I had a story about this in Capitol Fax this morning. Kristen McQueary was on the same panel with myself and Sen. Meeks and she filed this story.
Could the Illinois tollway keep state Sen. James Meeks out of the governor’s race?
Meeks, who is considering an independent bid for governor, said Tuesday he and Blagojevich have met twice to discuss a compromise that could keep Meeks from challenging Blagojevich — and GOP nominee Judy Baar Topinka — in November.
Meeks said the governor raised the possibility of selling state property as one solution to funding schools more equitably and to serving poor areas of the state — two of Meeks’ stipulations. Blagojevich said earlier this week he was intrigued by the idea of leasing the Illinois tollway to raise money for the state; Meeks would not say whether the tollway idea played into their conversation.
So far, Meeks is moving forward with plans to get on the ballot.
“I asked the governor for two things: a comprehensive plan on education and how underserved communities are going to be served,” Meeks said during a breakfast meeting at the Union League Club in Chicago. “As of this date, I haven’t seen a plan.”
Do you think this will work?
UPDATE: He’s looking more like a candidate every day. From an AFSCME press release:
Prospective gubernatorial candidate and state Senator James Meeks will visit an Illinois Department of Human Services field office on Chicago’s South Side tomorrow (Thursday, April 27). Meeks will meet with caseworkers and other frontline employees whose ability to provide essential services and benefits has been reduced by sharp cuts to the agency’s budget and staff.
Following the private meeting with DHS workers, Sen. Meeks and AFSCME director Henry Bayer will hold a news conference at 11:00 a.m. outside the office at 8001 S. Cottage Grove Ave.
DHS caseworkers and other frontline state employees are represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 31. The union recently issued a report, Without A Net: Barriers to Illinois Public Benefits and Supports, that found DHS staff shortages have caused long delays, huge backlogs and high error rates in processing applications for Food Stamps, Medicaid, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and other basic public benefits.
UPDATE: The above event has been postponed. Hmmm.
UPDATE: I’m told it will be rescheduled for next week. More info here (pdf file)