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Mushrooms golf while leaders work

Tuesday, Jul 31, 2007

This was obviously not a good idea, despite the noble goal…

The road to a budget deal in Springfield took a detour Monday morning, for a golf outing on the far South Side sponsored by the Legislative Black Caucus, to raise money for college scholarships.

One of the organizers, reverend and state senator James Meeks, says the outing was scheduled months ago when no one anticipated a marathon overtime session, and since they are not due back in Springfield until Monday afternoon, and there is nothing to vote on yet, they decided not to cancel the outing even though the budget extension they passed in June expires at midnight Tuesday.

“If there was legislative business for us to attend to, we would be there in Springfield. But since nobody has planned any meetings that involve us, we’re not there,” said State Sen. James Meeks, Legislative Black Caucus.

“It makes you wonder that why do we have all these state senators and representatives if they’re not really players,” said Jay Stewart, Better Government Association.

Stewart makes a good point. Yes, there was not a lot going on, and yes, hardly anybody showed up

When the Illinois Senate came into session Monday, there were 16 of 59 members in the Senate. The number doubled to 32 after the Pledge of Allegiance and daily prayer were finished.

Over in the Illinois House, there were 26 representatives of 118 on the attendance roll call for the 10th special session ordered for 2 p.m. by Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

However, it appeared that on the Republican side at least one of those lawmakers was absent and someone else had voted him present. Which would make the real number 25.

The House census increased to 67 during the 5 pm session, but that’s hardly an astounding figure.

Events like that scholarship fundraiser only serve to underscore the lack of any real power that rank and file members have - even though they have flexed their muscles and had more input this year beyond anything that has occurred in the recent past. They made themselves look like uninterested, uninvolved mushrooms.

Bad move.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Ravenswood Right Winger - Tuesday, Jul 31, 07 @ 9:35 am:

    I again ask why the ILGOP even bothers to show up for these wasteful sessions. Make a statement: “The Dems cut us out of the process during regular session, here is our proposal, the Democrats can wake us up when they get their stuff together.”

  2. - Highland Online - Tuesday, Jul 31, 07 @ 9:46 am:

    Thank Pat Quinn or whoever restrucutured the GA to give the 4 Tops all the power and the money to target the campaigns.

  3. - Yes Man - Tuesday, Jul 31, 07 @ 10:02 am:

    Highland is right. A change in the leadership process, and some sort of term limit or restriction on power is needed.

  4. - hello rich ? - Tuesday, Jul 31, 07 @ 10:09 am:

    “Mushrooms golf while leaders work

    They made themselves look like uninterested, uninvolved mushrooms.

    Bad move. ”

    PULEEZE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    NO budget; longest overtime ever; IL govt shutdown days away.

    And Richie says the above !

    EXACTLY WHAT ‘leaders work’ are YOU talking about?

  5. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jul 31, 07 @ 10:14 am:

    First, my name’s not Richie. It’s Rich.

    Second, the leaders are making some progress on the budget, as far as I can tell. And they’re doing a whole lot better without the governor in the room. Take a deep breath and relax. And try to avoid using all caps in your comments. It makes you look a bit off the hinge.

  6. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Jul 31, 07 @ 10:48 am:

    With Blagojevich refusing to deal with reality, and the three tops, (used to be four), cobbling together a plan without him, the General Assembly has given up hope for now.

    Until Madigan and Jones reach a solution, the legislators are probably feeling utterly useless.

    Yes, they can do something other than wait around, but it is safe to say that moral among the Democrats isn’t running very high. If you can’t even put together an annual budget, what makes anyone think they can do anything at all?

    The feelings are understandable.

  7. - Bill - Tuesday, Jul 31, 07 @ 10:52 am:

    It was a beautiful day!

  8. - Cogswell - Tuesday, Jul 31, 07 @ 11:16 am:

    It certainly points out the problem with the current system. When all are in accord, the 4 tops can get things done with exceptional efficiency. If we change the setup to decentralize the power, it will definitely slow things down, as caucuses, coalitions and factions form, break-up and re-form. That would remind me of the Israeli parliament system, or maybe the Italian one, where the government effectively overthrows itself on a regular basis. How they manage to have any continuity of programs beats me, seems like a lot of “one step forward, two steps back”. OTOH, we seem to be mired in that now, don’t we?

    Short of remaking the rest of the system, term limits seem ever more attractive as a way to break up the ossification. But let’s not kid ourselves; term limits on the elected officials mean the real power becomes vested in the non-elected campaign fundraisers and strategists and party leaders, people out of reach of the approval or disapproval of the voters. So we need to be careful what we wish for, lest we get what we ask for and not what we truly need or want.

  9. - Fake Bill - Tuesday, Jul 31, 07 @ 12:24 pm:

    I did notice that Rich Brauer (local Rep) canceled his golf outing due to the budget impasse. Calling them mushrooms is to kind.

  10. - Just saying... - Tuesday, Jul 31, 07 @ 12:26 pm:

    In general, I hate term limits. But while he is clearly the most effective and most powerful of the four, maybe its time for the Speaker to go. I mean it’s kind of ridiculous that absolutely nothing can get done in this state without that man’s say so.

    The legislature can overide the governor, but the Speaker has absolute authority. If you challenge that authority, you’ll get spanked hard, so it’s very difficult for any kind of palace coup. Lots of folks in the Capitol wish Madigan would just go away. This situation has only gotten worse with the back door collusion between himself and the AG.

    All of that said, this overtime clearly falls more at the doorstep of the Gov than of the Speaker. But despite attempts by a variety of lawmakers to suggest alternatives to this mess, the 4 tops are the only game in town at the moment.

  11. - Little Egypt - Tuesday, Jul 31, 07 @ 1:42 pm:

    Blago calls repeatedly for special sessions and at times not even a quorum shows up. Perhaps it’s time to yet again reduce the legislative numbers. Illinois gets along fine with two U.S. Senators. Maybe we could do the same at the state level and also mimick the number of Congressional seats (determine that number on the censum at the State level as well). It’s obvious that we don’t even need a governor if the 4 Tops can negotiate a budget that is veto proof. We’ve just got way too many chiefs and indians under that dome.

    As for all of Blago’s special sessions, this budget thing would have been hashed out before now if he had have kept his nose out of it. The only thing special sessions are doing is allowing legislators to collect per diem. I’m convinced if they had to come to Springfield repeatedly with no reimbursement, we would have had a budget by now.

  12. - Fan of the Game - Tuesday, Jul 31, 07 @ 3:27 pm:

    Perhaps Mr. Meeks’s golf outing will highlight the fact that too much power is invested in the hands of too few people. Changes should be made to the process so that the representatives and senators become an integral part of the governing process instead of “mushrooming” on the golf course.

  13. - steve schnorf - Tuesday, Jul 31, 07 @ 4:29 pm:

    Just Saying,
    I feel a need to remind us all, the Speaker didn’t seize power in a coup. Neither did the Governor. They are elected by the voters of Illinois, and in the case of the Speaker, then selected by a majority of his peers.

  14. - Just saying... - Tuesday, Jul 31, 07 @ 6:43 pm:

    No disagreement. But you of all people know how power works in this state. The only thing I can think of that will cause a change in the power structure of the House is if Lisa is elected governor. There’s no way Madigan could remain Speaker under such a circumstance. But since Barack will be elected governor in 2010, and Lisa elected US Senator, I’m not holding my breath.

  15. - North by Northwest - Tuesday, Jul 31, 07 @ 7:36 pm:

    Let’s just get rid of 58 of the Senators and 117 of the reps. That will save taxpayers a lot of money. All they do is what Madigan and Jones tell them to do anyway. I’m not sure what their value is. Does anybody else know?

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