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Has a “new” counter-point to the Tribune emerged?

Thursday, Feb 11, 2016

* Now that the Sun-Times has finally shed itself of its meddling pro-Rauner owner, might we see more editorials like this?

You don’t smash the engine to make a car go faster, yet that is what Gov. Bruce Rauner is doing to Chicago, the engine of Illinois.

For more than a year, Gov. Rauner has been inflicting permanent damage on one of America’s great cities — and so too, then, on the entire State of Illinois — by holding the city hostage to a rigid “turnaround” agenda that is going nowhere. Rauner charged into office promising dramatic pro-business, anti-union reforms, but he’s fast shaping up as one of the least successful and most politically inept governors in the state’s history.

It is easy to say “a pox on both your houses,” as we have in the past, laying blame equally on the governor and the Democratic leaders of the state Legislature, especially House Speaker Michael J. Madigan. And certainly, as President Obama said in his speech to the Illinois General Assembly on Wednesday, there is a need across the political spectrum for “civility and compromise.”

But increasingly, with respect to Gov. Rauner, that is a false equivalency.

They do get some things wrong. Rauner long ago abandoned his robust and harmful (to his own aims) public push for so-called “right to work” laws, for example.

* Most importantly, though, Chicago has done far more harm to itself with ridiculous tax and spend policies (low property taxes on residents and too much spending as well as too much delay on dealing with pensions) over the past couple of decades (with mayors and aldermanic majorities endorsed by the Sun-Times) than Rauner could ever possibly do in a year.

I get their anger. I share it. But the city’s leaders started this raging fire and then deliberately ignored it until they had pushed Chicago to the cusp of insolvency. Emanuel didn’t have the courage to raise taxes in his first term, and, of course, there was Daley’s (endorsed) abject cowardice. Now, the tax hikes have to be much larger and the cuts much deeper if Chicago hopes to ever survive, which is why Rauner and others are pushing so hard for the bankruptcy option.

* Illinois, on the other hand, did address its revenue problem in 2011, much to the chagrin of many. But then Rauner demanded that the Democrats not renew that tax hike and the Dems complied. Big mistake in hindsight. However, because he made that request, Rauner now owns the current state problems much more than he owns Chicago’s.

And while many don’t or refuse to believe it, state spending was cut before Rauner took over (not enough, but it was). Now it can’t be cut with any sort of reasonableness and logic and humaneness because we don’t have a budget and the judiciary is ordering spending, while some entities (like rape crisis centers and universities) aren’t getting any state money at all.

* So, I don’t have many quibbles with this

Rauner’s performance as governor lies at the heart of the problem now. His largely inflexible demands are unrealistic and his coercive tactics ineffectual. His harsh rhetoric has made constructive compromise — the heart and soul of politics if not the private equity business — all the more difficult.

The irony here is that Rauner is championing some good stuff for which he might possibly, over time, cobble together bipartisan support. We’re with him on the need to reform the way legislative maps are drawn to make elections more competitive. We see merit in term limits for legislators. There’s a good argument that Illinois could go further in reforming its worker’s comp laws.

But Rauner came to Springfield and demanded it all, right away. Without even a nod to political realities, he front-loaded his entire agenda into the first year of his four-year term. And we’re troubled by his seeming obsession with curtailing the power of unions; is it so complete that he cannot see that he will never get a right-to-work law through the General Assembly?

Again, Rauner, to his credit, did dump the so-called “right to work” issue last year. But his obsession with unions is downright bizarre.

* The governor also seems to enjoy kicking people and entities when they’re down, and he’s been far too eager to do that to Chicago. So the editorial is spot on in that regard.

And he’s mostly contained the state meltdown to Chicago, where problems with schools, crime and the state’s only majority African-American public university are rapidly coming to a head. He should be trying to help, no doubt, but he would say he has offered help. Trouble is, that was all wrapped up in his anti-union obsession. He really needs to find other ways to make this state more competitive.

But you can’t deliberately hit yourself in the head with a hammer and then sue the manufacturer. Well, you can (this is Illinois, after all /snark), but you’d look pretty silly doing it.

* Either way, and despite my strong disagreements, having a “new” Chicago counterpoint to the Tribune is most definitely needed. That paper has been dominating this debate for far too long.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


41 Comments
  1. - Anon221 - Thursday, Feb 11, 16 @ 12:49 pm:

    Now, if the ILGOP will “buy in” to this counterpoint and not Rauner’s “investment scheme”, maybe, just maybe, we’ll be able to get moving again.


  2. - How Ironic - Thursday, Feb 11, 16 @ 12:52 pm:

    Afternoon Rich,

    Bruce Rauner is working on the final numbers to purchase all future editorials from the Sun Times. He certainly does not appreciate dissenting viewpoints.

    Best,
    ck!


  3. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Feb 11, 16 @ 12:55 pm:

    I fear this is a temporary moment of clarity and reason, but boy is this dose of reality welcome.

    The Bright One is also the right one.


  4. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Feb 11, 16 @ 12:55 pm:

    Loved it. It hit all the sweet spots for me.

    Egypt lost Pharoah, The Chicago Sun-Times lost Ferro…

    Will we be free of one thought and given a counter point?

    I hope this a beginning, not a rejoicing of “Ferro” leaving Egypt


  5. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Feb 11, 16 @ 12:57 pm:

    - 47th Ward -

    When I read it and was soaking it’s words in, my fear was this was a one hit, one time thing.

    I am hoping it’s not

    Totally with you on this.


  6. - Red Ranger - Thursday, Feb 11, 16 @ 12:57 pm:

    “But his obsession with unions is downright bizarre”

    This is spot on. It clouds his entire thinking. Until he can move off his current track of thinking, his Governorship is just a rich guy’s hobby and not a serious attempt at leading this state.


  7. - Anonymous - Thursday, Feb 11, 16 @ 12:58 pm:

    The Democrats sold the state income tax increase as a temporary measure and the public was told that the additional revenue was going to be used to pay down bills. Did that ever really happen or was the added cash used to fuel more spending?


  8. - Forgottonian - Thursday, Feb 11, 16 @ 1:01 pm:

    On a related note, we have not received any more of those calls from SSI. Anyone else notice that?


  9. - Jack Stephens - Thursday, Feb 11, 16 @ 1:01 pm:

    Would be great if you and everyone quit calling Union Busting “right to work”.

    Just like Donald is going to build a wall and Mexico is going to pay for it.


  10. - Norseman - Thursday, Feb 11, 16 @ 1:06 pm:

    Rich, points taken but counterpoint greatly welcomed. More like these and we may see some movement.


  11. - RNUG - Thursday, Feb 11, 16 @ 1:08 pm:

    ==The Democrats sold the state income tax increase as a temporary measure and the public was told that the additional revenue was going to be used to pay down bills. Did that ever really happen or was the added cash used to fuel more spending? ==

    Backlog before the tax increase was about $9B, pension contributions were not being fully made. During the time the tax was in effect, full pension payments were made and backlog went down to about $4.5B at time the tax expired. Discretionary spending was also cut about 10% a year for the last 3 years of Quinn’s term. So yes, the temp tax increase was used to improve the State’s financial status; maybe not as much as some would have liked but it was improved.


  12. - Mama - Thursday, Feb 11, 16 @ 1:19 pm:

    Can the ILGOP cross the aisle and work with the Dems to put IL back together again? Is there any hope?


  13. - Jack Stephens - Thursday, Feb 11, 16 @ 1:19 pm:

    To the bigger point.

    “conservatives” (not Republicans, there IS a difference) constantly whine about the “liberal media”. What this really means is they cannot argue their point cogently so they have to divide the country.

    The Chicago Tribune has endorsed every Republican President since its founding with 1 notable exception. And had that candidate picked someone qualified to run with him, they would have picked him too. The Tribune is a Republican (or “conservative”) newspaper.

    In my lifetime, and its only a recent invention, the Sun-Times always endorsed the Democratic candidates.

    Of course the printed edition and I think probably editorials are going away. And there are citizens who cannot comprehend that the tv show called “the factor” is NOT news. Despite it being on a mis-named news channel. At least with newspapers, and for the most part, you can differentiate between news and opinion.


  14. - GA Watcher - Thursday, Feb 11, 16 @ 1:26 pm:

    Jack Stephens: The S-T endorsed Bruce Rauner for Governor in 2014.


  15. - Juvenal - Thursday, Feb 11, 16 @ 1:28 pm:

    Rich -

    I have to disagree with you.

    Crain’s long ago picked up where the Chicago Tribune stumbled, not just in its editorials but also in its reporting. Reasoned, factual, objective. In short: Journalism.

    That said, it is no coinkidink that Ferro removed himself from editorial decisions last week and this week the Sun-Times editorial board cleared its throat and is sounding more like its old self.


  16. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Feb 11, 16 @ 1:32 pm:

    - GA Watcher -

    Ferro endorsed Rauner… The Chicago Sun-Times was the prop used to do so.


  17. - Jack Stephens - Thursday, Feb 11, 16 @ 1:32 pm:

    @GA:

    Agreed. And to the best of my memory they stopped doing endorsements, with the exception of that one.


  18. - forwhatitsworth - Thursday, Feb 11, 16 @ 1:39 pm:

    === The Democrats sold the state income tax increase as a temporary measure and the public was told that the additional revenue was going to be used to pay down bills. Did that ever really happen or was the added cash used to fuel more spending? ===

    I believe significant progress was made, but now seems to be wasted because of the budget impasse.


  19. - GA Watcher - Thursday, Feb 11, 16 @ 1:42 pm:

    Jack:
    The Sun-Times actually stopped doing endorsements in 2011. They started up again in 2014 probably for the reason OW gave.


  20. - Louis G. Atsaves - Thursday, Feb 11, 16 @ 1:44 pm:

    ===Can the ILGOP cross the aisle and work with the Dems to put IL back together again? Is there any hope?===

    After being treated like third and fourth class citizens by the Democrats prior to Rauner’s election? The standoff isn’t just due to one person, with all due respect to the rapidly fading and vanishing Sun-Times.


  21. - Politix - Thursday, Feb 11, 16 @ 1:52 pm:

    I was so thankful to see this today. It hit all the right points and with no whiny tone. Trib, take note.


  22. - Cubs in '16 - Thursday, Feb 11, 16 @ 1:53 pm:

    I find the Sun-Times editorial much more balanced than the Trib’s. The S-T gave props to Rauner where they felt it was due. The Trib editorials I’ve read absolutely refuse to criticize anything about the gov. and use major spin to explain away criticisms of him and his agenda.


  23. - Earnest - Thursday, Feb 11, 16 @ 1:54 pm:

    >After being treated like third and fourth class citizens by the Democrats prior to Rauner’s election? The standoff isn’t just due to one person, with all due respect to the rapidly fading and vanishing Sun-Times.

    I honestly believe the House Republicans have the power now. They can do good things and rub it in Madigan’s face at the same time. No snark, not even hyperbole. If anything’s going to happen other than Rauner’s planned disaster, it will be they who do it. They should get map reform as part of it and have a brilliant set of accomplishments to build on in order to re-take the legislature.


  24. - Juice - Thursday, Feb 11, 16 @ 1:56 pm:

    Louis, the GOP was brought to the table on capital, pensions, education reform, Medicaid reform, workers comp reform, and budgets. They just chose to be against most of the budgets (except that first one under Quinn which borrowed massively and kicked the can to him) because saying you’re against revenue is a lot easier than actually having to govern.

    I understand playing the victim, that just doesn’t mean it’s necessarily true.


  25. - How Ironic - Thursday, Feb 11, 16 @ 1:57 pm:

    @ - Louis G. Atsaves - Thursday, Feb 11, 16 @ 1:44 pm: “After being treated like third and fourth class citizens by the Democrats prior to Rauner’s election?”

    As if the ILGOP’s repeated and honest overtures and demonstrated willingness to compromise were rebuffed.

    Perhaps you forgot the only word the ILGOP knew, and seems to continue to be able to verbalize was ‘NO’.


  26. - Politix - Thursday, Feb 11, 16 @ 2:11 pm:

    Earnest, that may have been the case 6 months ago, but not anymore. The trust is so broken at this point it would take a whole lot for the Dems to cooperate on anything that would lead to a repub win.


  27. - Yobagoya - Thursday, Feb 11, 16 @ 2:25 pm:

    Rauner drops right to work stuff, says he’ll raise taxes and the Democrats are willing to compromise on what, exactly?


  28. - Anon - Thursday, Feb 11, 16 @ 2:25 pm:

    Blah, blah, blah. Somebody wake me up when Madigan offers one “concession” of any sort to the negotiating process. ONE. Just. One. Until then, the “Rauner is a horrible governor because he refuses to budge” blather is a waste of air.


  29. - wordslinger - Thursday, Feb 11, 16 @ 2:26 pm:

    –But his obsession with unions is downright bizarre.–

    I thought so, too. I thought the hostage strategy to get it was obviously impossible and bizarre, too.

    After so much time and damage, it’s clear the fiscal train wreck was the objective in-an-of itself. Kick down the barn and start over.

    There’s a clear, logical path to that conclusion, as twisted as it is. But it makes sense of the actions and results to date.


  30. - CashB. - Thursday, Feb 11, 16 @ 2:39 pm:

    The STimes editorial was absolutely spot-on and actually balanced. So refreshing to see after all these months of the paper seeming muted on Rauner and the carnage he has created. The critiquing of his ineptitude in terms of his way of “negotiating” and bad relations with other, major “players” has needed to be pointed out for a long time. And lord knows the Tribune certainly was/ is not going to do it!


  31. - Emily Booth - Thursday, Feb 11, 16 @ 2:45 pm:

    Rauner’s obsession with unions is not bizarre. He was funded by a Texas couple, ironically Democrats, who felt unions have too much power.

    I grew up in a household that read both the Trib and the Sun-Times. I may start a Sun-Times subscription because of this editorial.


  32. - Arsenal - Thursday, Feb 11, 16 @ 2:49 pm:

    “Somebody wake me up when Madigan offers one “concession” of any sort to the negotiating process.”

    Stay woke, son, ’cause Madigan agreed to let the tax hikes expire when Rauner asked him to.

    And that’s with bracketing the fact that it’s hard to offer a concession to “We can’t even begin to negotiate the budget until you agree to slit your own throat.”


  33. - Arsenal - Thursday, Feb 11, 16 @ 2:50 pm:

    “And you’re personally responsible for everything that’s wrong with Illinois. GEEZ, C’MON, WHY CAN’T YOU THROW ME A BONE HERE?”


  34. - Louis G. Atsaves - Thursday, Feb 11, 16 @ 3:10 pm:

    @juice, please already. Revisionist history isn’t going to change things. Having a “seat at the table” in committees and on the House and Senate floor is pretty meaningless when you are the minority party and the majority is determined to impose its will.

    Who are the real so-called “victims” here? The majority party in both chambers who have been paralyzed by one stubborn Republican? The majority party that won’t pass appropriations for social services that are starving to death? For postage so that the public doesn’t get sandbagged with fines for expired license plates and auto pollution tests? For those who argue that Rauner wants state government to collapse, explain the Democratic “complicity” in this?

    Things changed following the November elections that brought us a new Governor. A power shift occurred. Not dramatic, but enough to knock business as usual off its stride. Time the majority party figured that one out.


  35. - Keyrock - Thursday, Feb 11, 16 @ 3:16 pm:

    Rich,

    Please remind the Sun-Times editorial board that the Governor will be repurchasing the share of the Sun-Times that he sold just as soon as he leaves office. And while he doesn’t read the papers, he will remember certain editorials.

    Just sayin’.

    Thanks!
    -ck


  36. - SAP - Thursday, Feb 11, 16 @ 3:21 pm:

    Here is an excellent article about how to save the Sun-Times: http://www.newcity.com/2016/02/10/save-the-sun-times-how-id-keep-chicago-a-two-newspaper-town/#more-13000 One recommendation was to move left.


  37. - Annonin' - Thursday, Feb 11, 16 @ 4:43 pm:

    “Blah, blah, blah. Somebody wake me up when Madigan offers one “concession” of any sort to the negotiating process.”
    Mr/Ms Snoozer:
    1. Work Reform focused on insurance companies that are not lower rates
    2. DECEO p3 with a little oversight designed to prevent replay of Scott Walker scandal
    3. A zillion votes on property tax freeze
    4. Compromised on FY 15 Budget correction, tax expiration, GA COLA, Fed Funds approp, OSF approp.
    Need more?
    BTW $uper$tars did not “abandon” RTW it sunk like the Titanic on 1st voyage.


  38. - wordslinger - Thursday, Feb 11, 16 @ 4:45 pm:

    –Who are the real so-called “victims” here? The majority party in both chambers who have been paralyzed by one stubborn Republican? The majority party that won’t pass appropriations for social services that are starving to death? For postage so that the public doesn’t get sandbagged with fines for expired license plates and auto pollution tests? For those who argue that Rauner wants state government to collapse, explain the Democratic “complicity” in this?–

    Huh?


  39. - il17 - Thursday, Feb 11, 16 @ 4:53 pm:

    Gov Bruce has not in any manner moved away from his “right to work” agenda. It is just piecemealed out into what he hopes is ‘death by a 1000 cuts’. Every action of Bruce’s will have some nick at the right of citizens to assemble (for a union) for redress of grievances (negotiate). Bruce see’s himself as a patriarch and his personal ideas are the only things his subjects need.


  40. - Demoralized - Thursday, Feb 11, 16 @ 5:08 pm:

    ==Time the majority party figured that one out.==

    And it’s time the Governor figured out he has to deal with a Democratic General Assembly.


  41. - Union Man - Friday, Feb 12, 16 @ 5:57 am:

    Rauner hasn’t walked away from Right to Work. He’s walked away from it for now. Let him get 1 or 2 victories and it will be right back up front again, that I can tell you.


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