* There’s always at least one big blowup during overtime session, and yesterday probably qualifies as the first. I told you about it on these two posts yesterday afternoon, but here are a couple of mainstream media reports, starting with the Tribune…
The electricity meeting dominated the statehouse activity on Thursday and kept Jones and Madigan away from a meeting Gov. Rod Blagojevich had called with Cook County Assessor Jim Houlihan over how best to renew a property tax relief plan. Jones and Madigan, both Chicago Democrats, have passed different versions of a plan.
The governor halted the meeting after the two legislative leaders sent deputies instead, leading to the latest round of personal rancor that has marked interactions between the governor and his fellow Democrats since they pushed the legislative session into overtime.
Madigan sent Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago) to the meeting. Madigan spokesman Steve Brown said “it appears to be a sexist thing” that the governor would not recognize Currie as Madigan’s proxy.
Deputy Gov. Sheila Nix vigorously disputed Brown’s assertion, saying “there was nothing sexist about” the governor’s decision. She called Brown’s remarks a “smoke screen” for Madigan’s absence.
Currie called Blagojevich’s actions “very bizarre behavior.”
The governor “was like a child,” said Rep. Kevin Joyce (D-Chicago), who was at the meeting and said Blagojevich went on a “tirade” about not having all four legislative leaders present.
Another Democrat there went so far as to contact the Legislature’s research arm to learn about the rules of impeaching a governor, though later maintained there is no plan to initiate impeachment proceedings against Blagojevich. […]
“In response to the speaker’s spokesman’s comments, we think they are inappropriate and not based in fact,” Blagojevich spokeswoman Rebecca Rausch said.
The governor’s Senate floor leader, Sen. Carol Ronen (D-Chicago), said Brown’s statement about the governor went over the top considering Madigan is chairman of the state Democratic Party.
“As speaker of the House and as chairman of the party, [Madigan] is responsible for what his spokesperson is saying,” she said. “Mr. Madigan should denounce what [Brown] said. He should say he doesn’t agree with him. The speaker is not acting in good faith if he’s letting his spokesperson throw gasoline on everything.”
That statement was fully authorized, by the way.
* And Rep. John Fritchey, who was at the meeting, had several choice words for the guv in his own blog post…
We were seated around the Governor’s office, with Watson and Cross seated at the conference table, and three remaining seats for the President, Speaker and Governor. The Governor came in about 20 minutes late, briefly shook hands with a number of us, took his seat, and then it started.
Not the meeting, the farce.
He said that he was prepared to start as soon as Madigan and Jones got there. Majority Leader Currie stated that he may be late or not coming at all due to another commitment, but that she was authorized to act in his stead. The Governor then went on a weird diatribe that this was a leaders’ meeting and that he would not take part until all of the leaders were there.
I very politely suggested to the Governor that Rep. Currie had been the point person in the House on the discussions, that we had a large number of legislators who had been involved on the issue in the room, the Assessor was present and as such, I ‘didn’t see the harm in beginning the conversation prior to the arrival of Jones and/or Madigan.’
The Governor’s response was that he ‘didn’t see the harm in waiting’. He stood up and told the assembled group that he was going to go to his other office to do work and that we could wait around or that they would call us when the meeting was going to start.
He turned to leave the room less than five minutes after he had walked in.
If there was a soundtrack for that moment, it would have been that of 20 legislators being simultaneously slapped in the face.
What some commenters here misunderstood yesterday was that Wednesday’s leaders meeting was held without Senate President Emil Jones, so the governor’s refusal to meet yesterday was inexcusable. There’s a method behind the guv’s madness (at least, they think so), but that’s for subscribers on Monday (there was no Capitol Fax this morning because, apparently, getting home by 8:30 makes me ill).