After months of promising a major grass-roots effort to win public support for reforming the state’s government worker pension system, Gov. Pat Quinn on Sunday unveiled a plan that featured an incomplete online strategy, children wearing red plastic megaphones and an animated “Squeezy the Pension Python” mascot.
There were, however, no solutions offered on how to fix the nation’s most underfunded retirement system.
The Democratic governor, known for a style that sometimes veers into the corny, attempted to jump-start the pension overhaul push by lauding the power of “the people of Illinois, good and true” through what he called the “electronic democracy” of Twitter and Facebook. Quinn went so far as to encourage families gathering at the Thanksgiving dinner table to “speak to each other” about the pension crisis.
The approach left some lawmakers questioning whether the governor demeaned the severity of one of the most pressing unresolved problems facing state government in Illinois. State Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, called Quinn’s strategy “juvenile.”
If someone could kindly go and remove the sand from formby beach before tomorrow morning i would be very greatful. #thanksinadvance
* Finding the accompanying Facebook page ain’t easy, but here it is. Check out some of the comments…
#Peggy Glatz: How about politicians work for minimum wage FOR ONE YEAR. That would fix a lot.
#John C. Gallagher: What about the grants given to the families of large campaign funders? Maybe some of that money could have gone to funding the pensions in prior years. Always easy to say this caused that, Governor Quinn, but how does it feel coming the other way?
#Bob Madura: Posts are being deleted from this forum !
* But most of the comments are focused on the thing that Quinn’s new website completely ignores…
#Jim Johanson: Don’t Penalize The Employees Who Made Their Contributions…While The Politicians Underpaid The Pension Funds For Decades!!!!
I am astounded at how the video sweeps under the rug the real reason for the squeeze - that the government stopped paying its share while the workers never did stop paying theirs.
Also, that video is aesthetically a mess, a jumble of unrelated clip art off the internet. It distracts from the speech, more than it illustrates. After such a long wait for this we expected something more. I give it a c-minus.
While the web site is mostly factual, it is also slanted. While they mention it, they don’t spend much time on the underfunding. The COLA example cheery picks numbers to make their case; back it up to, say, 1970 and you will see the 3% COLA has been dead on for that period. No mention I could find of the Constitutional protection of the pensions.
Just viewing this site, it seems more like a campaign to (semi) educate the public on why the pensions need to be paid and laying the groundwork to eventually push for a tax increase.
Also, the domain name registration is a bit screwy. If you whois the name, it comes back registered personally to Mica Matsoff (the Gov’s spokesperson) with, I assume, his home address since that address is a residential building in Chicago. And it uses the .com suffix reserved for commercial businesses rather than the .gov suffix. While the use of those suffixes is often mixed up, with the name / address it does make you wonder exactly who is behind it.
Got an email from Quinn basically saying that pensions are a monster eating up IL the same week as an invite to his fundraiser on his bday. Guess what? I’m a union member who is still waiting on my raise promised in the binding contract he signed. I think the governor has an oversized sense of his own relevance, importance, and entitlement.
This is part of a growing list of “things” others are doing/did, that I would have thought about and said, “Nah, that is too dopey, I try ti be better than that … I fail, but I try to be better than that.”
I think @FakeJasonPlummer and @Stanley77 tweeted about Squeezy so I am not following them anymore!
He would have been more effective pitching it as “I’m retiring in two years, and as a future Illinois pensions recipient myself…” Of course, admitting he’s done right now makes him irrelevant for the nex
hhaha I couldn’t even finish that though. Good luck Pat.
- Old and In the Way - Monday, Nov 19, 12 @ 8:53 am:
Where do you start on an effort like this? The first time I saw it I predicted a collective yawn, upon reflection I predict a collective laugh! This is it? After months of waiting and “planning” this is the best Governor Dufus and his crack staff could do? This is why we can’t trust them to have any meaningful role in the pension issue…….they are simply not competent! By the way taking away retirees pensions is not reform…..it’s theft!
==And we’re paying someone how much to create and promote this ‘campaign’?==
Bingo Cindy Lou.
Did the governor pay a creative shop to dream this up and implement the campaign, and if so, which one? Or is this debacle the result of a contest he ran for third graders to submit their ideas on pension reform?
I’m stunned Gov. Man Cub colored Kaa, I mean Squeezy, orange rather than AFSCME green.
- The Elderly Man You Used to Love - Monday, Nov 19, 12 @ 9:04 am:
What do you say to 30 kids to make them attend a Sunday press conference? Are they the kids of political cronies, or does he find the kids at random and give the parents $20 if the kids will stand behind him?
Abdon Pallasch, call your office. We understand bud, the idea to leave for a government job, sounded so good, so much chance to do something good, but then you got sucked in and were forced to put up with this. It’s ok, you can come back, the right won’t hold it against you, the sun-times will give you your job back and let’s just forget this ever happened. Before you become lucio guererro and end up in 5 months doing a chicago tonight “I meant well and thought well going into the job but then it just blew up all over me”.
New and improved for the holiday season! It’s Squeezy the Pension Python. He chokes, he strangles, but most of all, he cuddles! Don’t let your children be without their very own squeezy doll.
Squeezy, just as spineless as your Governor, slippery as the Speaker, and as underhanded as the whole lot. Don’t try catching him, just like any real pension reforms, this snake will be lost in the grass before you have a chance to grab him.
*Available at all Al’s Toy Barn locations in the Tri-State area. May present a choking hazard, batteries not included.
Oy. The hissing imposed over the latter half of the video, the implication that the Evil Pensions threaten children and All That is Right and Good in Illinois… And am I wrong in thinking the bit with the student is blaming pensions for the death of legislative scholarships?
I swear I’ve seen “Squeezy” before, but a quick perusal of Kaa images on Google doesn’t seem to support them being the same. At least to my eye. Any expressive cartoon constrictor is going to look fairly similar, but my hunch is that “Squeezy” was cribbed from some other source or from some Jungle Book spinoff. And if you try looking for yourself, fair warning: Leave Safe Search on.
Quinn has the most to lose politically both from a bungling of pension reform and/or yet another Quinn income tax increase. The next big election coming up in Illinois is the one in which he will almost certainly be running–the Democratic gubernatorial primary.
So is this self-destructive or merely manipulative. This is a silly way of claiming he is for pension reform, but maybe voters are more likely to remember it than more informative media pieces on the subject. And if it doesn’t happen and he has to raise taxes? We’re supposed to remember that he tried.
I think RNUG is correct–this is a runup to a tax increase. You’d think we’d see through the Quinn/AFSCME Kabuki dances by now, but I’m not optimistic.
Speaking of Kabuki dances, what’s happening with the increases in state retiree health insurance charges. I understand they haven’t started charging the additional fees yet–or even determined what they will be. If the Quinn admin can’t even get that done, how likely, really, is pension reform.
===Who launches an important media campaign on the Sunday before Thanksgiving? Is anyone even paying attention?===
This is a “soft Open” … The word of mouth for all the political types during Thanksgiving will lead to the 100% roll out of such incredible Tweeting, Pongee might even get off The Facebook and on The Twitter!!
Policy … via The Twitter … snarky … with Cartoon Snake …
===I just can’t wait to gather around the dinner table Thursday for a nice long discussion of pension reform.
Fortunately my sister has gagged my Brother-in-law over politics and religion so this will hopefully be avoided. As long as the Bears win tonight, I am pretty sure we can all agree on that and enjoy the dinner.
Stay tuned for the next exciting espisode featuring our governor as cartoon hero Rikki Tikki Tavi slaying Squeezy the big bad pension python. Please tell me my tax dollars are not funding his animated fantasies…
I’m wondering if this is a textbook example of too many “yes men” surrounding the boss. Nobody over there bothered to question this approach or what it does to further diminish his credibility? Really?
Yet again, the governor who often speaks to us as though we are kindergartners insults our intelligence again. This top down, grassroots campaign will do nothing but amuse some and offend others. It seems as though there is little interest in receiving input from constituents based on what I’ve seen. Asking people how they would like to see this problem solved, rather than making a lame attempt at rallying people behind his vision for a solution would be a good start at improving this campaign.
And what’s all this about discussing pension reform at the table on Thanksgiving? Some of us leave the state for the holiday. Others of us don’t/can’t talk politics with the people that gather for the holiday.
== And what’s all this about discussing pension reform at the table on Thanksgiving? Some of us leave the state for the holiday. Others of us don’t/can’t talk politics with the people that gather for the holiday. ==
It’s a bit like when my dentist talks to me about flossing…
Hogwarts- Harry Potter, (G - London), Has just stabbed the Python through the mouth with the Sword of Cedric Gryffendor. Though first reports were unofficial, this “Chemical Ali” video, taped in 1975 because of the clothing and dialog has been thrown out to dispel this rumor, but Mr. Potter confirmed the demise of the Python just moments ago.
“By the Sword of Cedric Gryffendor, I slay Squeezy the Python. This outdated, ill-porduced video, from a VCR which had pop spilled in it, shows. The only weapon strong enough to take out this Spoof better was the ‘Madi-Knife’ but its powers can only be wielded by Michael Madigan himself or Sirius Snape.”
A stunned Pat Quinn, (D - Chicago) continues to point the the video as proof positive a Spoof to promote negative policy action works.
Ginny Weasly (G- the Scottish Plains) was unhurt, again.
A little-known email was sent to Governor Quinn around State Fari time, which was a Game-Changer and led to the creation of Squeezy.
“Dear Governor Quinn,
It has been brought to the Legal Department’s attention here that you intend to introduce a cartoon animal to explain a policy issue and energize the grass roots of Illinois in taking part in the pension problems facing your great state.
While, as a corporation, we encourage the exchange of thoughts, and would love to assist government in moving forward to make, for example, your state, a better place for its citizens.
While we seem to be in concert with your thoughts, an “Alligator that ate a clock” is indeed the property of ABC/Disney, and any attempt to use a “tickig Alligator” as the cartoon poster child for your Grassroots efforts will lead to litigation. We appreciate your cooperation.
Have a ‘Diseny’ Day, and stop with the ‘Ticking Alligator’
A few things come to mind after seeing the clip. 1. It was 70 years worth of legislators that misspent and created the probliem, but employees paid in. 2. Why are we listening to rich fatcats; was not the nation wide referendum November 6 loud enough to be heard. 3. I’m reminded of that graet line ina movie: “Don’t pay any attention the man behind the curtain.”
Hell must be frozen over, I actually agree with Jack Franks. However, I am amused that he called the Governor’s action juvenile. Hey Jack, that’s the pot calling he kettle cast iron. Would you classify that all your attempts to pandor to the media and populists as Juvenile? You are a bigger joke than Quinn and the biggest Media W#%@e in the General Assembly. You actually probably learned something from the website because you have no clue about this issue.
Far Far Away - A Cartoon attorney representing the Cartoon Villans Union #650 based in Far Far Away, is filing an injunction with the state of Illinois and with, specifically, the Governor of the state, Patrick Quinn. This legal response was brought on by the Local as an answer to ‘Squeezy the Python’ as a villian to Illinois Pensions.
Standing with Cruella De Ville, Snow White’s Witch, and Lot’s O Huggin Bear from Toy Story 3, the legal action was read to all animated squirrels and bunnies, as is the tradition in all evil proclamations.
“We can not let Pat Quinn have a ’scab’ villian scare Illinois. We at Local #650 Demand to see Union Credentials for ‘Squeezy’ and if those credentials are in order, why do we not have ‘Squeezy’ on our books as a member. This travesty must end, and we will end it through the legal means of the real wordl, not our Cartoon World.”
Cartoon Villians Local #650 was founded too long to remember, and by too many villians to count.
Local #650 has yet to hear from Illinois, the Governor’s Office, or ‘Squeezy’ regarding the litigation.
At the staff meeting where Pat lays out his grass roots plan, including Squeezy, of which he is very proud, he looks around the table and says, “Let’s do this in-house. Anyone here on Twitter?” And across the table, @PatQuinnsBrain quietly closes his computer….
OMG. This is so laughable. Really, you had to includee: “The word itself comes from the Latin ‘pensio’ (’a payment’).” This couched in a site that looks like a cartoon for kids. It’s also so sad that this is type of product developed by the Quinn’s office. One Man, OW, Bill and so many others have made so many good comments all I can say is “me too.”
Like RNUG, the video had a mixed message. For example:
- promises are made all the time, some that can’t be kept. (So is Quinn saying that we should or shouldn’t keep promises.)
- pensions were needed to attract quality employees because of poor salary. (So quality people aren’t important now. Plus, MC staff have actually had decreases in salary in the form of furloughs over the last 6 years.)
My Thanksgiving meal conversation will focus on how Quinn is attacking public employees with a cartoonish website.
Ok, as usual I will question the convention wisdom that I’m reading on this and other blogs.
First and most important, the Governor is doing something. He is engaging dialogue and and hoping the issue is presented to a wide audience. Part of that audience appears to be kids, which does make sense. Kids are a great target audience when you want to get their parents to take an issue seriously; recycling and anti-tobacco campaigns come to mind in this regard. So, a cartoon character there makes some sense.
And I would note that based on the huge volume of comments here, it’s getting the job done in terms of talking about the issue, albeit with some snickering involved. So I say, Squeezy do your thing.
“some snickering”? This is perhaps the dumbest things I’ve witnessed at the Capitol in decades. If you think this is a good approach, please submit your resume to the Quinn Administration. There’s probably a six-figure assistant director of something available for you.
===First and most important, the Governor is doing something. ===
What? Seeing if Stan Lee has an opening? Sending drawings to Hanna-Barbera? If being put in a position to be mocked for an inept answer to “what are you doing about pensions” Cartoons?
===He is engaging dialogue and and hoping the issue is presented to a wide audience. Part of that audience appears to be kids, which does make sense.===
If you call the Members of the General Assembly “kids”, while some may mock that, the audience Qunn needs to engage are adults, and the adults of the General Assembly. All the kids want to know is what color to make “Squeezy”. You give a simple explanation, I will give simple mocking. Kids are far smarter than we want to admit, but THAT is the best way to attack this?
===Kids are a great target audience when you want to get their parents to take an issue seriously; recycling and anti-tobacco campaigns come to mind in this regard.===
Kids aren’t making the debt, adults are. Kids were smoking, so having ads towards kids made sense. When a kid does NOT pay the pension obligation, then you can go with a cartoon.
===So, a cartoon character there makes some sense. ===
No sense, adults do NOT pay the pension-obligation, kids just DON’T pay their parents back for songs they buy on iTunes, for example
===And I would note that based on the huge volume of comments here, it’s getting the job done in terms of talking about the issue, albeit with some snickering involved.===
Some? That is like the Captain of the Titanic saying, “We have a minor ‘leak’. Sometimes press can be bad, and make you look silly and out of touch with problems. This is that choice, and these are those posts. Not good at all.
===So I say, Squeezy do your thing.===
What, make Quinn look like a Buffoon? Well than, “Squeezy” did that, “Squeezy” squeezed all the sanity and leadership out of the room. Sucking all the air out of the discussion is world class bufoonery.
Wow Michelle and Willy - I did say I was defying the comment Board’s conventional wisdom. As Al Gore famously said, “there’s no need to get snippy about it.”
You may likely end up being correct that this will turn out to be a PR dud. But all I’ve heard is criticizing this approach - no ideas on what might be a better approach that hasn’t already been attempted. And by the way, I’m not in the Quinn Administration or employed by any governmental body. Nor would I want to be.
There are just too many smart people outside of government who have all the answers. Best never to try anything different when what’s been going on before has worked so effectively. Why would anyone want to work for the government and actually try to get something done?
Phocion, if you think this is actually “doing something” you’re right. It’s making Quinn look like a bigger doofus than I thought was possible. I mean, seriously, how can the people on his staff look at this nonsense and think it will be taken for anything other than what it is? Did the idea meeting go about like this:
“Hey, let’s make a cartoon snake and get kids and their parents to talk about pension reform!”
“Raises for us all!”
- ya gottta be kiddin' me - Monday, Nov 19, 12 @ 2:20 pm:
“Squeezy” just leaves us hangin’…more of the same… never resolved…bettin’ on a come. We know the promises that you made to the workers and we know the taxpayers are on the hook for the promises, but what is the promises made to the kids that you reference…thanks in advance?
Oh, there’s no likely about it.
Ideas? Here goes: How about the governor not publicly shift his stance on pension reform legislation every six weeks. How about the GOV himself invest some time and energy with edit boards to make the case with real numbers.
What has been sorely lacking in the mansion is an adult in charge. Someone who conveys the seriousness of the situation. And what do we get instead? An orange snake cartoon. Rather than Squeezy, his name should be Irrelevent.
I believe we’re all laughing at this because the alternative would be to cry.
Rich, are you telling me you didn’t see Anna, the abolitionist Anaconda cartoon at the Presidential Library. Doris Goodwin said the South wouldn’t have been defeated if it wasn’t for the freedom snake marketing campaign.
On a serious note, I don’t think Pat Quinn could snake a drain, let alone pass pension reform.
The hard truth is I knew this would happen all along. I’ve been baiting the governor about his “grassroots campaign” for months because I figured whatever he came up with would be supremely goofy and give me some blog fodder.
Quinn talks bad of scott walker maybe he needs to move north 50 to 100 miles.Iam sure walker would let him move in, and then there would be two nuts in the same house. Quinn would tell walker I like walking in your shoes. Iam against state emeployees two.
I think this program is designed to more broadly communicate, to otherwise disinterested persons, the basic problem, in a colorful manner. It is not aimed at the readers of the Capitol Fax blog, most of whom understand the issue and already have their own policy preferences.
So you may laugh and scoff at the Governor if you like. He cannot legislate, he did not create, and he cannot solve this problem–the solution will be prescribed by your legislature and the courts.
If you want to make the Governor wear the jacket for the legislature’s acts and omissions over the last 20 years–you’ve got the wrong Governor. What are well-respected statesmen Jim Thompson and Jim Edgar doing these days to educate the electorate about the budgets they approved that created this problem?
- Robert the Bruce - Monday, Nov 19, 12 @ 4:25 pm:
This is too funny.
Agree that a cartoon snake is the wrong way to go, but leave that aside for a moment, let’s look at the graphic itself for a moment, and imagine that the word comes down from on high “The Governor wants a graphic of a snake illustrating the pension problem.” Even with that, there are a few problems with the illustration:
1) The snake itself, along with its name, looks somewhat cuddly, not menacing.
2) The snake is squeezing the capitol building, which some people might like to see! Why not squeeze, say, a hospital (health care cuts), a school, or a family of taxpayers
3) The sky is bright blue with some clouds. It should be menacing rainstorm/dark clouds to keep up the image of this being a problem.
Or maybe this whole thing is Quinn’s master strategy of “Can’t you see, pension reform won’t come from me, it’ll come from the legislature, so stop asking me about it!”
The problem is (as much as I enjoy mocking Squeezy) is not Squeezy..
Big Problem One…..
The very basic problem is that they don’t have a suggested course of action for people to take/promote.
Any internet era grassroots thing has an issue and an immediate course of action such as call your congressman, give $5, send a packet of soy sauce to the CEO, something.
They don’t have anything as a course of action besides ’stay tuned’.
Big Problem Two:
Anyone could have looked at the site and said, people are going to focus on the snake. What is the snake doing to move the issue and action forward? The answer is basically nothing, it is a little side character and it is getting the focus.
FAILURE, huge massive FAILURE…
Again, at the very base of it. It comes down to grassroots requiring and issue and a call to some sort of action. There is no call to action here, that is the big problem. Not some snake…
==If you want to make the Governor wear the jacket for the legislature’s acts and omissions over the last 20 years–you’ve got the wrong Governor==
As I recall, this governor wanted the job really really bad when he ran for election a couple short years ago. So he’s the governor in office and that’s why he’s the one who gets to “wear the jacket” and is supposed to leading and helping to solve the problems facing our state now.
Just when I thought the Governor had set an unbeatable standard for comically extreme ineptitude–he beats it. I can’t wait to see what comes next. Best thing to do with this Governor is ignore him. I will be curious to see how his fundraising goes—can’t imagine who will contribute to him this cycle.
- Maxine on Politics - Monday, Nov 19, 12 @ 5:34 pm:
OMG how bad can they make our state look. This comes from the Gov office? Now I know why we have the management and Directors we have now. It is a sad joke that could have been made a difference. Posts are getting deleted and they are not all obnoxious ones! Oy! …as Rich would say.
Do I see some economic opportunity here? AA’s suggestion for a “Squeeezy” bobblehead. Perhaps a couple of t-shirts. One for public employees and retirees that says something like, “Squeeezy the Pension Python, fed by Springfield Politicians,” or “Squeeezy the Pension Python, Pat’s Pitiful Plan for the Problem.”
Which of our many talented and award winning Chicago or Springfield investigative reporters will be the one to bravely answer the call? Who will sniff out and pen the real story and insider drama of how the squeezy campaign came to be? Who will name names? Who will be able to entice leakers with loose lips and wring out the truth from behind closed doors? Yes. I am throwing down the gauntlet, journos.
Perhaps given what some people see as parallels with the Badger State and the hallucanitory nature of some of the top man’s ideas, this famous viral video will serve as the “kid friendly” version of the video Rich posted above:
Quinn, the Cartoon Governor. Grass roots politicking and social media are not the same thing. Social media is grass roots when you start a successful change.org petition to eliminate the $5 monthly Bank of America ATM fee. Social media is not grass roots when the State of Illinois makes an a** of itself. I’m talkin’ to you, Mr. Quinn. I will be contacting my state reps.
Rudy-You couldn’t possibly miss the point of all this by any wider margin. Everyone knows there’s a problem. Everyone knows something needs to be done. But all we get from the Quinn camp is an idiotic cartoon that makes him, and the state, look completely buffoonish.
If you call having your Administration look like the biggest Dopes for having a cartoon python be the face of your grassroots uprising for pension reform, at the cost of your professionalism and your credibility, then Pat “Squeezy” Quinn wins.
Chubs, no he’s not. No one’s outside the media is going to pay any attention to this. If an orange cartoon python is what it takes to succeed in Illinois, then I will pack my bags and leave.
Meanwhile, couldn’t the gov have thrown some cash Samuel Jackson’s way? He’d be a much better spokesman on this.
Oh, I am going to pay very close attention to “Squeezy”, that you can bet on.
Honestly, in the last six months, if I would have said/done the things some of these guys have done, Rich would have banned me for “Bad Taste”.
Rich may ban me for my own bad taste, but look how low the bar is now? I can’t make this stuff up, honest. My sensor inside my empty head won’t even allow this to come out.
But, here we are…
- Arthur Andersen - Monday, Nov 19, 12 @ 10:23 pm:
I have to agree with Michelle and Willy. The only forced conversation I am detecting is either a) Rod-level snarky posts here on the Blog or 2) very awkward attempts by teevee newsreaders to say something neutral/objective about this piece of tripe. My local newsies, who are pretty good, called the campaign “Thanks in advance.”
- Arthur Andersen - Monday, Nov 19, 12 @ 10:29 pm: