* Mark Brown’s column says it all today. I’m going to excerpt more than I’m really supposed to because it’s so good…
Whether you agree with him or not, there’s no reason to doubt Rod Blagojevich’s commitment to gun control. Going back to his own legislative days, the governor has a long record of sponsoring and supporting serious gun control laws.
But there was something cruelly manipulative Monday about Blagojevich using an appearance with the families of gun violence victims to try to gain advantage in his budget negotiations with Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.
The mother of 14-year-old Starkesia Reed — killed inside a house last year by a stray bullet fired by a thug on the street with a modified AK-47 — led the group of family members demanding the Illinois Legislature take action on a proposed bill to ban high capacity ammunition clips used in semi-automatic weapons.
They were gathered outside Children’s Memorial Hospital under a searing July sun, and Blagojevich drew their cheers when he promised he would call the Legislature into special session to deal with the measure, which was previously approved by the Illinois Senate.
“This is the beginning of a whole series of special sessions that I will be calling to take care of unfinished business, and if some legislative leaders don’t want to call bills to a vote on their own, we’ll call special sessions and make them call these bills,” the governor shouted over the noise of an arriving helicopter.
The implication was that the gun bill had been impeded by Madigan, whose dispute with the governor on budgetary matters has sent the Legislature into overtime. The overtime was the inevitable outcome of one of the most bizarre legislative sessions most can remember, made stranger by the personal enmity between Blagojevich and Madigan.
But with Monday’s gambit, the governor only made matters worse in Springfield while doing nothing to help the cause he was supposedly advocating.
The gun bill’s House sponsor, Rep. Harry Osterman (D-Chicago), explained it was his own decision not to bring the issue to a vote for the simple and sensible reason he didn’t have the necessary 60 supporters to win passage.
And he closes with…
Blagojevich should slow down with the special sessions before he shoots himself in the foot again.
* Brown also reported that Blagojevich didn’t try to help pass the gun bill during the regular session or since then, which makes this comment by House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, a gun control supporter, in an AP story worth noting…
[Currie] suggested Blagojevich could have spoken up earlier rather than leading the charge in an overtime session of the Legislature.
* Rep. John Bradley put his finger on what the governor is really trying to do here…
Rep. John Bradley (D-Marion) referenced Lincoln’s famous speech to urge the House to stand together against the governor.
“This is an attempt to divide this House, to divide this caucus, to divide this state further,” he said.
*** UPDATE *** The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform notes that, unlike the gun bill, a wide-ranging ethics bill which already passed the House has 45 co-sponsors in the Senate - way more than enough to pass.
The ICPR rightly notes that the ethics bill “hasn’t even been assigned to a committee in the Senate”…
We’re not saying that [the governor] should call a Special Session for ethics. But if he did, we can see the quote now. “How is it that a bill that passed… the State House that would ban pay to play, didn’t get a chance to have a vote in the Senate?” How indeed.