Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Madigan-Speak (or what to tell your neighbor about HJRCA#49)

Term: Byzantine – intricately designed to the point of confusion and convolution, often for devious or surreptitious reason ( ). 

 In November, a proposal to amend the Illinois Constitution will appear on the voting machine/sheet in your local polling place.  It seeks to amend the current section in Article XIII, Section V, of the Illinois Constitution that presently states the following:

Membership in any pension or retirement system of the State, any unit of local government or school district, or any agency or instrumentality thereof, shall be an enforceable contractual relationship, the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired.

Not surprisingly, the additional Madigan Amendment #49 to this earlier Section V is nearly 24 times longer than the original, simply crafted section. 
In fact, (see above) the original Section V is only 40 words.  This new addition in HJRCA#49 generated by Speaker Michael Madigan is nearly  933 words, and it reflects the kind of byzantine and convoluted writing that will result in myriad questions, perpetual litigation, and eternal public sector vs. government conflict.  

If you’ve received your pamphlet from Jesse White, you’ve had the opportunity to read it.  Confused?  You should be. 

Is this what we want?

Michael Madigan, the master of political magic, has witnessed, endured and orchestrated a myriad of byzantine maneuvers to cover himself and his position for 30 years in power as the House Speaker.

This last work – HJRCA #49 may be his finest masterpiece or his first accidental transparency. 

Madigan’s Amendment is Convoluted:  Employing ambiguous phrasing like “emolument increases,” and providing nearly 400 words to describe (or obfuscate) what determines a “benefit increase,” the proposed Madigan Amendment offers not much else than confusion in the present.  As for the future of those firemen, teachers, police, and public servants in Illinois, Madigan’s Amendment promises bewilderment at the very least and substantial pain at the very most: 

Nothing in this Section shall prevent the passage or adoption of any law, ordinance, resolution, rule, policy, or practice that further restricts the ability to provide a “benefit increase”, emolument increase”, or “beneficial determination” as those terms are used under this Section.

ResultsAdoption of this Amendment promises a new growth industry in class action lawsuits against the State of Illinois, myriad portals for eager lawyers willing to interpret sloppily written legalese, and uncertainty for prospective employees considering working in Illinois as public servants.  Say good-bye to good firefighters, police, teachers, etc.  Forget ever reversing the inequities for Tier Two employees.

Madigan’s Amendment plays upon Appearances:  HJRCA #49 looks like action, of some kind, and it plays on the emotions of those who have come to believe that the pension crisis in the State of Illinois can be solved by writing new law to prevent public servants from securing a retirement that media and politicians have decried as exorbitant.   

Reality: HJRCA #49 is the child of hysteria wrought by Tribune Watchdogs and others regarding the very few (and culpable) characters who have indeed taken advantage of pensions – but NOT the hundreds of thousands of retired workers who have dutifully paid into them for their lives’ services.  AND HJRCA #49 does NOT address in any way whatsoever the real problem with the “pension crisis.”  The Madigan Amendment avoids any real response to the unfunded liability of over $80 billion facing the State of Illinois.   In fact, Speaker Mike, who oversaw the increases in so many people’s benefits during his tenure in the House, bills that were passed nearly unanimously, has once again created a canard in which he appears to have done something popular while squirming on in his political career.  It is safe to say that the Speaker’s ability to generate the votes necessary to approve a benefit change or disapprove will not be affected by a 3/5ths requirement anyway.  This, once again, is just window dressing, for Speaker Madigan. 

Madigan’s Amendment (#49) is the last change we need. It will
  • ·      Concentrate and assure his continued power.
  • ·      Create litigation at all levels in our courts.
  • ·      Make it difficult to hire qualified future employees.
  • ·      Do nothing to solve a fiscal issue with the state’s pension debt.


1 comment:

  1. Madigan’s diction, such as “emolument increases,” is suspect because of an imprecise denotation or (perhaps) deliberate vagueness. This imprecision will create a problem of interpretation. Furthermore, the context in which “emolument increases” appears does not make clear what is intended; thus, it is (perhaps) a deliberate ambiguity as well.