Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich this week named former budget official Bob Greenlee to fill the position of deputy governor being vacated by Sheila Nix after four years.

“Sheila Nix is one of the most dedicated and capable people I know. I want to thank her for all her hard work over the years and for helping steer important initiatives like expanding health care for Illinoisans and providing all seniors in Illinois with free public transportation,” the governor said in a statement. “I look forward to working with Bob Greenlee. I know he has the expertise and commitment to the public to help us keep Illinois heading in the right direction.”

Greenlee will be based in Chicago and will oversee the administration’s policy and legislative efforts. He previously served as deputy chief of staff for the state’s infrastructure agencies and as the deputy director of the governor’s Office of Management and Budget. Greenlee also worked as a lawyer in private practice in Chicago before joining the state.

“I am looking forward to the challenges ahead,” Greenlee said. “Illinois, like states across the country, is experiencing an economic slowdown that impacts families and businesses statewide. Gov. Blagojevich is keenly aware of the important role the state can play in helping families and stimulating the economy. I’m excited to have the opportunity to help him achieve his goals for the people of our state.”

Nix said she was leaving to spend more time with her family and that her departure was not tied to the heightened federal scrutiny Blagojevich faces as part of a federal probe into state corruption. Speculation is growing that federal authorities are targeting the governor following the conviction last week of his former fundraiser and adviser Antoin Rezko on charges of engaging in pay-to-play schemes involving state business. Allegations surfaced during the trial that the governor rewarded a contributor with a high-ranking state job.

In a separate issue involving the governor’s office last week, a Sangamon County Circuit Court judge found that he has the right to set the dates and times of special sessions of the General Assembly.

The court ruling came in response to a lawsuit filed by Blagojevich against House Speaker Michael Madigan after Madigan refused to set the dates and times of some special sessions as requested by the governor last year to resolve a budget impasse. The ruling said that while the governor has such power, reasonableness and cooperation should dictate when special sessions are convened so as to avoid abuses of power.

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