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IDOT chief Timothy Martin resigns


Springfield, Ill. – Illinois Transportation Secretary Timothy Martin, whose agency is part of a federal investigation and which was hit by scandal over a pressure-washing contract, resigned Friday.

Milton Sees, the director of highways, was named acting secretary.

Martin joined the administration in February 2003 and oversaw IDOT's $10 billion annual highway improvement program that combines state and federal money.

But road improvement was hampered by bickering between Gov. Rod Blagojevich and the General Assembly, which has refused to approve billions more for annual infrastructure improvements since the Democratic governor took office.

Blagojevich praised Martin, saying he "was instrumental in modernizing and making IDOT more efficient, and focused the agency on better using technology to accomplish its goals."

In a statement, Martin thanked Blagojevich but gave no indication of why he is leaving or what he plans to do next. Spokesman Matt Vanover said he will take a private-sector job.

Blagojevich acknowledged in October 2005 that IDOT was one of several agencies that federal prosecutors subpoenaed for hiring records. The others were Blagojevich's office and the Departments of Corrections and Children and Family Services.

No one has been charged with wrongdoing, but U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said last summer he had credible witnesses to "endemic hiring fraud" in the Blagojevich administration.

Martin's director of finance and administration, Robert Millette, resigned in summer 2005 after The Associated Press reported that Millette was instrumental in getting a $500,000 contract for his brother-in-law's company to pressure-wash IDOT buildings, interstate rest area structures, bridges and even the interiors of salt-storage domes.

The AP reported that the company was paid $7,000 to pressure-wash a brand-new, unused salt barn and spray the concrete with a corrosion-resistant chemical, repeating work that had been done by the builder months before.

Martin and Blagojevich initially stood by Millette, saying he had recused himself from anything dealing with the firm, but the AP reported Millette had sent e-mails the previous fall wanting to know whether the deal had been signed.

Martin also was personally responsible for hiring a man last spring to travel Chicago-area streets and report on whether traffic lights were functioning. The AP reported earlier this month that the man walked out on the contract and was paid $3,000 for data that IDOT has not used.

Martin, 50, had been chief operating officer of the Chicago Public Schools before joining the Blagojevich administration.

Sees, who came to IDOT from the private sector just over a year ago, will assume Martin's responsibilities until Blagojevich nominates a permanent secretary, who must be confirmed by the Senate.

The 60-year-old Sees makes $101,000. Martin was making $128,000.


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