a perpetual spin as we speak. Carl Sandburg, if alive today, could probably find a 'painted lady' in Chicago, but no broad shoulders and not one hog exists probably in the whole state. Where did the business go that drove the engine? Where are the mighty corporations of Illinois's birth? The Illinois Central Railroad-Now owned by the Canadians. The International Stockyards – moved to Omaha. International Harvester – Now owned by Fiat in Italy. Montgomery Ward, Carsons, Marshall Field, Goldblatt's, Weiboldts, south side steel mills, Old Chicago Beer, and many more all gone all together. Caterpillar would like to move out of Illinois today, as you are putting the tax squeeze on them, but they have just swallowed the Governors' 'chill pill' fix on their taxes. (Quinn is not that dumb to let them slide away!) However, that won't keep them from moving from Illinois. Probably to Texas! It's just a Band Aid on the problem of Illinois government. Just wait!
Now, if you still believe your elected officials have done a great job for the State of Illinois in its totality to date, your are part of the problem…continually fostering the illusion that you can afford the political mess you are paying for. The mess these guys and gals have put you in in the last decades. The dividend of HHD (Hopelessness, Helplessness and Despair) foisted on you Citizens of Illinois. Are you waiting for the next big political fix to make everything right? The political silver bullet? The ghost of Paul Powell and his 'shoebox' is what you are worshiping. Can the kool aid cocktail solution be far behind? One sip and you won't have to worry about Illinois's problems anymore. To start with, adopt this as the new state motto: 'ACTUALLY NOBODY OWES YOU JACK CRAP'. All it takes is a first step you Citizens of Illinois!
L. STOUFFER, former Wilmette resident
He's not moving to Austin
March 25, 2011 | 07:59 AM
As the text of the article says, he's moving to just outside Austin, and out here in rural Travis County and in the surrounding counties we're like a wall of red containing the Socialist Republic so it doesn't contaminate the rest of the state.
March 23, 2011 | 04:07 AM
Every state has an insane asylum, in Texas it is called Travis county.
As to your "sea of blue" comment the only "sea of blue" here are the Bluebonnets which are beginning to bloom. In case you have not noticed with the exception of a few "Chicago style" race warrior Marxist whack jobs like Sheila Jackson-Lee (and you can thank Ken Ley of Enron fame for her) most Texas Democrats would be considered "'reich whing" Republicans in Illinois.
If you want to see what the "average" Texas Democrat is like take a look at the current mayor of Houston Annise Parker. I bet you did not know that she is the first openly Lesbian mayor of a major US city, too. You see, despite what the MSM and your "progressive" fellow travelers tell you down here we really don't give a damn what color a candidate is or who they sleep with-it is their policies and agenda that count.
I, for one, say a big Texas "Howdy!" to Roger and Tina Keats, they are welcome here. What is becoming increasingly unwelcome are all of the blue state refugees coming here in droves because Texas is the only state that is actually creating jobs in the private sector. It is OK, though-we have ways of running all the die hard "liberal/progressive" ones off. We don't like taxes. There will NEVER be a state income tax. We don't like criminals, we shoot them-we have a little thing called the "Castle Law" which is known in the vernacular as the "He needed killin'" law. We view welfare as a helping hand not a lifestyle (ask all the "Katrina queens" about that-they cleared out once the fed money dried up). Folks here like to go to church on Sunday. We will tell you that if you don't like it here then don't let the door hit you in the butt on the way out. To top things off all the guns in the hands of law abiding citizens here make the "liberal/progressive" types really, really nervous.
Kate in Houston, Texas
I wonder if he realizes that he's moving
March 21, 2011 | 11:01 AM
to a sea of Texas blue.
Travis county sent Tom DeLay (R-Gerrymander) a strong message. Neighboring counties share similar reality-based viewpoints as well.
Watch out for those crazy rednecks. They're working class too.
A loss for chicago
March 19, 2011 | 05:48 AM
i wish i could get this couple and many more like them to come out and keep fighting to get back the city and state government.
My name is Tom Caravette and I am running in the 38th ward against a candidate that dumps money and lies to trick and confuse voters. Amazing about the old saying...razzle dazzle them and ... people just are not getting the message to move to reform and change. There might be something to the electoral college!
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