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Black legislators not happy with guv

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2006

What goes around, comes around.

Black lawmakers urged Gov. Rod Blagojevich to take back his no-tax-increase pledge because of its impact on schools, warning Monday that the position could cost him votes.

“The governor cannot take the African-American vote for granted in the general election,” said Sen. James Meeks, chairman of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus. “There is no guarantee that that vote is going to be there, especially since those individuals who are African-American, their priority is educational funding.” […]

Caucus members haven’t discussed their concerns with Blagojevich, who announced his pledge last week when he launched his re-election campaign.

“Since we had to find out about it in the press, then he’ll find out about how we feel in the press,” Meeks said.


I thought the governor’s response was interesting.

Blagojevich declined to comment, issuing a conciliatory written statement:

“We…share many of the concerns expressed today.”

And here’s that quote from Meeks that I had in this morning’s Capitol Fax:

“If the governor does not take back his pledge, and if the governor is not willing to work with the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, it’s a third candidate that I’m hoping will step forward,” Meeks said.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Cassandra - Tuesday, Feb 28, 06 @ 8:26 am:

    I’m not clear why Meeks is pushing the racial aspect of the school funding issue if he really wants to improve school funding. That’s why I think this is more Illinois racial politics with an eye towards more state money, patronage jobs, and contracts for blacks in this instance. As the state becomes more diverse this is probably the future…a struggle for resources among ethnic groups, chiefly blacks, whites and Hispanics.

    As I understand it, school funding reform would require most Chicago suburbs and the collar suburbs, who tax themselves heavily via the property tax, to accept additional taxation with
    no increases in funding for their schools–even a decline in funding. At the end of the day, without major, permanent property tax relief,
    which seems to be almost impossible to bring about, it doesn’t seem as though the solution lies in additional taxation.

    Meeks would probably like to see most extra money going to the Chicago schools, which are viewed by many, as are all of Daley’s bureaucracies, as heavily laden with patronage hires and administrative padding. So that’s an additional barrier to universal support for additional taxes for schools.

    There are also the exorbitant salaries for school administrators and some teachers, lush retirement benefits for all school employees,
    lush health care benefits including retiree benefits, all totally unconnected to teacher or school performance. These are not confined to Chicago, I would add.

    As one of those Chicago suburbanites, paying a huge property tax, I have no problem with the governor increasing the schools’ share of the
    current budget pie….by cutting the huge, patronage-ridden state government management bureaucracy, cutting way down on legislator pork projects, even raiding “special” funds. And he could also mandate that a much higher percentage of Illinois school funds go directly into the classroom vs. into “administration.”

    But don’t raise my taxes and reduce my community’s school funding.

  2. - ron - Tuesday, Feb 28, 06 @ 8:39 am:

    meeks is just making the usual and standard statements by black politicians, when they want to get a better position at the bargaining table. in the end no matter how much criticism, blago will get 90%+ of the black vote. he knows it and meeks knows it. makes for interesting discussion on the blogs and among political wonks.

  3. - Ray Coleman - Tuesday, Feb 28, 06 @ 8:41 am:

    I applaud Rev. Meeks standing up to Blagojevich. I just don’t like the issue. It makes common sense for a person running for office not to say they are going to raise taxes. But this Governor isn’t a man of his word anyway. Many African-Amereicans don’t like this Governor, it’s just not reflected in the polls in Chicago because unfortunately too many African-Americans are still reluctant to support Republicans. Once more conservative Republicans get the message that abortions, same sex marriage and gun rights are not on the top of the main stream African-American agenda, they can do a better job of courting the African-American vote. Judy Baar Topinka understands this and that is why some of the more radical Alan Keyes type supporters are bashing the heck out of Judy. I just want to encourage Topinka supporters to keep the faith. Unfortunately Edwin is not in position to capitalize off of an unpopular Democratic candidate.

    I also want to thank the Illinois Committee For Honest Government for their endorsement in my race for state central committeeman in the 12th congressional district in the Democratic primary March 21st.

  4. - B Hicks - Tuesday, Feb 28, 06 @ 8:44 am:

    It’s political positioning, a pretty good move. This is the Reverend’s way of saying; you need us as much as we need you.

    I’m sure that things will get worked out, probably today.

  5. - Ol' Sparky - Tuesday, Feb 28, 06 @ 9:00 am:

    “The Gov. Cannot take the Af-Am vote for granted….”‘

    Who’s he trying to kid? Oh, yes he can.

  6. - ISU REP - Tuesday, Feb 28, 06 @ 9:16 am:

    I would just like to announce here at the Capitol Blog that I am the third candidate for governor! But seriously though, I think Meeks is making an idle threat, I would love it to be true but me thinks he’s just blowing smoke up ye olde capitol dome

  7. - Cal Skinner - Tuesday, Feb 28, 06 @ 9:43 am:

    Raise taxes or I’ll shoot you.

    Interesting tactic.

  8. - DOWNSTATE - Tuesday, Feb 28, 06 @ 9:58 am:

    Hey maybe we could put a tax on each bullet a terrorist shoots from his military weapon in Illinois.

  9. - Driver - Tuesday, Feb 28, 06 @ 10:13 am:

    Any one that takes Meeks statement seriously has a problem with reality. It’s just the old shakedown method that Jesse J has used for years to get more taxpayer money.Ninety percent of the black vote will goes to the democrats regardless of what the guv does…get real folks.

  10. - Anon - Tuesday, Feb 28, 06 @ 10:17 am:

    I disagree with most of the comments here. I think this could turn out to be a real problem for Blago in the general. I think the third candidate threat is an idle one. But Blago will need a good turnout from the African-American community to win. He needs to solve this problem–though he has plenty of time to do it.

  11. - DOWNSTATE - Tuesday, Feb 28, 06 @ 10:33 am:

    Gentlemen you need to get politically correct it is called PUFFERY not positioning.Gees just think our governor is so great he gave us a new term to use.

  12. - donchicago48 - Tuesday, Feb 28, 06 @ 12:25 pm:

    With all due respect to Rev Meeks, his posturing belies reality. It presupposes that raising taxes will somehow solve the education problems that plague Illinois. In reality, raising taxes will likely drive business and taxpayers from the state and exacerbate Illinois fiscal problems.

    In its series, ‘A Black History Month Tribute by the Cook GOP’, the CCRP has documented many eye-opening aspects of American history. Each daily installment of this article series ends with a statement from the CCRP and the Afro-American Republican Council. Here are two that I found particularly applicable to this issue:

    “It is time for African Americans to say enough is enough. As a group, blacks in this country have been taken for granted by Democrats for far, far too long. Democrats use the black population to get in power, but the black community rarely receives anything in return. The CCRP and the African American Republican Council want to fight for the black vote here in Cook County. It is time to recognize that as long as Democrats can count on the black vote without offering anything constructive in return, they will.”

    “We at the CCRP and the African American Republican Council call on all local governments to quit buying votes with handouts, to stop playing the pathetic patronage game that squelches innovation and competition, and to start leading our community forward through cooperation with business and promoting free enterprise. African Americans do not need handouts from the government to succeed in this country. What is needed is freedom, opportunity and self-confidence.”

  13. - THEGUV'SFRIEND - Tuesday, Feb 28, 06 @ 12:46 pm:

    WOW! and I thought that Meeks was the guv’s friend. Man, politics really divide the people.

    Blago probably didn’t know about their stance on raising taxes. For Meeks to play tit for tat, “we found out in the press so he’ll find out in the press” is childish. Everyone finds out whether the guv will raise taxes or not either from the press, a press release, the state of the state or budget address.

    Meeks and his supporters knew of the fact that Blago was not going to raise taxes as he has promised all along. If they wanted him to reconsider this time, why didn’t they have a meeting with him?

    Or is this Meek’s opportunity to try and step on Rod’s toes and get where Rod is at.

    I believe so………With the influence that Meeks has with Rod, he could have spoken with him one on one, explained his views and asked Rod to reconsider with offering alternatives.

    I guess he’s no longer the GUV’s FRIEND.

  14. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Feb 28, 06 @ 12:50 pm:

    Blago ain’t no Clinton. He’s more like Springfield mayor Davlin who has so disappointed the African American community that they stayed home in the last election. They were upset that more of Davlin’s family and friends got city jobs than all minorities combined. Some sure-fire Democrat favorites were badly beaten. Overwhelmingly Democrat precincts had only a handful of voters show up and that was it for the Dem candidates.

    Rev. Meeks could very easily keep a significant number of Democrat voters at home on election day.

  15. - Budget Watcher - Tuesday, Feb 28, 06 @ 2:23 pm:

    The Meeks comments were made for impact, with no real intent to divert or withhold the African-American vote in the General. Rev. Meeks knows the Governor needs the Black Caucus support to avoid any signs of weakness and is using this vulnerability. No different than the conservative right does to the Republicans. It’s called coalition government.

  16. - "B Team" - Tuesday, Feb 28, 06 @ 3:19 pm:

    The threat by Meeks gives blogo the out for his “no new taxes” vow. Once the primary is over and hair do is the dem candidate (God Forbid!), “no new taxes” vow will become so much campaign puffery. Remember that testicular virility said his promise not to fire prison wardens was “Classic Political Puffery” as a legal defense.

  17. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, Feb 28, 06 @ 3:21 pm:

    There are so many innaccuracies here, I’m not going to try to respond to each. But let’s get a few things straight:

    -The Governor knew darn well that the Black Caucus is unified in its support for a property tax swap. They - AND MEMBERS OF THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY — have been lobbying all candidates for Gov to forego the biannual “No New Taxes” Pledge.

    -Meeks is not bluffing, and while the black caucus would never support Oberweis, there are more than a handful of leaders that would take four years of Topinka over four years of Rod.

    -The Governor’s camp has, at the very least, hinted that they would not be making the pledge this time. For lawmakers who have made this their #1 issue to have to read about the Gov’s change of heart in the paper is insulting.

    -Even the Chicago Tribune appears to be considering support for a tax swap, and the Sun-Times, Southtown and Crain’s are already on board.

    -With Topinka and Gidwitz avoiding “The Pledge”, there was no need politically for Blago to bite the hook. He’s not going to need a pledge to beat Oberweis, and Brady appears out of it.

    -The pledge undermines Blago not just with African Americans, whom he needs to win, but also the Illinois Federation of Teachers, Illinois Education Association, and AFSCME, three major voting blocks.

    The Pledge was not only a policy blunder, its timing atleast was a political mistake. Blago should have been prepared to give a nuanced response: “We’ve balanced the budget every year without raising taxes, and I want to stay on that course.”

    All of this makes me wonder once again if the Governor is back to his old pattern of taking Illinois Democrats for granted and spending too much time daydreaming about the White House.

  18. - Driver - Tuesday, Feb 28, 06 @ 4:56 pm:

    (Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, Feb 28, 06 @ 3:21 pm:
    There are so many innaccuracies here, I’m not going to try to respond to each. But let’s get a few things straight:)

    Sounds like you have a condesending attitude to me, you can state an opinion without it, or can you?

  19. - Papa Legba - Tuesday, Feb 28, 06 @ 5:29 pm:

    Perhaps Meeks can give back some of the money he takes in at his mega-church and put it back into his community. Wouldn’t a real leader do that?

  20. - Reilly's Brother - Tuesday, Feb 28, 06 @ 5:50 pm:

    just a question, how can there be a 3rd party candidate at this point? Wouldn’t it have to be a write in?

    Unless Meeks himself (or another prominent Af-Am politico….Danny Davis?) decided to run, I think it would be excruciatingly tough to unseat Rod.

    However…prominent Af-Am takes votes in Chicago, EE takes some votes downstate (wishful thinking), Blago’s left to hunt for D votes in the collars and in Evans/Mazullo land…might just cause enough of a split to get the Gov out.

    Interesting play, if it was made a couple of months ago it may have worked.

  21. - Former MC - Tuesday, Feb 28, 06 @ 5:57 pm:

    Since his Daily Show duping, the Governor’s not sure who’s a real reporter and who’s a comedian. So, he could say that he thought the no new tax pledge was part of a comedy skit, and that he really was just joking.

  22. - Smitty Irving - Tuesday, Feb 28, 06 @ 9:49 pm:

    Lest we forget the effect of less than 90% + African American vote for the Democratic candidate, let’s ask former Governor Neil Hartigan … .

  23. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Feb 28, 06 @ 11:20 pm:

    Interesting comments here. I think that Meeks is surely up to something; to underestimate him will be Blago’s undoing. There is truly something in the air…

    The Yellow Dog Democrat was pretty much on point with his comments, and I can tell you that if enough African-Americans dont vote Blago will be the new Neil Hartigan.

  24. - Ray Coleman - Wednesday, Mar 1, 06 @ 1:05 am:

    Yellow Dog Democrat, you are right on time. African-American voters are going to show this governor and this state that history is about to be made. We are living in the time of changing of the guard. More and more African-Americans are understanding that history repeats itself. We voting Republican once upon a time, we are not able to go too far Republican now because of the conservative agenda, but we definitely don’t have to take the Blago crap.

  25. - Marta Elena - Wednesday, Mar 1, 06 @ 7:22 am:

    Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, Feb 28, 06 @ 3:21 pm

    Thank you for pointing out that the newspapers have endorses the ‘tax swap’. I researched the 15th senate district schools a couple of years ago when the No Child Left Behind Act was being implemented. My heart goes out to the legislatures in this area.

    I support Meeks in his fight for better schools in the area. You don’t see/hear many Dem’s publically standing up against Blago.

  26. - bbishere2 - Wednesday, Mar 1, 06 @ 2:48 pm:

    Rev. Meeks needs to stick to his pulpit or if he wants to get involved with politics, his operation can start paying their fair share of taxes, including their part of the real estate taxes that funds those schools who his “brethern” are so concerned with.

    How come it is that we can have a I.L.B.C whose concerns are chiefly “African-Americans” and no one thinks anything about it, but if we had a similar group to support Caucasian concerns, we’d be branded racist, bigotted, etc. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. You can’t have equality on one hand and then expect special treatment just for your group over another. That is racism, regardless of what color skin the person has that is expousing such things.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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