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A knight in shining armor riding a white horse to slay the dragon

Thursday, Apr 30, 2009

* More white hat, black hat from Patrick Collins

The head of a panel charged with suggesting ways to stop state government corruption challenged rank-and-file lawmakers Wednesday to stop seeking political cover from powerful legislative leaders and instead answer to those who elected them. […]

“There’s 177 legislators in the House and Senate,” Collins told the City Club of Chicago. “They should not be able to say, ‘Oh, I was for it, but the speaker wouldn’t put it to a vote.’ That’s what they say. We shouldn’t let them say that anymore.

“We should get people in there who will take a position and vote, or we should shrink the legislature even further,” he added.

Sure, Collins has a valid point about the power of the leaders - and not just the Democratic leaders. All leaders. If you didn’t know any better when reading his commission report, you’d almost think that it was a legislative leader who was arrested and indicted by the feds and not the governor. It’s obvious the commission targeted the leaders, and Madigan in particular.

But what’s with this John Wayne swagger stuff?

Collins did back off that last point, however…

Reached for comment later, Collins said he made an “unfortunate sarcastic comment” in jest and does not believe in cutting back the legislature, but stands by his comments about a need for accountability from all lawmakers.

Cutting back the legislature would just make it easier to control.

* Speaking of the Speaker, Gatehouse runs a story today that I’ve been following since January. Speaker Madigan has yet to reappoint former Blagojevich allies Rep. Jay Hoffman and Rep. Ken Dunkin to their committee chairmanships…

[Rep. Bill Black (R-Danville)] said it is no secret that Madigan is punishing Hoffman for siding with Blagojevich.

“That’s one way Speaker Madigan sends a message,” Black said.

But my all-time favorite quote comes from Rep. Dunkin’s mouth…

“Why has he not promoted Ken Dunkin, who is such the tourism authority in this chamber, who has promoted tourism throughout the centuries and the decades in the history of the state of Illinois? Why? Why, Mr. Speaker?” asked Dunkin.

Maybe Collins can intervene on his behalf.

* Related…

* Ethics advocate urges Illinoisans to back reform: “What this state needs a little bit more of is people who aren’t cowering in their shadow because they’re afraid of how somebody is going to react to the truth,” Patrick M. Collins told the City Club of Chicago on Wednesday.

* Schoenburg: Willis brings poignant perspective to reform push

* House Republicans press for full hearing on reform report

* A post-Blago `witchhunt’? No, says rep.: Jerry Stermer, Quinn’s chief of staff, addressed the committee about why any of Blagojevich’s cabinet members are still employed… He responded that Quinn’s program of “reform, responsibility and recovery'’ required experienced people. and that the performance of those directors is under continual evaluation.]

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Steve - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 10:28 am:

    Pat Collins is hitting at an important point: we need term limits on leaders.We also need term limits on all Illinois politicians.The problem is the public really doesn’t want change,they aren’t going to vote Mike Madigan out of office because of Madigan’s love for the status quo.

  2. - Stones - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 10:32 am:

    If my memory serves me correctly, when the IL House was cut back in 1980 (a Pat Quinn initiative), the number of bills introduced and the legislative leaders control of the proceedings increased to a great extent. Given that scenario, I don’t see how cutting the size of the legislature once again would accomplish the goal of reducing the control that the Speaker and President of the Senate wield.

  3. - A Naughty Moose - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 10:36 am:

    “Why has he not promoted Ken Dunkin, who is such the tourism authority in this chamber, who has promoted tourism throughout the centuries and the decades in the history of the state of Illinois? Why? Why, Mr. Speaker?” asked Dunkin.

    Yeah, Dunkin has cronies who need more cash. Remember this?

    You might have read a little story last week about a music festival in Chicago that was bankrolled by $200,000 of your money. The event, called the Move! Chicago International House Music Festival, drew a whopping 2,000 people. That translates into a taxpayer subsidy to the promoters of about $100 a pop for every one of the attendees. Despite the paltry turnout, state tourism officials who administered the grant said they were “thrilled” about the event … [I]t bears noting that the lawmaker, state Rep. Ken Dunkin, D-Chicago, funneled the $200,000 grant to an allegedly not-for-profit group that appears to be headed by a man sharing the same name as his former campaign treasurer.

  4. - wordslinger - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 10:51 am:

    If Collins has an interest in using the commission as a springboard to elective office, I guess we’ll know in a hurry. All the executive posts I suspect he would be interested in are up next year.

    I doubt if he’d be interested in GA or Congress — maybe Senator. Does he have a party affiliation?

    As a history buff and someone who likes to travel the state, I definitely want to hear more about the many lives of Rep. Dunkin and his centuries of welcoming Illinois travelers.

    For instance, on his days off, did Pere Marquette enjoy canoeing just for fun? Was Blackhawk a hockey fan? Did George Rogers Clark go by both names, just George, or GR? So many questions….

  5. - Skeptical Cynic - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 10:55 am:

    Good for Collins for telling it like it is. He is probably too candid to ever run for office but its a good thing someone like him is throwing wrenches into the machine right now.

  6. - Mighty M. Mouse - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 11:01 am:

    When people persist in not being specific by naming names, but instead dragging unnamed persons (e.g., “Blagojevich holdovers”) through the mud (Exactly which agency directors are we talking about, anyway?), you know that it’s a classic, good old-fashioned witchhunt.

  7. - Ringside - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 11:03 am:

    How has Speaker Madigan remained in power amid this ‘ethical cleansing’ in Springfield? Rumors and reports of questionable ethics, manipulation of the Speakership, and disproportionate power over his caucus have been circulating for years. Don’t his constituents scrutinize anything?

  8. - Jake from Bellwood - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 11:13 am:

    Thank you for the huge and heaping helping of hyperbole, Rep. Dunkin. Thanks also for referring to yourself in the third person said Jake from Bellwood.

  9. - Six Degrees of Separation - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 11:14 am:

    you know that it’s a classic, good old-fashioned witchhunt.

    And in some cases, “rhymes with witch” hunt.

  10. - Anon - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 11:16 am:

    Pat Collins 2009 = Jim Burns 1997

  11. - Scooby - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 11:18 am:

    From the commission report, this is the first recommendation:

    1. “Exempt” positions. It is widely acknowledged that Illinois state government has many more “political” positions than the other state governments and the federal government, where three out of every thousand employees are exempt from civil service protection. In the federal government, this means that approximately ten thousand out of three million employees are exempt from civil service protection. The greater the number of “exempt” positions, the greater the expectation of hiring and promotion based upon considerations other than merit. The current system encourages focus on employing a pre-selected person, regardless of the position to be filled or the public service to be provided. The Commission recommends reviewing the necessity and number of “political” positions and revising it to best serve the goals of (a) eliminating the hiring of less-qualified employees for political patronage reasons and (b) increasing the effectiveness of Illinois government.

  12. - Stones - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 11:39 am:

    Ringside: I think is a case of….He’s a Dictator but he’s OUR Dictator.

  13. - paddyrollingstone - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 11:40 am:

    Yeah, the cutback of the House really turned out well. I mean Speaker Bill Redmond was a Democrat from DuPage County and there were Republicans represented in the City of Chicago. Thank God they did away with that; I mean who wants less polarization by region and less leadership control of individual representatives? Who needs more minority representation, like Dems in DuPage and GOPers in the City?

  14. - Experienced? - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 11:40 am:

    It appears that Jerry Stermer has a different definition for “experienced” Directors than others may have. ISP and CMS come to mind. Let’s look at the resumes (and/or investigative reports) of some of these people in agency leadership positions - would be an eye opening experience. The people with long-term real demonstrated leadership, knowledge and experience are kicked to the curb at the whim of “new leadership”. Calling these new folks “experienced” is the joke of the day.

  15. - Anonymous - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 12:22 pm:

    Reducing the number of “exempt” positions will not increase the number that are selected by merit. With state employee ranks approaching 95% unionized, virtually nobody is selected by “merit”. It’s all seniority or politics.

  16. - Legaleagle - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 12:52 pm:

    Pat Collins’ report threatens everything the Speaker/Dictator has built up over the years in raw political power. Watch Madigan crush him like a bug!
    When are the members of his caucus going to show some backbone and stand up to his excesses???

  17. - MOON - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 12:57 pm:


    Collins is not “telling it like it is”. Collins is telling it the way Quinn wants the voters to think! Quinn knows the only chance he has of being elected is to dirty up the name of Madigan. Quinn has Collins doing his dirty work.

    There is no doubt the Speaker wields immense power,but he also recognizes the need for compromise. Go back to the days of Gov. Thompson, Edgar, Ryan when the Speaker always found ways to compromise and move the State forward.

    You need to recognige that the legislature is an equal branch of government. They are not there to just rubber stamp the wishes and desires of the Governor. Madigan was the only leader to stand up to Blago. Just think how much worse off Ill. would be if he caved in to Blago.

    Collins motives and talk are truly questionable. I personally think he his promoting his law practice and himself for future personal or political gains. The idea of term limits he proposes are ridiculous given the fact he does not think it should apply to the Governors office.Remember, it was the last 2 Governors who were indicted, not members of the legislature!

  18. - Not a Fed any More - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 1:11 pm:

    Somebody needs to tell Patrick Collins that he is no longer with the Justice Department and simple bullying doesn’t work in Springpatch.

  19. - David Ormsby - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 1:14 pm:

    Let’s get this right. The last two governors get indicted; one is in prison and the other on his merry way; but Patrick Collins & Co. targets the Speaker of the House for ‘reform’? Talk about the gang that couldn’t shoot straight.

  20. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 1:14 pm:

    If I didn’t know better, I’d say that he was continuing the RRB edict to “destroy the Madigan brand” on behalf of the new governor.

    But that would be even too cynical for me.

    I just can’t believe he would do that. He’s making some valid points about the power of the leaders, but he’s also sounding a lot like Rod.

  21. - MOON - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 1:32 pm:

    RICH 1:14 PM.

    If you know better , please share your knowledge with us. I am sure all of us would be interested!

  22. - Cassandra - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 1:53 pm:

    The directors of DHS and DCFS should go. There have been major human disasters under the watch of each, both Blago appointees, both with powerful Democratic political backing, both in charge of agencies serving very vulnerable citizens. I’m sure they are Democrats showing up for work every day and breathing but why should we have to pay out billions more over the next two years before we can get necessary change in these pork farms.
    Send them to Washington. I’m sure they’d be happy to go there-pays better-and Illinois Dems are in a good position to get public or private sector jobs in Washington right now.

  23. - Doubting T - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 1:59 pm:

    Hey give Collins some credit - he put together an impressive report in a fairly short time frame that is far better than anything the marginal reformocrats have come up with over the years. I think he’s being aggressive now post-report mostly because he doesn’t get the last word. It’ll be tougher for the leadership to swat this away the way they’ve done to the reformers over the years.

  24. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 2:58 pm:

    It is not Mr. Collins’ role to be preachy and condescending to legislators. That’s my job! If he thinks he can just muscle into my turf because he had a staff write up a report with the blessings of Governor Quinn, well he will quickly discover that being preachy and condescending will backfire with the role he has taken on.

    Asking legislators to grow a pair will not win him friends. No one wants to hear some political diva mocking them, then be asked for support. Collins will not get support by browbeating.

    If Mr. Collins has not yet built a team of state legislators before this time and needs to issue statements like this, his proposals won’t pass.

  25. - yorfriend - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 4:19 pm:

    Collins and all are missing the key point: What causes politiciains to raise money, legal and illegal and grey? Television profits! they gots to pay for TV ads. Restrict the cost of TV ads to 10% of normal rates, or force the stations to air free matching advts. from competing candidates. Remember, these are publicly owned broadcast licenses. A good answer is so simple.

  26. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 4:37 pm:

    ===What causes politiciains to raise money, legal and illegal and grey? Television profits! ===

    TV does not make politicians break the law. C’mon.

    Simple solutions are neither.

  27. - this old hack - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 4:57 pm:

    its not the “Reform Commission” Its the “Deform” Commission. Limit the terms of the leaders and not the Governor? The governor of Illinois already has more power than most in the U.S. This would give him even more.

    And, Ken Dunkin shoots his mouth off again. He ought to be careful. He already has a primary opponent, and some of his locals are getting restless. People are aiming for him. He knows this, and yet he keeps up this not funny sense of humor he has. In that, he has a lot in common with his former ally, Rod Blagojevich.

  28. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 4:59 pm:

    Is it possible that Mr. Collins is dressed like a parochial school nun and swinging his yardstick is because he has discovered that while they respond so sweetly to his report, the kids still prefer the class clowns to run the show?


    Mr. Collins didn’t do his homework, did he?

  29. - Arthur Andersen - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 7:57 pm:

    Note that Collins is not presently representing any defendants, subjects, or witnesses in any major criminal matters involving the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.

    There’s your sign.

  30. - wordslinger - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 8:11 pm:

    AA, good point. He’d have to move awful fast though, wouldn’t he?

  31. - Arthur Andersen - Thursday, Apr 30, 09 @ 9:48 pm:

    word, I dunno. He has been outta dere for 2 years…

  32. - jim - Friday, May 1, 09 @ 3:55 pm:

    Anybody who pays attention realizes Illinois has a dysfunctional legislature, run by two people (Madigan and Cullerton). I’m astounded to see Miller defending their outrageous exercise of political power. Obviously, the leaders should be among the targets of reform. It looks like reporters, like politicians, also can stay too long.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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