Naperville Turns Away from Rauner’s Turnaround. For Now.
At nearly ten o’clock this evening and after listening to well over 30 outraged Naperville residents, one exasperated and tired Council member reluctantly agreed that even the passage of their paired-down version of Rauner’s Turnaround Agenda would be all too symbolic of a victory for Rauner’s entire agenda, one which includes a direct attack on unions and collective bargaining.
The Naperville version had carefully expunged the “whereas” positions regarding collective bargaining and unfunded liabilities, but enough of the old language remained to aggravate a strongly union audience, which made it clear through various speakers their opposition to any of it.
“Empowerment zones,” speaker Dave Madsen cited, “are described by Rauner in his State of the State speech as regions in which fair share, collective bargaining, and unions can be avoided. Your dropping of the term ‘collective bargaining’ does not drop the intent in the governor’s own stated definition.” He went on to quote those sections of the Governor's speech listing the effects of such zones. The entire speech by Dave Madsen can be found at Glen Brown's blog.
In fact, most if not all of the Council members in Naperville seemed strangely unclear about any of the language in their own proposed, remaining ten position points. When asked about what empowerment zones were, they instead threw questions back to the speakers.
Various speakers, some still wearing their work clothes, proudly walked to the podium tutored them and the audience.
One council member asked if “anyone could tell me what the 280 unfunded mandates are?” People in the audience, realizing that the Council was looking at the adoption of a resolution without knowing what it meant, were concerned and understandably unsettled.
One articulate representative for union carpenters was asked if he knew what Prevailing Wage meant. He walked the members of the Naperville Council through the levels of pay, which are set in Springfield, not local entities. He explained why various states had different levels of Prevailing Wages. He educated the Council on the arduous but necessary path to a level considered a qualified professional carpentry. His answer seemed illuminating for them.
In fact, his explanation was so lucid and comprehensible; they even asked him to explain Illinois compensation for workers. (Again, these questions from a panel of a City Council about to move a resolution regarding these terms, concepts, and understandings – all of which could have significant impact on the people before them and the citizens not in attendance.)
He explained the complicated but necessary determinations of costs given for a loss of a finger, an arm (right vs. left), and an eye. He also explained what a traveling injury might look like from the perspective of a worker asked to go to another job site. Like an earlier lady at the podium, he reminded the Council these thresholds are set in Springfield, not on the local level. Many people urged the Council to let Springfield handle these issues.
Still unembarrassed, they asked the carpenter representative if he knew what the 280 unfunded mandates were. He threw his hands up and said, “Ask Rauner. He’s got a couple million to find the answer.” Applause.
Additional citizens appeared, warning the outgoing Mayor Pradel to avoid leaving this pathetic resolution as his legacy. Others warned the incoming mayor the passage of such a resolution would besmirch his own leadership for his term in office. Many more decried the continued attack by characters like Rauner on the middle class.
“Why would you bring this forward as many of you prepare to leave the Council? “Why this last minute push to put this resolution through as our Mayor and many of you prepare to retire from your positions? "Is this some kind of lame-duck action about which you’ve given little if any thought?"
After the open forum ended, two of the Council members described the phone messages they had received from Rauner. The governor had called each of them and asked them to push forward his Turnaround Agenda in Naperville. One was eager to describe how the Governor has no caller ID when he calls. The other still had his message on his phone.
“But now,” said one of them, “I can see that we cannot pass this without tacitly approving in appearance all of the agenda for Rauner.”
The incoming Mayor Chirico asked the resolution be tabled indefinitely, but he added that he was looking forward to “helping the Governor in some way to make Illinois great again.” Promises to review the Turnaround Agenda at a later date were proposed by many of the Council members. Chirico added, “We might all have to sacrifice.”