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For him when it suits their purposes

Friday, Jan 10, 2014

* 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.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - skeptical spectacle - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 11:59 am:

    ok, so lets back up…..

    I think its safe to say madigan has been one of Illinois most influential government leaders over the past couple decades, right?

    Or perhaps a better way to say it is: Which politician has had more influence over the state of Illinois over the past couple decades than Michael Madigan?

    How has Illinois done as a state over that time period?

    Is a system which allows that sort of power to develop and persist and thrive one which the state of Illinois should continue?

    Or should we look at perhaps changing how we govern ourselves since things ain’t so great now?

  2. - Downstate Weed Chewing Hick - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 12:00 pm:

    We have known each other many years, but this is the first time you’ve come to me for counsel or for help. I can’t remember the last time you invited me to your house for a cup of coffee, even though my wife is godmother to your only child. But let’s be frank here. You never wanted my friendship. And you feared to be in my debt.
    …You found paradise in America. You had a good trade, you made a good living. The police protected you and there were courts of law. So you didn’t need a friend like me. Now you come and say “Don Corleone, give me justice.” But you don’t ask with respect. You don’t offer friendship. You don’t even think to call me “Godfather.”

  3. - Formerly Known As... - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 12:04 pm:

    Many people believe the king has too much power. But even they understand that for as long as he has that power, earning the king’s support is critical to making any major changes in the kingdom.

    Some may see that as a disconnect. Others may see it as practical reality.

    The truth is likely somewhere in between.

  4. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 12:11 pm:

    I wonder if MJM ever got his ice cream cones?

  5. - Chicago Cynic - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 12:43 pm:

    They were fer him before they were agin him. Well technically, they were agin him before they were fer him before they were agin him.

  6. - Anon - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 12:55 pm:

    Did the Tribbies ever give Madigan credit for passing the pension bill they wanted? If not, why not? Do they really think someone who isn´t extremely powerful could deliver the majority of his caucus to take away benefits from their union supporters? Usually we give credit to pols who stand up to powerful interest groups in their own party, the way Sandack and Sullivan did on marriage equality. In Madigan´s case, not so much.

  7. - Siriusly - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 12:56 pm:

    “We live in a world that has two chambers, and those chambers have to be run by men with gavels. Who’s gonna do it? You? You, Lieutenant Hoffstetter? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for legislative independence and you curse the The Speaker. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know, that the death of independence, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives! You don’t want the truth, because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me in that chair. You need me in that chair. We use words like “roll call”, “volunteer”, “loyalty”. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to an editorial board who thrives under the blanket of the very state that I govern, and then questions the manner in which I govern it! I would rather you just said “thank you”, and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a petition, file to run for office yourself, and stand a post. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to!

  8. - Century Club - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 1:07 pm:

    Love it, Siriusly!

    Tribbies are fined $5,000 for flopping.

  9. - Todd - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 1:11 pm:

    they have a multi-personality disorder

  10. - Juvenal - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 1:13 pm:

    In a new twist, Tribune not only wants to have their cake and eat it too, but complain about how bad it tastes and ask for seconds.

    To the merits:

    Let’s not forget MJM was the only one willing and able to stand up to Blagojevich.

    Weakening the leadership of the GA may seem like a fine idea if you are a Quinn backer. but our own state’s history and the history of other states is that another malignant executive is just around the corner.

    Did we learn nothing from the Durkin Poe sideshow? Every change in legislative leadership is a special interest power struggle. Does the Tribune really want the AFL-CIO and ITLA picking a new Speaker every few years?

    On the other side of the coin, Radogno is only 44. I think she has been a much better leader than her two predecessors. do you really want to send her packing soon?

  11. - Rod - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 1:25 pm:

    I have been as mad as hell at Speaker Madigan when he did not allow bills I was supporting out of committee and at other times sang his praise when he pushed buttons and got bills sent to the executive committee to be fast tracked.

    I think the Tribune is in the same situation as are most lobbyists in Springfield. The Speaker love or hate him is a power to be reckoned with. There will be no term limits unless he agrees with the idea and is prepared to retire, if he would not do that for his daughter and certainly isn’t going to do it for Bruce Rauner or the Tribune editorial board.

  12. - Michelle Flaherty - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 1:28 pm:

    Juvenal, is your source for Leader Radogno’s DOB wikipedia by chance?

    You might want to search elsewhere.

  13. - Demoralized - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 1:29 pm:

    ==Yet you didn’t elect him. The other lawmakers did.==

    Yes, but you DID elect your representative that vote for him. The Tribune apparently is confused by how things work. We elect people and then they go make decisions on our behalf. Perhaps they need a Civics 101 course.

  14. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 1:30 pm:

    - Siriusly -,

    Well done.

  15. - No Longer A Lurker - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 3:15 pm:


    Well done indeed. One of my all time favorite Jack clips.

  16. - Joan P. - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 3:19 pm:

    You expect consistency from the Trib? This is the newspaper that said “None of those involved in the Cruz prosecution deserves ever again to enjoy a position of public honor or trust” and then proceeded to endorse Jim Ryan for governor.

  17. - Formerly Known As... - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 3:41 pm:

    === Yes, but you DID elect your representative that vote for him. ===

    Pat Brady tried pointing that out with the “Fire Madigan” campaign.

    He was roundly mocked by many commenters on this site for doing so.

  18. - Chicago taxpayer - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 4:01 pm:

    Glad you posted this, Rich. This has always driven me crazy. The Tribune rips Madigan (appropriately) but then treats him with respect and almost admiration when they want him to deliver something difficult. Hypocrisy at its worst.

  19. - Jake From Elwood - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 4:30 pm:

    Apple flavored sherbet…yum.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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