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Good news, bad news

Tuesday, Jun 26, 2007

This story in the Pantagraph starts out simply enough…

Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s few public comments about the politically sensitive topic of high electric bills have suggested that he would sign off on a plan to cut Ameren and ComEd rates back to their 2006 levels.

But lawmakers are trying to abandon that plan in favor of convincing Ameren and ComEd to help customers under different terms. A Blagojevich aide says the governor could go along under certain conditions.

“He’s open to an alternative to a rate freeze as long as it provides immediate relief to consumers,’’ spokeswoman Rebecca Rausch said.

But then…

Blagojevich’s office hasn’t been represented in ongoing talks among lawmakers, corporate officials and others.

The fact that the governor hasn’t been involved is both pathetic and a positive.

It’s pathetic because the governor has insisted that he supports rate relief for beleagured consumers, yet hasn’t bothered to insert himself into the process.

It’s positive because if the guv had joined the talks, he might have screwed them up. He would’ve been in that room yapping about baseball, or ties or property tax assessment caps or anything else as long as it had nothing to do with the actual topic at hand. From what I can tell, he doesn’t negotiate, he speechifies from carefully crafted talking points.

A couple of weeks ago when House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie said that she was authorized to represent Speaker Madigan in the leaders meeting on assessment caps, the governor had to huddle with his top aides for several minutes before he could come up with a response.

That’s not the kind of guy you want at the table when you’re negotiating with corporate CEOs. So, yeah, it’s a “positive” that Blagojevich hasn’t been in the room, but what does that say about him?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Bill Baar - Tuesday, Jun 26, 07 @ 9:04 am:

    Maybe he can authorize Froehlich to speak for him instead.

  2. - This Guy - Tuesday, Jun 26, 07 @ 9:06 am:

    Perhaps it says it’s time for Governor Robotovich to step (or be moved) aside and real leader be put in charge.

  3. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Jun 26, 07 @ 9:12 am:

    After the Democratic Majority Leader presented herself as representing the Democratic Speaker of the House, our Democratic Governor had to huddle? With top aides? For several minutes? THEN walk out, killing any opportunities to represent himself and his constituents at this meeting?

    The more I hear, the worst it sounds!

    It is a stretch to say that Blagojevich would wreck any talks with utilities. While he has proved repeatedly to be unable to do any gubernatorial work when needed, he might have done a great job and gotten this situation resolved sooner if he did what he does so well - charm and show interest, like he does during campaigns.

    I believe that Blagojevich has a power, but one that doesn’t fit into daily governing. It is the power to raise millions in campaign funds, cut deals with friends, and do TV ads. Yeah, I know, the campaign funds and the deals seem to be often questionable and perhaps unethical, and the TV ads slanderous and libelous, but you gotta give the guy credit. He duped Illinois Democrats into nominating him twice and duped enough voters to sit behind the governor’s desk - that is - when he has an interest in doing his job, he’s there.

    So you have to give the guy some credit. The could be a place at a negociating table for a Gomer Pyle-like charmer with tossly hair and grin that loves John Wayne movies and Elvis, the Cubs and himself.

    Maybe not at the utilities negociating table, but c’mon - are you saying the guy is completely useless?

    Um, yeah, I guess he is - but Bill loves him!

  4. - Cassandra - Tuesday, Jun 26, 07 @ 9:17 am:

    It says, as some analyst point out, that we hired a campaigner and not a policy wonk. And in today’s complex, transparent world that is just not enough. Increasingly, you actually have to be smart and educated in order to run a large government unit. And Blagojevich isn’t.

    Next best thing would be a Mayor Daley type. He’s not that smart either. But he knows how to hire and keep really smart people and give them enough space to actually implement policies. Sometimes it doesn’t work. But oftentimes it does. Chicago really is an amazing city and a lot of good changes have come under Daley, despite the
    persistence of widespread traditional Democratic urban corruption. That’s why he keeps getting re-elected.

    But Blago doesn’t seem to be able to get and keep high-quality staff either. Sheila and Louanner are nice ladies but they seem to lack both the fire and the ability to get things done. And Filan is smart but, well, whiney. No fire in the belly there.

    What to do? I don’t know. Given his serious lack of abilities, I could see Blago trying to hang onto this job for the next decade at least. A challenge from within the party would give the fractious Dem leaders pause. Maybe they could
    buy him a nonprofit executive job somewhere.
    Several hundred thou a year, free luxury car, and going to lots of fundraising events. He might be good at that.

  5. - Ghost - Tuesday, Jun 26, 07 @ 9:22 am:

    Elvis has left the building?

  6. - Stupid is as stupid does. - Tuesday, Jun 26, 07 @ 9:27 am:

    Milo’s preoccupied with making sure all those subpoenas never becoming public knowledge.

  7. - Captain America - Tuesday, Jun 26, 07 @ 9:38 am:

    I have always been curious why Governor Blagojevich never took a more active interest and role in the electricty rate issue. It’s hard to fathom, particularly since it such a hot issue in downstate areas. Maybe he felt it would detract from his priamry concern this session - better access to health care for the uninsured?

    Whatever the reason, it suggests a fundamental indiffernence to the real day-to-day pocket-book concerne of a large number of working people, whose cause he espouses so vigorously when he promises to veto any propsoed sales or income tax increase. It’s a real conumdrum and an anomaly.

    He was so wiulling to bash business with respect to his GRT proposal. It’s not clear why he has ben unwilling to similarly denounce the utility conglomerates.

    Given the general pattern of behavior of his administration, one can only conclude that he may be beholden to ComED and the other utility companies for campaign contributions. The only other explanation that I can think of is that he might have made an agreement with the Godfather,Senator Emil Jones, to adopt a hands-off aprroach on the electricity rate issue in return for Jones’ support on budget and tax issues.

    Gieven his inablity to deal reasonably and effectively and compromise with State legislative leaders on budget and tax issues, I think that his absence must be considered a positive factor in resolution of the utlity rate issue. His presence and participation might poison the atmoospere and impede the negotiations.

    His supportive posture with respect to the legislature- utility company negotiations seems far more positive than his threat to veto the the RTA-PACE-CTA sales tax increase in metropolitan Chicago.

  8. - dan - Tuesday, Jun 26, 07 @ 9:39 am:

    Are “incompetence” or “dereliction of duty” impeachable offenses?

  9. - Macbeth - Tuesday, Jun 26, 07 @ 9:41 am:

    So I ask — and ask — what, exactly, does Blagojevich do all day? He’s obviously not pulling a Bill Clinton — and obsessively diving into the details.

    So, then … what?

    He flies planes back and forth. This is annoying, but it’s probably just how things are. And talking about this is probably pointless. But what’s not pointless is to get a fix on what the governor … does.

    I want to be careful here. But I’m assuming his wife *does* work. She’s obviously not flying planes back and forth to the office. Right?

    So he’s a stay-at-home Dad, I take it. Certainly not a bad thing. A good thing. But there are times — and this, right now, might be one of those times — where the stay at home dad has to get up and go. I assume that in a crisis — and we do seem to be approaching a crisis — that Blagojevich’s wife could take over the parenting duties for a bit, no? Perhaps she has some personal days she can use?

    What I’m saying is that I don’t get it. Blagojevich isn’t a detail guy. The details confuse him. And he’s not a particularly savvy backslapper. I mean, no one trusts or likes him — so the “negotiator” or “compromiser” tag is probably out.

    But if he can’t do details — or does details so poorly that he confuses the issue (the Nazi comparison, for example) — and he can’t shake hands and schmooze and cut deals — then what, for god sakes, does this man do?

    The mix of detail and the back-slapping seem to be a necessary trait of any career politician. Sure, it’s nice to have family and religious ties, too — but these usually — usually — take back seat to the fundamental ability of you, the politician, to size someone up, make them feel like a million bucks, and then persuade them — gently — that you’ve got what he (or she) needs.

    If you can’t do this — and Blagojevich, apparently, can’t — then what is there?

  10. - Justice - Tuesday, Jun 26, 07 @ 9:41 am:

    It says he is an idiot and is starting to realize it. He is in over his head and is starting to realize it. He is out of his league and is starting to realize it. He is lost in the complexity of running state government and is starting to realize it. Intimidation and coercion is the mark of a person who does not have the intelligence to lead, to encourage, and to create harmony and growth. He is an embarrassment to us all and needs to remove himself from office. If we are lucky, he’ll take take another bus trip, with his hacks, and just keep driving till his term has expired.

  11. - Concerned citrizen - Tuesday, Jun 26, 07 @ 10:14 am:

    This should be an easy one for the GUV. Simply lay out to the CEOs you give back a lot of the rate increase or we will do it for you with a rate freeze and retroactive so the utilities can simply stall the negotiations. He and teh legislature have the power and all of the power cards on this one.

    A strong CEO holding all of the cards at the negotiating table always gets his way, but a weak CEO is in danger of giving away the store.

    I have seen it several times - Three or four strong CEOs will come out of a meeting with an agreement provided all of them went into the meeting with the desire to get an agreement.

    A weak (position or talent) CEO takes either of two tracks

    1. I will agree with whatever you decide,(give away the store) or
    2. Seek to shut down the meting with wild or extravagant demands or positions.

    I have no idea why the GUV is not active in the rate negotiations - a very hot political subject that can easily come back to haunt him at the next election, which all of our Pols are very much interested in.

  12. - Governor's buying time - Tuesday, Jun 26, 07 @ 10:34 am:

    Next election, give me a break! The only board the governor will be meeting with in his furure is the parole board.

  13. - Little Egypt - Tuesday, Jun 26, 07 @ 11:26 am:

    Rich, you have hit the nail on the head with one word. What a great description. Elvis is good at two things - campaigning and speeches. Love it! I was hoping to come up with something other than GoverNOT Elvis. Now it’s GoverNOT Speechify.

  14. - Little Egypt - Tuesday, Jun 26, 07 @ 12:47 pm:

    Justice - he may realize it but do we?????? Sadly, I don’t think the voters are there yet.

  15. - Justice - Tuesday, Jun 26, 07 @ 1:49 pm:

    The folks participating in this blog are articulate, or in my case…a good listener, and most realize the predicament we are in, regardless of party affiliation. The truly scary part is that the average voter doesn’t have a clue. We put people of low moral character in charge of billions of dollars. Thank goodness, there are actually some elected officials with a moral compass who try and do what is right. Unfortunately they are drowned out by the money interests and those with a personal agenda to acquire their slice of the pie, at the expense of everyone else. It is through this blog and its monitor that we can discern what’s shaping up, who is reaching into our pockets, and who is serving the people. It is this island of sanity and thoughtful, informed discussion that gives me hope.

  16. - Moderate Repub - Tuesday, Jun 26, 07 @ 2:17 pm:

    “Justice” The Gov hasn’t started to realize anything. He never will. He will be lame once the Feds freeze his accounts.

    “concerned Citizen” The Legislature, you says has the power to institute a rate freeze, as if they hold all the cards. This is simply not true. A large reason the Utilites are not bowing down is because they know if the Legislature does institute a rate freeze, the utilities will march across the street, file their lawsuit and the courts will find for the Utilites. I am tired of peoples ignorance on this issue. If it was that easy of a fix it would have been taken care of. Know a little about what you are talking about before you waste space.

  17. - Cassandra - Tuesday, Jun 26, 07 @ 3:40 pm:

    I think Moderate Repub is right on the utilities issue. It’s complicated. And whatever decision is made will no doubt lead to another series of problems, some of them unexpected. We are going to have to pay more for utilities for the foreseeable future, no matter what happens.

    As I said above, I don’t know what the solution
    is for Blagojevich’s lack of intellect and public policy knowledge. But I am very certain that hoping that he will be indicted is a waste of time. It is quite possible that some officials in his administration, down the food chain, will be indicted and even convicted. But assuming Blago will end up in jail is the purest conjecture. More realistically, we should be thinking about what to do if he decides to stay on indefinitely. He’s fifty years old. We could be talking three, four, five more terms. It’s happened. And if that’s his plan, it won’t be that easy to unseat him.

  18. - Anon - Tuesday, Jun 26, 07 @ 4:23 pm:

    Blago hasn’t gotten into the rate freeze because it’s highly complex. He doesn’t do highly complex. The sad thing is that even if the Madigans get their way on this, they’re simply winning the battle but will ultimately lose the war. Blago, by being lazy and dumb, avoids this problem.

    If what’s been in the media is true, the settlement will resulte in some money now and the establishment of a state procurement agency to buy power. If that agency can’t find any power that’s as cheap or cheaper than what people are complaining about now, there’s no one to blame. Not the ICC, not the utilities, just the Speaker, Rep. Scully, and to a very large degree, the Atty Gen. In an odd way, the fact that the Madigans actually care about this issue, that they’re trying to solve this issue is very likely going to hurt them politically in 2010 when the rate impacts of the procurement authority’s purchases are filtering down to us little people.

  19. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, Jun 26, 07 @ 5:16 pm:

    Might have screwed them up.”

    Rich, I don’t think that word means what you think it means. :-)

  20. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jun 26, 07 @ 5:43 pm:

    I could’ve been more definitive, but I was looking at photos of you at the pride parade at the time and was distracted.

  21. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jun 26, 07 @ 5:43 pm:

    true story

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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