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Beyond the pale *** UPDATED x1 ***

Wednesday, Jul 23, 2008

* Cokie and Steve Roberts praise governors

In a welcome relief from the politics of blaming the other party for the inaction that infests Washington, the men and women who occupy the nation’s statehouses are noticeably more interested in finding solutions, many of them wonderfully wonky, to the problems facing their citizens.

* As is typical for DC types, they visited a meeting of the National Governors Association and declared governors to be superior. Well, they really need to visit Illinois

After eight years of helping homeless and drug-addicted mothers, A Safe Haven sits on the brink of oblivion. Eighty women and 40 children may be kicked out of their apartments beginning Thursday if lawmakers don’t restore money taken away by Gov. Rod Blagojevich. […]

“This is the first time I’ve ever experienced anything like this. The cuts have been so drastic,” said Sterling Gildersleeve, executive director of the Alsip facility, which may begin separating families as soon as Thursday. […]

Repeated calls to the governor’s office for comment weren’t returned.

The story concludes with a quote from a former addicted mother who was hired by the center…

“We’re citizens, and we need help. It’s like our lives (aren’t) important.”

Those lives aren’t important. Not to the people who run Illinois, anyway.

* A rally yesterday attempted to draw attention to this particular issue

More than a thousand demonstrators gathered at the James R. Thompson Center on Tuesday, calling for state lawmakers to override Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s veto of $43 million in funding for alcohol and substance abuse recovery services. […]

Protesters hoped to get the attention of Senate President Emil Jones (D-Chicago), who is ultimately responsible for re-convening the Senate in Springfield and following the House’s suit in casting an overriding vote.

Jones was not immediately available for comment.

* Seeing a pattern?

The Blagojevich administration Tuesday continued to say little publicly about how it plans to deal with cuts to the state budget.

* Nobody wants to talk to the press, but they’re still ginning up the hatred. Check out a couple of photos from yesterday’s protest rally. Gee, I wonder who might’ve sponsored these guys?…

So helpful. Seriously. Way to go, guv.

* More about the cuts were in a letter from TASC Inc. Belleville….

The Senate can sit idle as 42,000 people are kicked out of care, as current waiting list of 7,500 is doubled and as public safety decreases. Or, the Senate can restore the state’s budget for treatment, and avert the costly consequences to families, communities, and taxpayers.

Methinks they’ll sit idle.

* Meanwhile, Gov. Blagojevich has never been to a state park in his entire life, and it shows

A coalition of conservation and environmental groups called Tuesday for Gov. Rod Blagojevich to put off implementing $14 million in budget cuts for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. […]

“We’re calling on the governor not to make any cuts until after (the Nov. 4 election) and to keep the budget where it is right now,” said John Gaudette of the Illinois Environmental Council. […]

“The Department of Natural Resources is already at a skeleton level,” he said.

It’s a hollow shell. We have a DNR in name only

The cuts will bring the department’s budget to $52 million, down from $108 million in 2004, Osmond said.

* Mothers and children are about to be kicked out of treatment centers, DNR is in meltdown mode, and this is all we have to show for the past month and a half

Construction will start back up today on several local projects after state officials fixed a mix-up in the current budget.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Tuesday signed into law Senate Bill 1130, which lawmakers approved two weeks ago. It clarifies state budget language that his administration said had stalled 39 construction projects statewide.

Hooray for progress!!!

* Related…

* Our (state) house divided against itself cannot stand

* The real victims of the Illinois budget crisis

* Nature groups urge governor to hold off on budget cuts

* Park advocates want state money restored

*** UPDATE *** Senate President Emil Jones talked to some reporters today. Of course, nobody apparently asked him about the no-growth budget bills still sitting idly in his chamber…

“We have to have a balanced budget,” Jones said. “I’m not going to get involved in playing silly games and giving false hopes to people when the money isn’t there. I support many of the programs that cut. But we in the Senate also supported the revenue to support the budget. That’s why we passed the revenue to support the budget in May. Now, if the House was genuinely sincere about passing those programs, then they in turn would pass the revenue to support it.”

Jones compared the House’s approval of the budget without enough revenue to support it to “check kiting.”

“The House is good at check kiting. Send them a big check, knowing dog-gone well the check is going to bounce. And that’s where we stand right now.”

Jones also insisted the Senate’s absence from Springfield to deal with the budget had nothing to do with having to confront the pay raise issue head-on if he returned. The Senate has two legislative session days left to reject a raise that would boost the salaries of lawmakers and many other state officials salaries by about 7.5 percent by next summer.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Dan S, a voter and Cubs Fan - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 9:01 am:

    So while Blagoof, Emil and Rickey “The Thug” get double didgit pay raises and 42,000 people are kicked out of care that they need. What is wrong with this picture?

  2. - Greg - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 9:03 am:

    Wow, those two signholders sure do have similar handwriting.

  3. - BandCamp - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 9:07 am:

    I’m no expect on Rich’s mind, but I’ve never seen him write with such disappointment.

    He’s right on message though…self-preservation and selfish indulging by our elected leaders makes me want to puke in my mouth.

  4. - ZC - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 9:09 am:

    Someone ought to start a sign movement “Blagojevich is making me into a Republican.”

  5. - GoBearsss - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 9:12 am:

    Did someone find a magical money tree somewhere? ‘Cause if all that was needed for people to get their money was for the Senate to reverse the overrides, that would be great.

  6. - DumberThanUThink - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 9:12 am:

    Looks like Dep. Gov Head Bump has had the budget for Thugs (Madigan protestors) cut back too….Times are tough.
    Looks like Blagoof might need to offer free rides for the drug addicts to solve the budget problems…..Wanna bet he sez he did not know DASA funded these local treatment programs
    Now lets head to Hollywood Ho’s crib, bang on some potsf and yell “Hey Ho, put some money in our pot!”

  7. - Kevin Fanning - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 9:13 am:

    Good morning GoBearsss!

  8. - Bill - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 9:15 am:

    Was it also “ginning up the hatred” when House Dems held two rounds of innumerable “budget hearings” around the state which turned into games of slam the Governor and Senate, followed by the infamous impeachment memo?
    No one is more unhappy about the state of government than me but there is plenty of blame to go around, including to House dems and their leader.
    The only people who should be held harmless are the Repubs since they have been irrevelant for most of the decade.

  9. - Captain Flume - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 9:16 am:

    I have always wondered why someone in high-profile journalism would find the name “Cokie” a professional asset. I know that is off-subject, my attention span for seeing the light at the of Illinois’s political tunnel is becoming horribly foreshortened.

  10. - fed up - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 9:19 am:

    I see some more of Emil Jones family got jobs from blago probably state grant money for a civics class.

  11. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 9:21 am:

    ===The only people who should be held harmless are the Repubs since they have been irrevelant for most of the decade.===

    Except the HGOPs refused to negotiate on a funds sweep alternative last week.

  12. - problem - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 9:23 am:

    Rich, who exactly did you say “predicted” Madigan would wear the hat for these cuts?

    I have heard the Gov’s people (rightly) put the blame on Madigan for failing, but I never heard or read that any of them just assumed Madigan would bear the brunt.

    Kind of a red herring, it seems.

  13. - DumberThanULook - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 9:25 am:

    Don’t mind my racist Madigan staffer counterpart “DumberThanUThink”.

    He still thinks Madigan calling top African American women leaders names is a good idea!

  14. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 9:29 am:

    ===I have heard the Gov’s people (rightly) put the blame on Madigan for failing, but I never heard or read that any of them just assumed Madigan would bear the brunt.===

    I heard it time and time again from you people. Don’t deny it. Deal with it.

    And how about trying to actually govern? “Govern” in case you missed it, is the root word of “governor.”

  15. - Team America - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 9:31 am:

    Not only do IDNR budget cuts impact its ability to protect the environment, cutting its budget to the bone also impacts economic development in the state. For any major project that requires an endangered species review, incidental take permit, or other environmental signoff or authorization from the DNR, the wait times are increasing exponentially and it’s getting hard to actually build anything on time in Illinois. Thanks, guv.

  16. - Six Degrees of Separation - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 9:35 am:

    Considering the ever-so-relevant Republican Party in IL, I wonder if signs saying “Madigan is a Whig” or “Madigan is a Green” wouldn’t be equally as effective.

  17. - Six Degrees of Separation - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 9:37 am:

    Team America,

    If you think DNR is slow with their permitting process, just try getting a development permit through IDOT these days.

  18. - Cassandra - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 9:38 am:

    Well, one thing he could cut is the DCFS officials responsible for the tragic case of Kevin Johnson, a special needs 12 year old who died Saturday under suspicious circumstances despite being under investigation by DCFS’ child protection division since April. Autopsy reports are pending but at a custody hearing regarding his surviving siblings,
    DCFS investigators, too late, described a household where abuse was pervasive and where Kevin himself was beaten severely on the day he died. Investigators also said the children were denied food and water in a household run “boot-camp” style. How DCFS missed all this during a two-month “investigation” is beyond understanding.

    Last week we learned that DCFS stopped doing utilization reviews of pscyhiatric units where it places its wards, around the time Blagojevich took over DCFS, thereby apparently
    missing ongoing mistreatment of children, including its own wards at Riveredge, a private psychiatric facility.

    The week before that we learned that a Midlothian
    father who was charged with putting his children in a cage in his car while he worked received “supportive services” from DCFS last. year. Apparently, those services didn’t including affordable day care, which might have actually helped in this case.

    A change in management is clearly needed at DCFS,
    but that is unlikely to happen an an agency which is heavily politicized and which is home to many
    Emil/Blago cronies, who are paid very well for their supposed efforts on behalf of children.

    As we have seen with the Bush administration, the
    use of public agencies to reward political supporters with jobs and contracts can have disastrous results for those who rely on those agencies for service. And the Democrats can’t blame this one on George Ryan. They have to look at themselves.

  19. - Team America - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 9:42 am:

    Six Degrees- you’re right about IDOT too, but IDOT doesn’t have an ‘excuse’ based on their staff being cut in half…

  20. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 9:43 am:

    There are really no villians here, except reality. After 30 years of GOP rule, Illinois elected a Democrat with Democrats in the majorities in the General Assembly. Naturally there was a pent-up need for payback for all those years in the Wilderness.

    If Blagojevich was a normal Democratic governor, he would have quickly raised taxes wherever he could, but use the increase to boost social programs to look good. But Blagojevich wanted to run for president and locked himself into a no tax increase pledge he thought he could use to ride into the Oval Office. His White House dreams live on, although reality is writing a different ending for him. Be that it may, Blagojevich didn’t use a proven Democratic method of raising taxes early in his first term to pay for the social spending he wanted to write his legacy with.

    This left only state credit and borrowing to pay for the social spending rampage the Democrats went on. Knowing that his no-tax pledge would be a problem, Blagojevich searched for new ways to raise state money, including selling state assets such as the Thompson Center, the State Lottery, Tollways and other gimmicks. This kind of experimentation wasn’t bad, and I admire his creativity, but reality bit once again and the cash flow fell far short of what was needed.

    By the time we spent through all the credit, asset sales and loans, the bills came in and swamped the Comptroller. Increased social programs meant new higher costs and Blagojevich borrowed from the state pension system and delayed medical payments. The Bush economic boom from 2003-2007 didn’t increase tax revenue enough to cover these additional costs.

    Now we are in a terrible bind. Our economic growth is flat, we have backpayments in the billions and one of the country’s worst debts. Yet citizens brought into Blagojevich’s social programs are now dependant on them at a time when they are now unsupportable. It isn’t their fault and as we now face an uncertain economic cycle nationally, more citizens will need to use them.

    We are flat out busted at the worst time. Blagojevich has no other out except by cutting back on social programs he championed only a couple years ago. The skyrocketing costs of these programs, coupled with Illinois’ economic climate have created a perfect storm of economic disaster.

    Even if we had boom economic years, the kinds of programs enacted by Blagojevich would have been a strain. He spent money we didn’t have, on programs we didn’t need, in order to impress people he didn’t know. Rod Blagojevich gambled our state’s economic health in order to appear as a national presidential candidate. He lost that bet. And so did we.

  21. - anon332 - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 9:43 am:

    “Govern” in case you missed it, is the root word of “governor.”

    It is also the root word of “government” which Mike Madigan is a part of. Not sitting with other state leaders - regardless of whether you like them or not - is inexcusable. MJM is as much to blame for this mess as anyone else.

  22. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 9:45 am:

    Timing is everything, and if you’re trying to rally a public outcry about the state budget, the timing couldn’t be worse.

    First and foremost, it’s summer. The relatively small percentage of the population that pays attention to the state budget are busy.

    Also, there’s a lot of economic news rattling around that makes the problems of state budget cuts amount to a hill of beans.

    Finally, for those paying attention, the Trib’s RickEy Hendon story over the weekend stung. Unfairly, a lot of state stakeholders are smeared with that scandal in many people’s minds.

    Given all those factors and an overall economic anxiousness, there’s less interest than usual in programs for substance abuse, domestic violence, or others facing hard knocks in life.

    Batten down the hatches; it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

  23. - problem - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 9:47 am:

    You are very funny, Rich.

    But isn’t “governing” exactly what they are doing? Wasn’t that the refrain heard over and over on this blog - that he should stop trying to go after the new revenue and do his job and make the cuts?

    My position is - I don’t want anyone to wear the hat. A simple fund transfer bill could have ended this mess a long time ago. And everyone could be happy.

  24. - Irish - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 9:48 am:

    I have wondered if there are any deluded people out there who still think the gov is doing an okay job. Amazingly some of today’s posts show that there are. Okay, there is no money, something needs to be done, and no one is totally blameless in all of this mess. But Blago IS the Governor, like it or not, it is his job to get the leaders together and resolve this for the sake of the citizens of Illinois. He was not shy about calling special sessions last year. Why not this year? Because it is more important to fat cats like Jones that they protect their raises at the expense of the taxpaying folks that need these programs, and Blago doesn’t want to lose his raise or alienate Jones so he will not work to resolve this he will lay it all on Madigan. I don’t care what your affiliations are, if you don’t see this as the most arrogant, self preserving, selfish, uncaring, childish, position for a Governor to take, I feel sorry for you.
    After seeing what the gov is willing to cut and who he is willing to have bear the brunt of the hardships one begins to wonder if his claims in the past of wanting only the best for the kids and poor of the state through universal health care was just a ploy for a photo-op.
    Emil, you better go get them food stamps before they are all gone.

  25. - Irish - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 9:52 am:

    Kudos VM, you hit the nail right on the head.

  26. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 9:55 am:

    problem, you can cherry pick a few comments from the blog to make whatever point you want.

    ===A simple fund transfer bill could have ended this mess a long time ago. And everyone could be happy.===


    Absolute bull.

    The governor lobbied against a compromise bill. He wanted his bill. Nothing else. The HGOPs refused to negotiate, the Senate Dems refused to take it up even if the House passed it.

    Try not to blatantly lie here. I’m in no mood for it.

    Save that crud for Chicago reporters who don’t know what the heck you’re talking about.

  27. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 10:01 am:

    anon332, you are right that they all share the blame.

    But the governor is the top dog. This is a fact y’all seem to understand on some things, but not the important stuff, like leading.

    The only thing the governor leads any more is the finger-pointing choir.

    And people wonder why I support a con-con.

  28. - ZC - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 10:01 am:

    If we want to get philological, the root word for “governor” would be “kubernetes,” from the Greek word for pilot. The governor is thus the pilot of a ship, today we’d say “the ship of state,” and that means to govern is to steer.

    And I suppose Blago does steer … just with no attention paid to the winds, the stars in the sky, the state of the ship, and the storm clouds overhead. He’s the pilot who never leaves his cabin.

  29. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 10:06 am:

    Also, when I first started reporting, MJM never went to budget negotiations. He sent McPike, his Majority Leader.

    Pate Philip often wouldn’t return phone calls from Thompson and Edgar and refused to even let them in his office for weeks at a time. They both figured out how to lead him back into the fold every time this happened. Madigan and Edgar had enormous blow-ups. Madigan and Phil Rock had big problems. Everything always got resolved somehow.

    For whatever reason, you think this stuff is new. It’s not. Deal with it.

    The point is, this didn’t start out as a nuclear war, but it escalated to this point under RRB’s watch.

    And all we get from y’all are lies and still more finger-pointing.

    Thanks so much.

  30. - GoBearsss - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 10:07 am:

    Feisty, Rich, feisty.

    I think you are misreading poor “problem”’s comments.

  31. - Ghost - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 10:07 am:

    Madigan passed a zero growth budget. The Gov and his allies refused to have it taken up. The Gov was banking that he could force the General Assembly into accepting one of his revenue generating schemes by working with Jones to get a budget with holes passed. The Gov worked with his allies to get a short funeded budget passed. The Gov addded roughly 400 Million increase to education. Cut that out and put education on the same budget it had lat year and you can fund all of these other grps.

    The Gov could have vetoed the budget to mirror MM zero growth budget, but the Gov refused to consider a zero growth budget because he had plans to gain publicity by funding health care and education. The Gov thought he could force the house to pass his revenue generating schemes, most of which just mire Illinos future in an even worse fiscal cirsis then today, and he thought wrong.

    MM created and the house passed the solution to our budget problem, a zero growth budget. The Senate through Jones and the Gov refused to even consider a budget that did not increase spending for pet projects and sound bite topics, so we are stuck with this mess because of Jones and the Gov.

    If it were not for MM we would have sattlked the future with crippling bond debt, loss of State assets for pennnies and other horrific ideas designed to raiuse fast cash now and put off until tomorrow those bills.

    I am just Glad MM is protecting us, since the senate dems and GOP are more intereted in increased spending then fiscal repsonsibility.

  32. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 10:08 am:

    GoBearsss, today is not the day.

  33. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 10:10 am:


    Congrats on the Chicago mag mention. They couldn’t be more correct.

    I hope you get a few days off but I wouldn’t book any non-refundable trips with this Governor around.

  34. - problem - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 10:18 am:

    Didn’t mean to set you off, Rich. You definitely need a vacation.

    Haha - suddenly I am the cause of this nuclear war?

    Calm down. This ain’t me.

  35. - GoBearsss - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 10:20 am:

    “I am just Glad MM is protecting us, since the senate dems and GOP are more intereted in increased spending then fiscal repsonsibility. “

    said with a straight face, too….

  36. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 10:20 am:

    I didn’t blame you for this becoming a nuclear war. Go read it again. And leave the patronizing attitude at the door, please.

    Seriously, I’ve really had enough of you people for a while.

  37. - anon332 - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 10:25 am:

    I just want to get this straight - so everyone is supposed to bow down and accept Madigan’s zero-growth budget even though all the other caucuses signed off on the one with increased spending and the funding measures?

    From what I understand, 3 of the 4 leaders supported the budget with the revenue measures (the one to pay for the all the programs that are being cut) - one leader didn’t.

    I thought majority ruled. Oh, wait, that’s in a democracy - not in Springfield.

  38. - trafficmatt - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 10:26 am:

    Is it just me, or do the two signs that are held by GUYS look like women’s penmanship?

    “Here hold this sign up and act like you are really mad”. I can just hear the conversation. Come on, if you are going to stage a phony protest, at least make it LOOK authentic. Bunch of rookies.

  39. - DumberThanUThink - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 10:37 am:

    I have had enough too.
    I know a lot of very bright women of all shapes and sizes. Dep. Gov. Head Bump does not make that list, but then I don’t take their checks
    I hope the FBI takes up the Trib suggestion to help Hollywood Ho ( is a title the other Dumber doesn’t like?) with his grant review process.
    Read him rights too.

  40. - Larry Mullholand - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 10:43 am:

    Problem stated “A simple fund transfer bill could have ended this mess a long time ago. And everyone could be happy.”

    Pllllleeeeaase this is such sillyness. There HAVE BEEN fund sweeps since he took office…How has the situation improved?

    I wonder what world the blago crew are living in. Since his first day in office he & his people have shown a callous disregard for individuals he directly affects. It has only become worse and more callous.

  41. - Bill - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 10:47 am:

    “A simple fund transfer bill could have ended this mess a long time ago.”
    Well, problem, not exactly. A simple tax increase during our fearless leader’s first term could have helped solved the problem but, nooooooooooo…
    Anyway, there aren’t enough funds to be swept to solve the structural deficit without enhancing revenue so before we start calling people Republicans we should probably do what VanMan says we democrats do, RAISE TAXES! Both Madigan and Jones would have gone along. But noooooooooo!

  42. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 10:50 am:

    ===A simple fund transfer bill could have ended this mess a long time ago.===

    “A long time ago,” it was a fund transfer and a pension obligation bond. Both of those were designated by the governor as must-haves. Now, it’s just a fund sweep. But not any fund sweep. RRB’s fund sweep.

  43. - A Citizen - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 10:50 am:

    Rich, you need to hook up the spare bilge pump from your boat to the Blog and turn it on - you can use this comment to prime it. LOL!

  44. - Bill - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 10:56 am:

    Have a good vacation and congratulations on your well deserved award. As has been said many times before, you guys make our jobs so much easier. Coverage of contributions was, as usual, excellent and saved us all a lot of time.
    I don’t know where I’ll surf for fun for the next few days…maybe to OneMan’s. He hasn’t had a comment in 3 years.
    Get out of the patch for a while!!

  45. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 11:02 am:

    ===From what I understand, 3 of the 4 leaders supported the budget with the revenue measures (the one to pay for the all the programs that are being cut) - one leader didn’t.===

    More lies.

    The House Republicans - all of them - voted against all budget bills. I’ll check the Senate GOP votes if this person comments again.

  46. - Kevin Fanning - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 11:12 am:

    “Must you turn my blog into a house of lies!”

  47. - Bluefish - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 11:25 am:

    Vanilla Man and Bill both agree that taxes should have been raised? Wow, it is time for a vacation.

    We have a structural deficit. Ralph Martire has been pushing this for years and his solution to extend the sales tax to services (hair cuts, lawn care, legal fees) makes a great deal of sense. Until we get rid of Blago and his cast of amateurs (with their shell games instead of solutions) and put some professional leadership in charge we will continue to face this crisis every year.

    Maybe it is time for me to copyright “Overtime in Hell 2009″ and “Overtime in Hell 2010″.

  48. - Springfield Alum - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 11:27 am:

    You’ve hit your stride today. Keep it up! We need your historical perspective and the dose of reality you provide.

    BTW, I always find it interesting whn the Blago-ites and the Emil-logs chastise the Speaker for not participating in budget negotiations. As you rightly point out, he has always participated, but primarily through his Majority Leader and Chief Budgeteer. And when he has needed to be there to close a deal, he has.

    There are so many people out ther who say that government should be run like a business. Well, has anyone ever seen how businesses negotiate deals?

    They usually send teams of upper level management types to meet with one another. The teams are given negotiating parameters and bottome lines in which they are authorized to act by their higher ups. All final deals are taken back to and approved by the higher ups. Unexpected issues that arise go back as well. The higher ups usually don’t show up until the end for the hand shaking and back slapping. Michael Madigan does things the same way.

    The problem over the past two years is that our State’s leaders have not been engaged in budget negotiations. Talks have been more of the “it’s our way or the highway” mode thanks to the Governor and President Jones. Why should Speaker Madigan participate directly in that? I personally am glad we have had people like Jim McPike, Barbara Flynn Currie, Gary Hannig and other legislative lieutenants that Madigan has relied on to negotiate on his behalf.

  49. - Captain Flume - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 11:46 am:

    I remember at the beginning of a legislative session (was it a couple years ago?) when the Speaker was addressing the House membership and laying out the kind of budgetary year it would be, i.e., don’t expect to get a lot of new programs or increases in then-current ones. It all seemed like a logical declaration to me. He and the Senate President and their respective chambers had already agreed to go along with big-time borrowing and swept funds and fee increases on just about everything but “people.” The tobacco money had run out, so Phillip Morris could no longer bail us out. He ruled out an income or sales tax increase because he knew that the Governor is opposed to those revenue sources. All those strings have been plucked and stretched to their limits. Maybe selling what you own to pay for what you want, instead of what you need, is a good idea. Maybe Illinois just go to a title loan outlet and work a deal with Title Max…oh, wait . . . that’s the lottery lease thing. Maybe we could play the numbers and hope we hit a jackpot . . . oh wait, that’s the casino revenue thing . . . or maybe we could all chip in and then we would all own a piece of the solution . . . oh, wait, that’s the increased tax thing.

    “We cant return, we can only look behind
    From where we came
    And go round and round and round
    In the circle game.”

  50. - Secret Square - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 11:55 am:

    Yes Rich, you do need a vacation and you had better take it while you can. With the Sun-Times, Trib, Gatehouse and Lee all going down in flames, you may soon be the only game in town when it comes to state government news!

  51. - Speaking At Will - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 11:58 am:

    How about I interject this, it always puts a smile on my face, and maybe it can give everyone a break from the tension on the blog today.

  52. - Policy from the Right - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 12:00 pm:

    The truth always hurts, as my grandmother would tell me, and the pictures tell 1000 stories, not just one.

  53. - Bill - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 12:00 pm:

    ==you may soon be the only game in town when it comes to state government news!==
    He already is.

  54. - Plutocrat03 - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 12:21 pm:

    Government at all levels and political persuasions have been using the same tools all along. Allow inefficiencies in operation and raise every innocuous tax you can. (e.g. 50 million last year for Chicago last year from red light cameras.)

    It is time to pay the piper. There are no more easy or sin taxes to raise. The political class only knows how to budget by multiplying last years allocation by a factor of 10% or more.

    Who will be the adult and learn how to run an organization in an efficient manner? Private businesses have been doing so for 20 years. It is time to use some techniques a first semester MBA student recognizes.

    I sympathize with RM’s frustration because each side tries to slant the discussion in their direction, hoping no one has the memory of the truth.

    There is enough money out there to satisfy most reasonable public needs. Where we get lost is in the ability to distinguish between what is truly necessary and what is simply pork and political payback. We can no longer afford the latter.

  55. - Pot calling kettle - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 12:28 pm:

    I e-mailed a longer version of this to Rich earlier today, but since he is having e-issues, here is an abridged version:

    Below is from a message I received regarding one of those “hidden” impacts that will result in service cuts, increased local expenditures, or both. Research is one of the biggies for libraries, and access to a wide variety of resources is crucial. For a small library (for example at a school or community college), these databases provide a much broader access than they would otherwise be able to provide. This amounts to an additional cut to higher ed that neither colleges nor students can afford.


    Last week that the Secretary of State’s budget was cut $26 million. As the Illinois State Library is under this department, some of those cuts were passed on to the State Library.

    The State Library’s reduction was to the area of their budget that supplies funding for electronic resources and the delivery of library materials throughout the state. The statewide delivery system funded by the State Library makes the interlibrary loan program possible for public, school, and academic libraries throughout the state. Not wanting to disrupt this service, the State Library opted to reduce the electronic resource budget and cut the number of databases offered through FirstSearch.

    FirstSearch is a collection of databases that has been provided at no charge by the State Library to the public and academic libraries in Illinois since 1994. The two databases within FirstSearch that provided many full-text articles are the two databases that have been cancelled by the State Library – Periodical Abstracts and Wilson Select Plus. Combined these two databases provide access to almost 4,000 magazines and journals. These cancellations are effective immediately.

    For many libraries, these two databases were the only ones available to their patrons.

  56. - fedup dem - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 12:35 pm:

    Of course cokie roberts and her husband will praise governors as a bloc, even Gov. Sleazy. After all, his antics, following those of George Ryan, are making Cokie’s native Louisiana look good by comparision!

  57. - BandCamp - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 12:47 pm:

    Ok, as a former college student, I cannot phathom not being able to utilize FirstSearch.

    Go ahead Emil, laugh all the way to the bank.

    All I can say is, wow.

  58. - BandCamp - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 12:49 pm:

    phathom, wow. my brain is not working after reading all these posts.

  59. - Clown Band roadie - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 12:49 pm:

    Wait, everybody’s taking off, and we haven’t yet set the over-under on if Blago will attend any part of the State Fair this year!

  60. - TaxMeMore - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 1:02 pm:

    Dick Durbin was just in town for the groundbreaking of a brand new $15 million park in Springfield and to give them more money. So which is it, we have enough money to spend on new parks or we don’t have enough money to keep up the current ones?

    Perfect illustration to prove these idiots have way more than enough money but don’t have a clue about priorities or spending it efficiently and effectively with accountability.

    Absolutely, Dick Durbin, lets open a brand new park when all the others in the state are crying that the drunk drivers and druggies are about to take over the parks if they don’t get more money. I guess Dick Durbin is building parks for drunk drivers and druggies according to the DNR’s scare tactics.

  61. - I'm Just Saying - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 1:17 pm:

    Okay that is the dumbest logic I have ever seen

    Okay, money is earmarked from whatever Federal fund for that park :)

    when ear marked it can’t be spent elsewhere

    So Damn it dont’ you see all of the rest of the problems in this state, take that Money from the Fed Dep’t of Ag, or whatever, and spend it elsewhere

    Damn the Torpedos and the Federal budget

    Tax Me More

    You are Spurious, Pork is Earmarked, it can’t be spent else where

    Rich is right, some of you folks are a bunch of idiots :)

  62. - Pot calling kettle - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 1:28 pm:

    ===A simple fund transfer bill could have ended this mess a long time ago.===

    This is where the problem started! Along with not putting $$ into pension funds and all of the other fig leaves used to try to cover the structural deficit. But then slapping a band-aid on a broken leg seems to have been the solution for quite a few years now.

  63. - Irish - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 1:36 pm:

    Taxmemore - First of all that is federal money and the money that supports IDNR is state money.
    Secondly and most importantly IDNR predictions from those that use and operate the parks, wildlife areas, and historic sites, are not scare tactics, they are real. Even if you never visit a park or DNR site the cuts will affect you. In a state that touts itself as a tourist destination you cannot close or cut back on the services of the destinations those tourists seek. Get rid of the tourist industry and the dollars that sportsmen bring in to the state’s economy and your name will be apropos.
    If you are one who enjoys the outdoors or the flora and fauna of the state then these cuts have the possibility to be drastic. Some of the wildlife sites provide food and rest areas for hundreds of thousands of migrating waterfowl and birds. Those sites maintain food supplies and habitat that are necessary for those migrants. The naturally occurring wetlands and food plots have long been eliminated in favor of urban sprawl and farmland. Without money or staff the food and habitat would no longer be available. Many of the migrants will go the way of the passenger pigeon. And I haven’t even started talking about recovering from years of neglect to buildings, facilities and recreation areas due to no money or staff. To paraphrase many learned scholars, A culture without wild places has lost it’s touch with God.

  64. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 1:54 pm:

    A couple of points to address a couple of comments…

    1.) If Blagojevich raised income taxes 1% with the other business taxes he raised during his first term, voters would not have been surprised and we wouldn’t have had to listen to all the infighting. Sure, he would have had to run in 2006 as the guy who raised everyone’s income tax, but considering all the social spending he planned on implementing, it would have balanced out for him politically. But staying politically viable in Illinois was not his plan. Like Obama, he saw his office as a stepping stone to leap from by 2004 or 2008.

    2.) Mentioning this doesn’t mean I think Blagojevich should have raised taxes. I would have preferred a governor who would have implemented a zero growth budget while plugging loopholes and government waste. I would have preferred a governor who didn’t hobble Illinois in health care commitments in order to look good as a presidential candidate.

    Much of Blagojevich’s first term moves regarding issues can be attributed to positioning himself for a White House run. His conservative tax stand, his moderate social stands, and his liberal universal health care program was planned, a-la-Mitt Romney. He never planned on a response regarding the Iraq War which began during his first term, and he still doesn’t boast one way or another.

    Obama played a better political game than Blagojevich, but then, Blagojevich had the responsibilities of being a governor. We normally elect governors as president. For the first time in 50 years we will get a US Senator as president, so Blagojevich’s gubernatorial route to the White House model makes traditional sense.

    Blagojevich had to decide whether to be an effective governor and raise taxes as expected by nearly all during his first term, or an effective presidential candidate that could deliver on universal health care without raising taxes. Rod Blagojevich went with his presidential dreams, but ended up with a flatlined state economy failing to deliver on his outrageously expensive social programs.

    Like Obama, Blagojevich should have been a US Senator; all talk with no responsibilities. But what we did learn about Blagojevich because he was a governor, and won’t know about Obama because he is a senator, is how badly suited he is to be a president.

  65. - TaxMeMore - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 2:20 pm:

    Irish, you assume the money people supposedly spend in our parks would vanish in thin air and not be spent elsewhere in the economy, and that the money is whatever layer of government that doesn’t communicate well instead of the taxpayers. You also assume government control is the best steward of the parks, when they are proving right now that they aren’t very good managing the people’s resources. In fact, the biggest polluter in Illinois, is government. Wildlife Prarie Park is considering going back to being private right now actually. You also assume that people who do use the parks wouldn’t pay to offset most costs and that everyone should be subsidized to use those resources preferrable taking an Amtrak right to the park’s front door. And just because IDNR’s budget is being cut by 2% to a funding level it had just 4 years ago and only FOR ONE YEAR, doesn’t equate to habitats being destroyed. You also assume that IDNR is not able to change or improve efficiency and that the only answer is more money from everyone. I happen to know that IDNR employees can be spared to take days off during petition challenges to kick candidates off the ballot. IDNR’s biggest problem protecting habitats is IDNR, not taxpayers paychecks.

    Bad assumptions and your last sentence is just more scare tactics without logic or common sense based on a one year budget. Maybe next year your glorious leaders will figure out how to not spend $5 million on bogus after school programs and use it for something necessary instead. If you really care about the environment and our parks as you claim, you should be the first calling for these leaders to resign so we can get some that know what priorities are, will actually work hard on a budget, and have respect for people’s paychecks.

  66. - TaxMeMore - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 2:36 pm:

    IDNR could fill its supposed funding gap from a fraction of the campaign coffers of Illinois Democrats that don’t have any political competition. Go hit them up for some money that is just sitting in their banks paying for their haircuts and gasoline and travel instead of crying for more money from poor families.

  67. - Irish - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 3:23 pm:

    Taxmemore - Didn’t quite understand some of your comments but will try to rebut

    If the tourist attractions are closed why would the tourists come? The money isn’t spent in parks. It is spent at hotels, restaurants, bars, bait shops, sporting goods stores, etc.
    Who else will run the parks or be the stewards? Who will be there to collect the camp fees, or fix the sanitary systems if they break, or supply water if the well goes down? Who will pick up the garbage? Who will subsidize the utility bills that now currently account for at least a third of most sites budgets? Between trash pickup and removal and utilities there is not much left to operate on, who will pay for that? Average cost for these line items runs in the tens of thousands of dollars per site.
    Wildlife Prairie Park was privately run by a foundation. They could not keep up with the cost. IDNR supplies most of the money and the foundation assists. With 1/2 of it’s budget in the current cuts, that is 50% not 2%, it is likely to suffer serious operational changes. The foundation might be forced to provide more money but I doubt they are considering taking it over.
    I don’t know where you are getting your figures but last year IDNR took a 13% reduction in it’s budget. This year in faces further budget reductions plus a reduction in staff of 11.5%. Since 2002 IDNR has lost one fourth of it’s employees due to budget cuts that prevent filling of vacancies and reduce staff. That is hardly 2% for one year. Due to the many exotics plant and animal species that have been introduced into our environment and the limited open spaces that we have a serious reduction in workforce over a six year period does have tremendous impacts on habitats. It only takes about three years for a warm season grass field, prairie, to become a shrub successional habitat loaded with exotics that are fast growing and choke out native species. So yes the situation is serious. Just ask the Chicago suburbs that are now facing the total removal of all ash trees from their villages what can happen in a short time if we are not vigilant.
    IDNR employees are, as all state employees are, humans and they get days off as most who work do. What they do on those days has no relevance to the discussion at hand.
    I am not sure which leaders you are speaking of but the after school thing was not, as I understand it, a problem with IDNR.
    Having candidates subsidize state agencies is also not a sound solution.
    Finally, lest you forget, state workers are taxpayers also, and we work long hours for our checks just as everyone else does.

  68. - Vote Quimby! - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 3:34 pm:

    Enjoy the break guys….go Cubs! (and, I guess the Sox too)

  69. - Princeville - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 3:37 pm:

    TaxMeMore-when is the last time you took a long visit to several state parks and looked underneath the surface? Any idea how many trucks and equipment is parked and has been parked for months and months? If there’s money in DNR it isn’t getting down to the front line upkeep. DNR LM is looking at a possible 13% personal service cut, come on out from behind your desk and prepared reports and visit the real shortfalls these sites are dealing with.

  70. - anon - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 3:49 pm:

    Why did the Guv and DNR just “negotiate” huge pay raises for the Site Supers that do not do anything but sit on their butts in their AC offices all day? Ours doesn’t even show up for work halve the time. He has no skills. breaks all that he touches and lives 55 miles from the park but drives DNR truck everyday.

  71. - Irish - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 4:00 pm:

    Hope your time off is relaxing, enjoy it. Thank you for providing a forum and font of information to us. I leave you with an auld irish blessing.

    May those who love us love us,
    And those that don’t may God turns their hearts,
    And if he can’t turn their hearts
    May he turn their ankles
    So we will know them by their limping.

  72. - Princeville - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 4:03 pm:

    anon-speak about your own SS but not all of them. I know one that worked up as much of a sweat clearing storm damage as the rest of the workers did.

  73. - anon - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 4:19 pm:

    Looking at the protesters I’m wondering who are tutoring the children today Rickey?

  74. - Arthur Andersen - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 4:34 pm:

    Rich-enjoy some time off, you’ve earned it.


  75. - Princeville - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 4:52 pm:

    Yeah, Rich has earned it, and I hope he and Kevin have a great little vacation , but geez, I hate it when the CaptFax takes a break. I’m so selfish.

  76. - Say WHAT? - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 5:00 pm:

    Rich Miller, my hero! SERIOUSLY! Thanks for the righteous indignation, and for exposing lies. Some of us out here still love truth. Daily, I listen to ordinary people who are fed up, who see the truth, who know that the news media doesn’t get it. The talking heads just regurgitate whatever the latest press release says. People are tired of the games played with their very lives, and the finger pointing games that follow. The chant I hear all day is IMPEACH IMPEACH.

    Thanks for calling bull bull. Its like a breath of fresh air! Enjoy your time away from snakes. You deserve it.

  77. - Link - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 7:22 pm:


    I am starting to like you!

    Keep up the good work.

  78. - Clown Band roadie - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 7:30 pm:

    DNR has long been one of the prime dumping grounds for patronage hacks. In among the actual dedicated staff of naturalists and land stewards doing good work, they fester like weeds, eating up resources. Every administration had them. Now this problem has come back to bite the agency because it has no respect from the gov’s office, and less support from the legislators. Reports of extreme bad behavior and abuses/ethical lapses by the agency head in the papers certainly doesn’t help.

  79. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jul 23, 08 @ 9:07 pm:

    It seems that many of us are going on vacation. I am, too. I started today at Comiskey Park, where Carlos Quentin rescued an ugly Sox performance with a three-run tater, his second, in the 8th. Hats off to Ozzie for firing them up by getting tossed.

    I’m grabbing a bushel of books. No Bush. No McCain. No Obama. No Iraq. Go old school and get back to basics. Recommended reading for all Cap. Fax. fans.

    ==Lincoln, Grant and Twain. Local boys made good. They never get old. They made American English poetry. Clear, direct, strong. I especially recommend Grant’s Civil War diaries. And if you hanker for a good cry, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and Second Inaugural get me every time.

    ==Anything by Studs. “Division Street America,” “Working,” “America: Lost and Found,” “The Good War.” The Sage of Uptown is not so much a writer, but he’s a hell of a listener. We’re going to miss him when he’s gone.

    ==The Albany Novels, by William Kennedy: “Legs Diamond,” “Billy Phelan’s Greatest Game,” and “Ironweed.”

    ==The Vidal American Novels: “Burr”, “Lincoln,” “1876,” “Empire,” “Hollywood,” “Washington, D.C.”

    If you need me, I’ll be at the CCC camp in Ludington, MI, enjoying the hard-work legacy of those young men and women of the Depression. Summer’s short — God bless you all and we’ll talk soon.

  80. - Vote Quimby! - Thursday, Jul 24, 08 @ 1:09 pm:

    ==The House is good at check kiting==

    Check kiting isn’t really around since they changed the rules to allow electronic banking after 9/11…you know, 7 years ago. But then, I wouldn’t accuse the Senate president of keeping up with the times…

  81. Pingback ArchPundit | Inane Editorial of the Day - Thursday, Jul 31, 08 @ 12:02 pm:

    […] this […]

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