The Rockford Chamber of Commerce got a glimpse of the state’s partisan divide this week.
The rhetorical fireworks erupted when Rep. Dave Winters, R-Shirland, showed up at a meeting the class had with Illinois Transportation Secretary Tim Martin to discuss Rockford-area projects. When Martin completed a pitch for the governorâ€™s capital plan, he invited Winters to add his own comments.
Winters, who said the group invited him to the meeting, obliged and proceeded to counter â€” point by point â€” the Democratic governorâ€™s agenda. Whereas Martin said legislators should embrace the governorâ€™s plan, Winters said the governor failed to seek input from Republicans.
Martin and Winters soon were shouting over each other. Martin insisted Blagojevich went out of his way to support road projects in Republican districts. Winters implied the governor canâ€™t be trusted; he noted lawmakers made Blagojevich detail his commitments in unprecedented memos.
Mark Kolaz, a top aide to the governor who accompanied Martin, tried to break it up.
â€œWe came here out of courtesy to your group,â€ Kolaz said. â€œWe did not come here to have the governor bashed by the representative.â€
I don’t care who he is, an appointed department director should not be shouting at a state legislator in front of his own constituents. Not cricket. Martin has been sharply criticized for his arrogant attitude (mostly by African-American legislators), and that may have been on display this week.