Monday, May 6, 2013

The Trib Calls Them Do-Nothings: That Makes Them True Statesmen

The Trib Calls them Do-Nothings: 
(That Makes Them True Illinois Statesmen)

For years now, the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago has run an ad in their favorite media outlet, the Chicago Tribune, threatening a head count on those in Springfield who stood in the way of the needed “reforms” to public sector workers’ benefits.  The ad was a full two pages of an empty-pocketed Abe Lincoln and a check list of the legislators.   Civic Committee leader Ty Fahner was the author, and the political intentions for legislators was purposely menacing. 

That was then.  SB512 and other corporatist plans failed to make it to the floor, mainly because of the bizarre proposals and actuarial gymnastics provided by Ty Fahner and his Sidley Austin accountants, as well as the worries of sensible members in the Pension Committee about the constitutionality of the proposed bill.  In fact, ironically, it was a conscientious then-Representative Daniel Biss who voted “no” and who was left in a room alone with Ty Fahner for nearly an hour after the committee’s vote to shelve SB512.  One wonders what exactly Fahner said to twist Representative-now-Senator Biss’ original concerns into his present-day loathing for the Illinois Constitution.

After the defeat of SB512, the blustering Fahner retreated from any blatant exercise of monetary influence and began his next strategy: to affect political will and sensibility by a gentler and kinder coercion via his multi-million dollar P.A.C. called We Mean Business.  

Perhaps Fahner’s new presence has worked.  Many legislators who first worried about the possible constitutional challenges facing SB512 did not hesitate to endorse Madigan’s amended SB1. 

My own Representative Monique Davis suddenly flipped to the Fahner/corporatist point of view.  Originally, Davis had stood alone against SB7, the bill that later generated the Chicago Teachers Unions marches and subsequent strike.  In fact, one of the legislators I talked to in 2011 characterized her as “Unique” Monique in a sinister tone of dripping in sarcasm.  But the old Monique is dead, and she ponied up to the recent Madigan demand just like the others now nicely haltered in his stable. 

Today, the Chicago Tribune ran the checklist for Ty Fahner, even though Fahner and the Civic Committee have decided to use money not so much for ink as for coercive influence.  But we can always count on the Trib to provide for the Civic Committee gratis.   

The Tribune’s editorial board chastised lawmakers who paused or voted against the Madigan amendments to SB1.  “Bottom Line: If your lawmaker voted ‘No,’ he or she voted to leave unsalvaged the miserable train wreck of state finances.”  The editorial board called them the “Do-Nothing Caucus.” 

Some of these “do-nothing” Representatives have already expressed their concerns and reasons for voting against the bill in emails and messages to constituents.  Some sight concerns about the constitutionality.  Others are distressed that there was no collaboration with the public sector unions in the development of Madigan’s/Nekritz’s draconian cuts.  Some have not informed us yet why they voted against the proposal, but they did so despite very heavy arm-twisting by both sides of the aisle (Rep. Cross & Rep. Madigan). 

The Tribune calls them gutless and wimpy.  I’m thinking Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Here is Glen Brown’s list of those who voted against Madigan’s cynical and mean-spirited bill.  Hope you can take the time to thank them for their stand.  You should.  This isn’t over yet, and as Marge Sucansky sagely pointed out, other bills may return in other forms to these legislators again at a later date.  Let’s express our appreciation.  

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