After reading this, I feel for those who have to cover the events down in Springfield
A whole new level of stupid in Springfield
Statehouse InsiderSunday, September 2, 2007
Just when you thought things in Springfield had maxed out at 10 on the Stupid Scale, along comes Gov. Rod Blagojevich to crank it up to 11.
Blagojevich sued House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, because Madigan won't convene the House on the exact date and time for special sessions ordered by the governor. Madigan is doing nothing less than trying to eradicate the constitutional power of the governor, the lawsuit says.
You could probably think of a situation where that might be the case. Say, a natural catastrophe hits the state that needs attention by the Legislature and either the speaker or Senate president refuses a call for a special session for whatever reason. That indeed would be a problem.
That isn't the case here. This is a case where the governor has used special sessions to bully lawmakers into giving him what he wants. Rank-and-file lawmakers have nothing to do during these sessions. It's just the governor thinking he can eventually wear them down by forcing them to stay in Springfield. It's a trivial and petulant use of special sessions that are supposed to be employed for serious purposes.
So now the governor is going to court to precipitate a constitutional crisis basically over the fact he can't get lawmakers to approve his health-care plan. You didn't really expect anything less of the guy, did you?
A closer look
The lawsuit also says it isn't enough that Madigan convene the House at the time and date set by the governor, he's got to ensure that more than half the representatives show up. The lawsuit lists several days when fewer than half showed up, meaning the House was unable to conduct business.
Of course, the lawsuit blamed Madigan.
Let's look at one of those days. On July 28, a Saturday, only 56 of 118 House members were present. Bad Mikey gave excused absences to the rest of them, thereby eradicating the governor's powers.
Want to know how many senators showed up that day? Only 15 out of 59. As a percentage of the chamber, the Senate had worse attendance than the House. Is Senate President Emil Jones, D-Chicago, named as a defendant in the lawsuit because he didn't force a majority of his members to attend that day? Nope, because Jones is Blagojevich's pal.
Comptroller Dan Hynes said it best. Blagojevich's hypocrisy knows no bounds.
Point of view
One part of the lawsuit describes the parties to it, i.e., Blagojevich and Madigan.
Blagojevich is accurately described as the governor, and the suit adds that he was "recently re-elected by the votes of over 1.7 million Illinoisans." Madigan is described as a state resident, House speaker and a state representative. "He represents one of 118 districts in Illinois. He was elected by approximately 20,216 votes in the 2006 election."
Take that, Mr. Speaker. You represent no one in comparison to the Great Exalted Oz. Apparently the courts are supposed to read this and summarily crush Madigan like a bug.
There's another way of looking at the numbers. According to official election results, 4,122 people voted against Madigan, while 1,750,000 Illinoisans voted against Blagojevich. Maybe the courts will notice the relative popularity of Blagojevich and Madigan.
Blagojevich finally got around to dealing with the budget more than a week ago, hacking $463 million in spending. At the time, he and his office were very careful to say he was not going to use the money to pay for his expanded health-care program, which coincidentally will cost about $463 million.
Then in DuQuoin last week, Blagojevich was asked if his cuts were politically motivated. Absolutely not, said the governor, who then launched into a lengthy dissertation about the need for expanded health-care programs. That is, the need for his expanded health-care programs, because he contracted many others through his budget cuts.
"The choice left to me was whether to allow ... these pro- jects to be in place or whether to bring those down and use that money to provide health care to more than 500,000 people," Blagojevich said.
OK, so apparently he's planning to use the money he cut from other programs to pay for his health-care plan after all. You know, it would be nice if these guys came up with just one set of fabrications and stuck to it for a while.
State Treasurer found a way to bring in money to the StateIn just the first week on eBay, thousands of items from abandoned safe deposit boxes have generated $34,150 for the state.
“In the past, we would auction off all the items once a year under a tent at the state fair. I thought it would be a tremendous advantage to introduce items to a worldwide audience on a year-round basis, which will increase revenue to the state,” Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias said. “Additionally, we have efficiency gains and streamlined services.”