* On May 29th, the Chicago Tribune editorial board implored, even begged House Speaker Michael Madigan to use all of his vast powers to pass a pension reform bill by the end of the spring session…
Working your bill in the Senate is what a leader committed to pension reform — even you, the House leader — should do. It wouldn’t be the first time you’ve broken protocol to get the results you wanted. You do it all the time:
•You stopped your wristwatch on the final day of session in 1988, right before the clock struck midnight, to get a new stadium approved for the White Sox. For that deal, then-Gov. Jim Thompson was on the floor of both chambers muscling votes too.
•You lobbied hard for a controversial 1999 gambling expansion bill that would have moved a riverboat license to Rosemont. Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley lobbied for it. Senate President Pate Philip handed out cigars when the bill passed both chambers.
•In 2007 you called a rare committee of the whole meeting in your chamber to address Rod Blagojevich’s gross receipts tax. The hearing lasted eight hours.
•And two years ago you stepped onto the Senate floor to help pass a 67 percent hike in the personal income tax rate. After you worked the room, it passed.
Remember, Mike, you’re also chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois. You and your majority-party-in-both-chambers can’t leave Springfield, yet again, without passing major pension reform. Which means you can’t allow ego and sandbox foolishness to derail progress. Not when your bill has come this far. Not when 62 House members, some of whom you finessed, already put “yes” votes on the board.
Work your bill to completion. Persuade Cullerton to call it for a vote. Get it on Gov. Pat Quinn’s desk. When it’s all over, we’ll buy you all ice cream cones to help smooth things over. We’re guessing you’re a sherbet kind of guy.
Deal? Hope so.
Chicago Tribune editorial board
* On November 6th, the Tribune editorial board praised Madigan for working his magic on the gay marriage bill…
Many people deserve credit for building support in the House and Senate, including the leaders, Senate President John Cullerton and House Speaker Michael Madigan.
* But yesterday, the Tribune reverted to form and blasted Madigan for being too powerful and argued for term limits…
Madigan has been speaker for all but two of the last 31 years. Yet you didn’t elect him. The other lawmakers did.
They know he’s guilty of overreaching, and they know how to stop it. They could pass a law, or even a House rule, that limits how long any member can serve as speaker. Or they could, you know, elect someone else. But they don’t and they won’t.
Why? Because Madigan owns them. He draws their districts, too. He directs the patronage army that gets them elected. He bankrolls their campaigns, and here, too, he has granted himself an advantage: When the General Assembly passed the state’s first-ever campaign finance limits, Madigan made sure legislative leaders were exempt from those caps.
The blue ribbon ethics commission that championed those caps also recommended term limits for leaders. A bill was drafted and forgotten.