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White Governor's CAN Jump! But Why?

  If there was a most memorable scene during the last week in the Illinois budget battle, it was Governor Pat Quinn locked arm-in-arm, jumping up and down with a couple of demonstrators in Chicago's Humboldt Park.  It was a frenzied, crazed-looking hop-along, the likes of which have never been seen (and certainly never videotaped) in modern Illinois history.  The sight immediately prompted our new intern Steve Saltarelli to wonder out loud "Is this Pat Quinn's Howard Dean moment?" (see below)


   The Governor told reporters he was "jumping for the common good", if that makes any sense.  We can say with some certainty he had no job-related reason to be jumping for joy.   Burdened with a $9 billion deficit, the Governor at this writing still hasn't convinced enough lawmakers to support his call for an income tax increase to help balance the state's budget.   As a result, a so-called “Doomsday Budget” (as the Governor calls the plan recommended by the legislature) will be all that's left for Quinn to sign by the June 30th deadline.   The Governor says among other effects, it would eliminate the home care of 40,000 seniors and programs for the developmentally disabled, cause thousands of foster children to be returned to lives of abuse and neglect, slash the college scholarships of 184,000 students, and leave thousands of victims of sexual assault without support services.


  As an unelected chief executive, Quinn does not have the political muscle a governor builds during a campaign for the office.  He doesn't have the organizational help or money to offer lawmakers who might have re-election trouble if they vote for a tax increase.   So this governor has reverted what he does best:  rally supporters at mass, 1960's style demonstrations.  He has appeared with thousands of social services agency workers and clients at various events in Chicago and Springfield, but made virtually no progress in convincing reluctant legislators, especially in the house, to hop aboard his Tax Increase Express.  And remember that during the special session, a three-fifths majority is needed to pass an increase meaning he'll at least some republican support.  


  And what's worse, by this reporter's count, only a handful of the 28 democrats who rebuffed the governor during the regular session tax vote in May have been "turned around".   The democrat leader, "his excellency" House Speaker Michael Madigan, said he was powerless to convince his majority caucus to support the Governor.   Madigan, whose Attorney General daughter Lisa is mentioned as a possible Quinn opponent in 2010, flatly denies he's intentionally holding back support as a political ploy to make the incumbent look like a failure.


  But a failure is exactly what Quinn is beginning to look like.  There's the distinct possibility that July 1st will dawn without a budget, leaving the governor at the helm of a rudder-less, chaotic state government shutdown...or meekly accepting a one to six-months-long "temporary" spending plan recommended by republicans (and some democrats) that will make him look so very ineffective.  And with the democratic primary looming less than eight months away, it will be that much more difficult for a damaged Quinn to raise money to fend off the ambitious Lisa Madigan, who "hasn't made up her mind" to run for Governor or U. S. Senator.  Right.


  And a couple of Quinn's fellow democrats this week rushed to the front of the line to publicly question the governor's competency.  Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes issued a statement questioning the governor's budget strategies, suggesting the temporary budget approach.   And Rep. Jack Franks (D-McHenry) wrote in a statement that Quinn "has failed to show the bold leadership required at this critical juncture in our history".  

  On the Howard Dean observation:  Dean was the former, six-term New Hampshire Governor who ran for the democratic party presidential nomination in 2004.  He was leading in the polls until during an excited moment at a campaign event, shouted a bizarre, out-of-nowhere shriek (eeeeeee-yaaahhhh!!!!) that marked the end of any notion that he was presidential timber.


  Was Quinn's "Humboldt Hop" the beginning of his end?   Stay tuned.

Quinn Jumping






It's beginning to seem strange that folks are talking about Patrick Quinn, our accidental governor, as if he is slightly "off". The same was true about Blagojevich. Is it possible that Michael Madigan, the Speaker of the Illinois House, is the consistently "off" one, the one so determined to make any possible contender against one of his southwest side regulars (Lisa, his daughter; Dan Hynes, the son of Tom Hynes, both 19th ward regulars) look out of control, chaotic and even ridiculous.

Maybe we should wake up and realize that the mess we're in is because our state reps keep electing Michael Madigan to be Speaker. But supposing these same state reps started to lose their seats in the February 2 elections? Maybe they wouldn't be so quick to re-elect Madigan as speaker if it became clear that he couldn't protect his incumbents...

So, in the primaries in February, perhaps we should all think about singing this great song by Nat King Cole to our incumbent state reps:
"Hit the Road, Jack, and Don't You Come Back"

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