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October 22, 2003

Statement from Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich on the Continuing Investigations of Last Week’s Tragic Fire in the Cook County Office Building

The Federal Bureau of Tobacco, Alcohol and Firearms, the United States Department of Labor, Cook County, the City of Chicago, and the Illinois Department of Labor are all investigating last week’s tragic fire that claimed the lives of six innocent people. 
Six innocent people lost their lives last week.  Our sole focus should be on finding out how it happened, what went wrong, and what we need to do to make sure it never happens again. 
I have asked Carl Hawkinson, my Deputy Chief of Staff for Public Safety, to ensure that the State is providing every possible resource necessary to aid the investigations, and to ensure that the investigations – including the independent commission to be named by Cook County Board President John Stroger – are proceeding in a thorough and professional manner.   If we have any sense that the investigation is not proceeding in a thorough and professional manner, we will appoint our own independent commission as well. 
Carl Hawkinson oversees all public safety and counter-terrorism activities throughout the State of Illinois.  He is a former State’s Attorney in Knox County, he served in the State Senate for 16 years, and is a former chairman of the Senate’s Judiciary Committee.  There is no one better suited in my administration than Carl to coordinate the investigations taking place in four different levels of government, and to ensure that each is proceeding properly and thoroughly. 
The State of Illinois will continue to support any and every body investigating the fire in any way necessary.  I have directed the Office of the State Fire Marshal to continue working with the Chicago Fire Department to help determine the origin of the fire.  In accordance with the Illinois Workplace Safety Act, I have also directed the Illinois Department of Labor to investigate any violations of workplace safety rules and standards. 
In addition, we are working with the Secretary of State Jesse White’s office to provide office space in downtown Chicago to help make up for space lost in the fire.  We will provide space for the Secretary of State’s office in the Michael Bilandic Building.
The focal point of every investigation, and of everyone involved, should solely be concentrated on finding out what happened, and what we need to do to ensure it never happens again.  That’s what the State of Illinois has done.  It is what we will continue to do.


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