The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Quinn Wants To Put Illinois "1" License Plate Up For Bid

By Chuck Sudo in News on Jul 5, 2012 3:45PM

2012_7_5_illinois_1.jpg The cover story in today's Sun-Times looks at the Illinois No. 1 license plate, how it;s been out of circulation for over a decade and Gov. Pat Quinn's plan to put it back into circulation while raising money for a good cause.

The plate, which the Sun-Times says is the most coveted in the state, was last used by Dorothy Ogilvie, the widow of former Gov. Richard Ogilvie, in 2002. Prior to being in Ogilvie's possession the No. 1 plate, which dates back to 1907, was used by a litany of Chicago Roman Catholic cardinals and former Illinois Secretary of State Paul Powell. (Powell is probably best remembered for having over $800,000 in cash stuffed in shoeboxes in a Springfield hotel room at the time of his death.)

That the plate was available came as news to Quinn, who's lobbied for years to take that and other highly sought after plates and offer them to the highest bidder as a way of raising money for programs benefiting military veterans. Quinn, as lieutenant governor, estimated the state could generate as much as $25 million auctioning off single digit license plates. The question is would Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, who's been sitting on the plate for a decade without letting anyone know it was available, would be copacetic to such a plan. White spokesman Dave Druker told the Sun-Times “I think we’d want to look at it more before we could offer some insights into it.”

If a plan is put in place to auction the plate, it could command serious coin. A No. 11 Delaware plate sold at a 2009 auction for $675,000. As vanity plates go, owning No. 1 is a lot better than trying to pass "FKNNUTS" past the Secretary of State's office.