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Over the line

Wednesday, Mar 29, 2006

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 governor’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 — point by point — the Democratic governor’s agenda. Whereas Martin said legislators should embrace the governor’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 can’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.

“We came here out of courtesy to your group,” Kolaz said. “We did not come here to have the governor bashed by the representative.”

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.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Lee - Wednesday, Mar 29, 06 @ 8:18 am:

    Martin takes his marching orders from Blagojevich and Rep. Jay Hoffman, house transportation committee chair. Both have proved to be ineffective in controlling Martin.

  2. - bassman - Wednesday, Mar 29, 06 @ 8:26 am:

    Arrogance aside, Secretary Martin is a part of the Governor’s cabinet. He has no choice but to go forward with the Governor’s agenda, and accept those who, with influence, have been appointed to jobs without any background or experience. So when harsh words are said by anyone, regardless if they are legislators, it is typical that defensiveness is the response. Another typical response is to not recall a person, place or thing. First, I fault the legislature who allowed this administration the authority to sweep funds for general revenue purposes, including the road fund. Then I fault this administration for making into an art, and obfiscating the facts through the Goeblesque public spokes-people who continue the slight of hand. Now, without a “jobs bill” to cover their shake-down of peter to pay paul, the fiscal house of cards is going to start showing up. First is the 12-13 million in public safety funds going back to the feds, next is tens of millions in enhancement and other road funds going back because Illinois does not have the matching funds to cover the programs…they’re already swept. Frustration for supporting deviance is leaking out of this secretary, a person can only take so much.

  3. - 'The Gay Governor' - Wednesday, Mar 29, 06 @ 8:37 am:

    It sounds like it would have behooved both men to cool their heels.
    Still, I’m not sure Winters picked the right time to confront a Blago official over the governor’s agenda. If this meeting was designed for the group to hear from Martin, Winters could have just said, “Alright, come back to my office and I’ll share my perspective. Maybe I can even introduce you to Tom Cross.”
    But to launch an attack on the governor, via Martin, in this forum seems pretty sloppy.

  4. - Lloyd Dobbler - Wednesday, Mar 29, 06 @ 8:40 am:

    WHAT!? Someone had the NERVE to question Gov. Rod’s debt, I mean capital plan in front of His Royal Pompous Puppet Martin!?
    My favorite line from the source article is the lady who said -quote-At one point we felt like we were not in the room any more. It was just between them.-end quote-
    Success! The class learned the hard fact that in Springfield, the public doesn’t matter and it IS all about them (politicos and hacks).
    (wiping away a tear as true Democracy comes home to the heartland)

  5. - DOWNSTATE - Wednesday, Mar 29, 06 @ 8:51 am:

    This administration from the Gov. donw has one view their own and they are not interested in what other people think or suggest.This attitude of we are in power after 25 years so we will do what we want needs to be changed in November.

  6. - Bluefish - Wednesday, Mar 29, 06 @ 9:10 am:

    Doesn’t Tim Martin have enough internal problems at IDOT that he should be focusing on to keep him away from campaigning for Blago?

  7. - Business As Usual - Wednesday, Mar 29, 06 @ 9:29 am:

    and what about Kolatz? What does he know about transportation? Shouldn’t he have been back in Springfield running the mail service, er, the Governor’s office?

  8. - Truthful James - Wednesday, Mar 29, 06 @ 9:35 am:

    The public be damned (I read that somewhere). The big boodle outside the budget’s revenue forecasts came from the omission of reasonably expected increases in sales and income taxes (a total of 11% in other states.)

    Of course, Mike Madigan was aware — probably also Emil Jones, And Blago (the master pork farmer)was overjoyed with the wads of money that he could use as discretionary funds to pay for programs in his budget which were unfunded.

    And so, the people were damned.

  9. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Mar 29, 06 @ 12:27 pm:

    It was very disturbing to learn that we lost $12M of public road safety funds when so many concrete overpass support beams around the state don’t have those yellow barrels full of sand in front of them to save the lives of drivers. How much would that cost to fix?

    Meanwhile, until we get a specific list of prioritized projects that will be funded and the source of funds, it’s just a lot of politics, not good government, that anyone would be wise to view with skepticism.

  10. - Nobody Nobody Sent - Wednesday, Mar 29, 06 @ 12:41 pm:

    Frankly, I am surprised it took this long for Martin to make a fool of himself publicly. This is exactly what he did at a CPS (Chicago Public Schools) meeting I was at a few years back. He is a complete and utter jerk with the attitude of, “How dare you disagree with me?”

    This points out the drawbacks of having former City of Chicago (and all its sister agencies) administrators going to state government with no state experience. They think the Legislature is like the Chicago City Council. Martin could get away with that in Chicago with Aldermen and women because the vast majority kow-tow to whatever the Mayor wants. Obviously, you cannot do that with House or Senate members, ESPECIALLY in the guy’s district.

    So to all the overpaid advisors working for the gov, here is some advice: when in a situation like that, simply thank the legislator for his views and say you look forward to working with him on this issue.

    Would that have been so hard?

  11. - heet101 - Wednesday, Mar 29, 06 @ 1:55 pm:

    I’m a low level staffer that attended an IDOT meeting w/ King Tim in place of a Rep. in the southern part of this state. He might as well have been sitting on a throne wearing a crown full of jewels in that conference room. Arrogance and heavy handedness guide his ship.

  12. - Johnny USA - Wednesday, Mar 29, 06 @ 5:20 pm:

    Good idea. Don’t let the guv spend the money in an election year.

    If the Repubs give him the money now, his cronies get it.

    If they wait, they may de-throne him come November. Then their cronies will get the money.

    Makes sense to me.

  13. - Hank - Wednesday, Mar 29, 06 @ 7:08 pm:

    Under other govs, you could count on an agency director going out and giving educated, informed policy speeches to constituents and user groups. The directors that Blago hires just don’t have experience nor the intelligence to do so. We are becoming a joke to other states.

  14. - Anon - Wednesday, Mar 29, 06 @ 8:38 pm:

    Have you ever heard Martin speak?1 It’s Governor Blago this and Governor Blago that! He and Kolaz are nothing but cheerleaders for the governor! Here’s an update, formally fired IDOT worker from many years ago and failed swinger’s club owner Rich Egizii just got hired at IDOT!

  15. - Gregor Samsa - Wednesday, Mar 29, 06 @ 9:11 pm:


    I remember once when the secretary of transportation actually posessed a *gulp* ENGINEERING degree, and could actually converse knowledgeably with his staff. But that was an aberration: typically IDOT and CMS directorships were and are pure give-away prizes to the guv’s friends and supporters, heck, if a guy like Greg Baise could be the sec d’ trans, why not some sycophant from the CPS? I really hate how these guys fiddle with politics while Rome burns, or more accuratly, crumbles: our infrastructure is not being renewed and maintained, and stuff is breaking down all over the place. It’s not like we *needed* the fed’s 12 million… they must be laughing their butts off in Washington at this ineptitude.

    But that’s okay, because when illinois’ roads and bridges crumble, the contractors that are big donators will have something to do then, I guess.

  16. - Ethel - Wednesday, Mar 29, 06 @ 10:10 pm:

    It is not only roads and bridges that are cumbling. Every state agency (especially IDOC, DHS and DNR) has buildings with leaking roofs, boilers that aren’t working or structural issues. However, there is ongoing work at the capitol, including renovation of the House and Senate chambers which has all new woodwork, desks, wool carpet woven in England and a new stained glass light in the ceiling of the House. All those millions could be used for repairs at buildings that really need the work.

  17. - Criminal Enterprise Called Illinois - Thursday, Mar 30, 06 @ 3:09 am:

    Hank…”becoming a joke”? Illinois has BEEN a joke since the 1980’s when Big Jim Thompson expanded and politicized state government. This state has been broken for decades and it is only getting worse. Witness our population loss/job creation failure/state agency ineptitude. It is a sham that the Capitol will get a facelift when so many state facilities need work and equipment. We could keep Patrick Fitzgerald busy for a lifetime in this state.

  18. - NIEVA - Thursday, Mar 30, 06 @ 6:25 pm:

    As a IDOT employee I must take exception to the way you all are talking about our leader. Tim is a bright,witty,smooth talking S.O.B. In all the mettings we have been forced to attend in his honor he made us all feel like the lesser humanoids that we are. If Tim says it is so ,it s so!! Leave him alone and hopefully he will take the job running the tollroad.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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