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Truer words were never spoken

Wednesday, Jan 9, 2013

* Oswego Willy displayed his Golden Horseshoe Award chops in comments today

Quinn becomes more and more the “deer in headlights” because the levers of the Executive are too complicated to wield, and not because Madigan and Cullerton want to be so difficult, but because Quinn puts the Two true Leaders in position to HAVE to take on more of a role than the 1/3 that the Constitution describes.

This is the absolute heart of the problem. We have a basically well-intentioned governor who simply cannot govern.

There are plenty of other aspects, of course. Madigan has yet to truly get behind a pension fix, for example. But Jim Thompson, Jim Edgar and George Ryan all found ways to work with Madigan to get big things done and move this state forward. Pat Quinn has shown over and over and over again that he just can’t. And, as a citizen, I’m really getting tired of it.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Sinister - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 10:51 am:

    Hence, a Democratic primary to oust the ineffective Quinn.

  2. - Michael Westen - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 10:59 am:

    Not a big fan of Pat Quinn, but one of the “big things” Edgar, Thompson and Ryan got done with Madigan was fathering the pension crisis.

  3. - getting screwed - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 11:02 am:

    I agree with Sinister. Lisa will be our next governor.

  4. - Empty Chair - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 11:06 am:

    Can someone point to these “levers” that the Governor doesn’t grasp? I’m just curious how rank and file legislators don’t bear any of this responsibility for their unwillingness to take hard votes. The Governor proposed a pension plan in April, in the summer, had negotiations in the fall, called a special session, and was willing to go to extremes in this lame duck. What was he supposed to do? Meanwhile the rank and file tucked their tails between their legs and hoped no one would make them take any votes that could be cut into a 30 second ad.

  5. - Concerned Voter - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 11:06 am:

    While I agree that Quinn has been ineffective on a lot of issues and like the fact that Jim-Jim-and-George got things done, I would agree with Michael W that that is also part of why we are here. And factor in that Madigan has been around for a long time so he has a bigger part in this too.

  6. - Stones - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 11:07 am:

    PQ has a hard time passing legislation because he spent a career throwing stones and now he can’t understand why they won’t work with him. Go figure!

  7. - Knome Sane - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 11:08 am:

    I have said before that Quinn is like the dog that chased the car for so many years and finally caught the bumper. “What do I do with this now that I caught the darn thing?”

    Well, apparently, we now know the answer. Nothing.

  8. - Small Town Liberal - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 11:09 am:

    It’s no secret that I’m a Quinn supporter, so I’m sure my thoughts on this will be brushed aside, but can anyone tell me what issue this complicated any of those former governors were able to fix?

    We’ve all seen how well Edgar’s pension fix worked out.

    I’m not saying Quinn has handled this issue perfectly, but at least he’s willing to take his medicine and try, instead of just kicking the can like his predecessors. In a recession, no less.

    Call me an apologist, or whatever you’d like, but at least Quinn isn’t throwing up his hands and ignoring the problem. And it’s hard to say what any other governors would have done, because they chose not to do it.

  9. - Curious - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 11:14 am:

    I think Empty Chair makes a pretty good point. Sure, It’s pretty hard for the Governor to avoid the lion’s share of the blame for inaction or failed action on some important issues since he’s been in power. But it would be helpful if the people making this claim repeatedly offered up some specifics as to how they would do it better. The argument that he “can’t govern” is starting to lose some heft. And if the Dems really want someone else in charge, they are going to have to articulate that message more clearly well before the primary.

  10. - Crime Fighter - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 11:15 am:

    - Michael Westen - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 10:59 am:

    Not a big fan of Pat Quinn, but one of the “big things” Edgar, Thompson and Ryan got done with Madigan was fathering the pension crisis.

    Totally agree- The “get things done” included special pension sweeteners, patronage, and skipped pension payments.

  11. - OneMan - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 11:17 am:

    STL –

    I guess I would not be inclined to agree with Willy so much, if Quinn had done more than some small stuff to try and bring attention to the problem.

    Besides the last minute commission thing, which was daft and showed his weakness IMHO. I don’t recall ever really hearing a plan from him.

    That would have been step one.

    As for the Edgar plan, I think it would have been in better shape if the various ‘holidays’ had not been taken over the years.

    It’s not that I don’t think Quinn wants a solution, I think he wants it in part so his hands are not fiscally tied by larger and larger pension payments into the systems, but I think he just can’t seem to govern.

  12. - Liberty_First - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 11:18 am:

    Quinn has the mess all the other politicians built.

  13. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 11:19 am:

    Thank you Rich for the Props.

    To the Post, While the GA GOP is not in the equation, Pat Quinn needs to look at being Governor as a job that requies Govern-ing. There is a reason 1/3 of government is the Executive. Jim Edgar, Jim Thompson, and George Ryan were able to work with Madigan and find ways to get tough legislation passed. Quinn still believes that “Podium-Talk” is “Govern-Ing” and when Quinn tries to bring a Bill forward, Quinn is just not capable of those “levers” (working bills with the Legislative Leaders IS one of those ‘levers’ since you asked) to find a way to get things done.

    I, too, am sick of talkig about “making the sausage”, and “finding solutiions”

    Crazy thought: Ask Jim Edgar for advice on the tools that make the Executive work.

    Not policy advice, not personality advice, the Office of Governor advice. Presidents, even of the opposite party, ask former Presidents for advice … all … the … time.

    Again, Thanks Rich.

  14. - Dan Bureaucrat - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 11:20 am:

    I’m with Michael Westen and Small Town Liberal on this.

    Madigan isn’t behind it, the “Two True Leaders” don’t agree on an approach, the rank-and-file have NOT faced up to the problem and it is too complicated for the public.

  15. - Empty Chair - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 11:22 am:

    One Man, are you kidding? Clearly the political elite in this state suffer from short term memory loss.


  16. - Meaningless - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 11:24 am:

    Has anyone ever considered that the political gridlock in Illinois might have something to do with the “QUALITY” of the bills that are introduced in each house ???

  17. - OneMan - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 11:28 am:

    Wow, I am part of the political elite, that’s cool…

    I sit corrected. He did have a proposal, I guess I don’t recall him pushing it too much.

  18. - dang - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 11:28 am:

    This is not all on Quinn. To suggest otherwise is incorrect.

  19. - Leave a Light on George - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 11:29 am:

    Empty Chair,

    Did Gov. Q ever put this proposal in bill form? Find a sponsor?

  20. - Crime Fighter - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 11:35 am:

    Pension “reform” (reduction) was effectively enacted. This is evidenced by the fact that there are two-tiers of pensions now.

    Integrity and leadership would call for finding a way to pay back the borrowed money. Instead, our so-called leaders are trying to come-up with convoluted and sleazy schemes to evade the state’s legal and moral obligations.

    Quinn showed his colors when he committed to solving the problem this session, and doing so by stiffing the creditors via ripping-off state employees.

  21. - mokenavince - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 11:36 am:

    He was a great Lt. Governor he just is a perfect
    example of the Peter Principle.

  22. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 11:37 am:

    I’m not buying it. I hardly believe that Madigan or Cullerton have to be led by Pat Quinn to whip roll calls to pass anything. I imagine he’d sign just about anything they could pass.

    It’s the standard copout in the GA and Congress. “We need leadership or we can’t do anything,” waaahhhh.

    Governors and presidents should spend most of their time running the executive branches, not trying to coax legislators to do their jobs, like a mommy trying to get a petulant child to eat his oatmeal.

  23. - Stones - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 11:39 am:

    I agree that PQ didn’t create this mess although he certainly contributed to it.

    That being said, leading on an issue involves promoting some sort of plan and then twisting arms (if that is what it takes) to push the bill through the legislature. Squeezy the pension python just isn’t going to cut it!

    Big Jim Thompson certainly wasn’t my favorite but I have to hand it to him for taking the floor and getting the stadium bill through to keep the White Sox in town. If not for him they would be playing in Tampa today. Can you imagine PQ accomplishing something like that? I certainly can’t!

  24. - Onw of the 35 - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 11:45 am:

    Not only is PQ unable to work with legislative leaders, he also does not know how to control and manage his executive agencies. They are all over the place and often issue public statements that are at odds with his policy positions. It is more fun to cast stones from the outside (as PQ used to do) than to actually be responsible for governing.

  25. - Abe the Babe - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 11:54 am:

    Madigan and Cullerton have banded together to undercut PQ more than they ever tried to work with him. The real problem is a situational one. A recession happened at the worst budgetary time (with the pension ramp) right when the senate gridlock lifted (when Emil left) and the GOP made a political decision to sit on the sidelines in the hope to gain the majority in the next election. In that tense political environment the leaders focused like a laser to keep their majorities at all costs. And this meant undercutting the governor when necessary.

  26. - Belle - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 11:56 am:

    Not a lover of Quinn but agree with everyone who mentioned this issue was not created by him. He seems to want to change stuff without getting locked up for 17 years.
    Totally agree with chasing the car and catching the bumper theory—he is not good at playing Madigan’s game.

  27. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 11:58 am:

    –Big Jim Thompson certainly wasn’t my favorite but I have to hand it to him for taking the floor and getting the stadium bill through to keep the White Sox in town. If not for him they would be playing in Tampa today.–

    Ugh. That took years to accomplish and was one of the worst giveaways of taxpayer money to millionaires ever.

    Still stinks to this day, with Big Jim building Bacardi at the Park for Reinsdorf on the taxpayer dime — and getting nothing back for it.

    If that’s leadership, you can keep it.

    And the Sox were never leaving Chicago for that crummy dome in Tampa. The Rays have one of the best young teams in baseball and they can’t draw flies. Even notoriously cranky Sox fans put a lot more fannies in the seats every game then the Rays.

    Speaking of baseball, the Day of Reckoning has arrived for Bonds, Clemens and Sosa.

    You will not be getting into Cooperstown in your lifetimes.

  28. - Meaningless - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 12:07 pm:

    Henry Ford was once asked … “Why do you pay your workers such high wages (relative to the times)? Without hesitation, Henry replied … “so they can afford to buy my cars” !! Why can’t our political leaders that seem to be so blinded by their wealthy supporters understand this basic economic concept? Retirees that live on state pensions don’t hoard their meager pensions or invest heavily in the stock market. Most retirees put the vast majority of their monthly pension check right back into their local economies. Pension payments are a way for the state to recirculate money and stimulate a healthy economy. If COLAs are frozen for 6 years according to the Nekritz plan, what will Illinois’ economy look like in 6 years when thousands of retirees that live in Illinois will have the same money to spend in 6 years as they have today. It doesn’t take a Nobel Economist to figure that one out !!!!!

  29. - Liberty_First - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 12:08 pm:

    Dittos Crime Fighter - claiming they need to balance the pension fund by a arbitrary date when it has never been balanced is only causing problems.

  30. - Amuzing Myself - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 12:08 pm:

    The Edgar plan required steady, measured payments over decades. When Blago decided to skip those payments, the plan was no longer in place as designed. The difference between Edgar and Quinn on pensions is that Edgar got something worked out with the leaders, passed and signed into law. Quinn has demonstrated an unfortunate talent for blowing up negotiations repeatedly - whether intentionally or out of utter incompetence. He’s had his own party in control of the legislature since he assumed office. He clearly can’t do the job, and he makes it difficult for the leaders in his own party to help him. I don’t know how his governorship could be labeled as anything but a complete disaster at this point. Some of us (admitedly from the other party) had hoped for the sake of Illinois that he was the right guy to follow the Blago mess, but he’s been much worse than I ever could have imagined. Next!

  31. - Huh? - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 12:08 pm:

    Frustration with this difficult situation is understandable. But you’re tired of the fact that the person chosen to be in charge of our state can’t appease the person who has no right to be in charge of our state, but for whatever reason is? Huh? Does anyone ever stop to think that the problem with our state might be that a person other than the Governor has been unofficially given the authority to run it? How is this ok? Perhaps this person might be what’s in the way of real progress for our state. Call me crazy but that seems like our problem. Thanks for letting me express my thoughts here. Have a good day.

  32. - Cincinnatus - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 12:08 pm:

    Pat Quinn has been Governor for four full years. In that time he has been unable to build a coalition in the GA, or at least get a cadre of legislators to work with him on the pension mess. There are two ways to lead, either building the coalition or having the force of character to teach people and convince them you’re right. Perhaps there is a third way being used by the Governor, but I just don’t see it.

  33. - GA Watcher - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 12:09 pm:

    Governors and legislative leaders who got things done in the past always seemed to come to a point during a legislative session where they came to agreement on the end game. Most times, every leader came away with something he wanted. Governor Thompson was the master at this. Governor Ryan had the knack as well. Governor Edgar was better at it in his second term than in the first. Governor Quinn hasn’t proven he can be the State’s facilitator-in-chief. He doesn’t seem to have a close advisor who can help him in this regard. Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to want anyone’s advise either.

  34. - Norseman - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 12:12 pm:

    Word, the Governor is elected to “lead” the state. The citizens of Illinois expect that he/she will implement policies and programs that will move the state in a positive direction to make it a good place to live. This makes him more than an administrator. To lead, he needs to present his vision of what needs to be done and work with the General Assembly and other opinion leaders to effectuate that vision.

    I agree that the GA needs to share the blame here, but Quinn is not a disinterested administrator.

  35. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 12:16 pm:

    ===Madigan and Cullerton have banded together to undercut PQ more than they ever tried to work with him.===

    That’s just not true.

  36. - John Parnell - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 12:17 pm:

    Oswego Willy - Ask Jim Edgar for advice? The advice would be come up with a ramp up in pension payments with a small payment the first 8 years. That way I can run for two more terms before the pain kicks in!

  37. - MathCounts - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 12:28 pm:

    I take a much more pragmatic view.

    According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of FY ‘11 there were 425,483 annuitants and 618,344 active members in Illinois’ 457 public pension systems.

    That’s right: we talk alot about the big five, but when you include all of the local systems as well, there’s over a million adults with some definite skin in the game, even more when you start counting spouses.

    The last reliable polling I saw showed that Illinoisans were pretty evenly divided on whether or not to cut pensions. But its a safe bet that most of those who are directly impacted are not only staunchly opposed but consider it their top issue, while those who support pension reform probably don’t even think about it once a day, and likely don’t place it as a top issue.

    That’s why pension problems have festered not just for the past couple of years, when editorial boards began to take notice, but for the past seven decades. And those some basic political dynamics are why pension troubles aren’t just an Illinois problem, but affect nearly every state in the union.

    On top of that, most lawmakers like most Americans are fairminded people, or try to be, but there are no “fair” solutions in this case. Only “unfair,” and “more unfair.” Throw in “unfair and unworkable” too if you like. The human instinct to search for a fair solution invariably delays settling for the least unfair solution. That’s not just politics, not just Illinois…that’s people.

    That’s why its a bit myopic, in my view, to blame any particular political leader. If it were easy, it would have been fixed a long time ago, not just in Illinois but the other 48 states that have pension debts.

    Solving the pension squeeze requires action, but it will only be successful if that action is calm, rational and bipartisan. Fingerpointing never did any heavy lifting.

  38. - sal-says - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 12:33 pm:


    Effort without results equals failure.

    Shooting random ‘thoughts’ out in every direction hoping one hits is not leadership.

    quinn is just ‘undersized’ for the job of CEO of the State of Illinois.

  39. - Huggybunny - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 12:39 pm:

    Could Quinn and the GA just “focus” on one bill that is completely and totally constitutional? IMO, all the bills they’ve put together so far have been so blatantly unconstitutional that a high schooler could figure it out. We have some real brain power here in IL (in the public and private sector) who have put forth some great plans that will fix the mess, and also be constitutional. There have also been some great ideas posted on this board, maybe the GA needs more members to read Capitolfax! The key word is constitutional, anything else is a waste of time.

  40. - dupage dan - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 12:40 pm:


    How do you propose a governor create some type of coalition in the house w/Madigan around? He deigns to coalesce or not. I am not saying MJM is some kind of god but his power can’t be ignored. Quinn as gadfly is out of his league with Madigan but, c’mon, Madigan knows what needs to be done and how to do it. What’s he waitin’ for, the end of the Mayan calendar? Taxmeggedon?

  41. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 12:41 pm:

    ===How do you propose a governor create some type of coalition in the house w/Madigan around?===

    Ask Big Jim, Little Jim and George.

  42. - Kevin Highland - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 12:53 pm:

    Quinn could simply have vetoed every bill that hit his desk until pension reform was completed. That is the lever he failed to grasp. This would’ve shown he was serious about getting the problem fixed and most likely would’ve gotten him elected.

  43. - He Makes Ryan Look Like a Saint - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 12:55 pm:

    Rich….Thompson, Edgar, Ryan, Madigan, they were the reason we are in the Pension crisis we are in. How is that moving Illinois Forward?

    Quinn has lost his credibility by not keeping promises. He has brought NO new revenue to the table but has been against big revenue producing ideas (ie Tanaska, and Gambling expansion)

  44. - Hickory - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 1:00 pm:

    I can’t believe that I agree with STL.

  45. - Small Town Liberal - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 1:01 pm:

    - He has brought NO new revenue to the table -

    Except for that whole income tax increase, guess you forgot about that.

    - Ask Big Jim, Little Jim and George -

    Lots of patronage jobs, reform that looks good but kicks the can, and outright corruption? I’m sure it is easier to work with the GA when you can make offers like those.

  46. - Cincinnatus - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 1:02 pm:

    I certainly don’t agree with Madigan on anything, but I know the man is not some sort of evil person who has horns and a tail. I believe he can be worked with by a strong governor and manager who understands the issues and his own mind on where he wants to go. Like Miller says, others found a way, why didn’t Blago and why can’t Quinn? I doubt it is because Madigan has changed a bunch in the past 40 years…

  47. - RetiredStateEmployee - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 1:06 pm:

    == Call me an apologist, or whatever you’d like, but at least Quinn isn’t throwing up his hands and ignoring the problem. And it’s hard to say what any other governors would have done, because they chose not to do it. ==

    Maybe so, but Quinn has succeeded in vilifying employees and has used inaccurate (intentionally misleading) “facts” to back up his position. In the process, there is little discussion about the current problem with the state in the amount on unpaid bills. Pensions are a future liability, current liabilities are being ignored. And I believe the last budget proposed by the gov wasn’t balanced. The House reduced the appropriations to get it closer to balanced. That’s not a plan to fix the state’s financial problems, only a plan to blame those who didn’t cause the problem.

    The real problem is that those who caused the problem (elected officials) will never be held accountable and until that changes, they will continue to spend more than the state brings in because it is in their own self interest, not in the interest of the public.

  48. - Abe the Babe - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 1:07 pm:

    ===How do you propose a governor create some type of coalition in the house w/Madigan around?===

    Ask Big Jim, Little Jim and George.

    Its good to keep in mind that all these coalitions involved republican governors where a very real incentive to make a deal was present. On big tough issues its political cover if you can claim that a governor of the opposite party supports your position. No such incentive for madigan/cullerton applies here.

  49. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 1:11 pm:

    STL, y’all need to stop whining and start figuring this out.

  50. - D.P. Gumby - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 1:14 pm:

    I have never liked Quinn and do not believe he is a good governor. But I must agree w/ STL. What he has done is decent and the pension issue is one that Thompson, Edgar and Ryan facilitated the GA in messing up. They used the money that should have gone into the pension fund to fund their other programs. All of the leaders and the Gov. are trying to do the unconstitutional by ripping off the state pension recipients to cover for the past instead of biting the bullet and raising taxes on everyone in Illinois as they all benefited from the money spent by the state that didn’t go into the pension fund.

  51. - Small Town Liberal - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 1:18 pm:

    - start figuring this out -

    Hey man, no one listens to me.

  52. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 1:21 pm:

    ===Hey man, no one listens to me. ===

    Well, that’s right at the core of the problem, too.

  53. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 1:25 pm:

    I have been away and didn’t get back …

    I stand by my posts and while others are either seeing Quinn as a pawn or that the “levers” in 2012 are not the same for Quinn as they were for either of the Jims or George, the reality is that 1/3 of all this mess is now Quinn’s. That is a fact that will NOT change.

    While everyone has different interpretations of what a Governor …needs …. to do, or not do, the fact remains under any of the ideals we all have posted, Pat Quinn does seem out of his element to the point he is not doing what the People of Illinois elected him to do … be that 1/3 of State Government!

    Madigan and Cullerton are looking for a partner, who is working within the confines of what can be accomplished legislatively, and politically. When Quinn goes in front of microphones, and tries to, what Quinn feels, lead, all Quinn is doing is looking like a sideline sitter, disengaged, and not working the “levers”.

    To the “Ask Jim Edgar” responses - I get it. Edgar, payments, etc.

    I am talking about the political acumen that Jim Edgar had with Michael J. Madigan, and literally, call, with a phone, Jim Edgar, and say, “Governor, I am running into trouble with dealing with the General Assembly. You have any thoughts?” Then be quiet, take notes, and learn.

    That is it. If Quinn keeps this, “Over his head” style of NOT governing, then we all will be in huge trouble. That is also a fact.

    That is, and contiunues to be, my point. I have tried to make it as clear as possible, while Quinn has made this whole process as muddy as possible. Our only hope is if Quinn realizes these facts too.

  54. - dupage dan - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 1:27 pm:

    I’m with STL again (can’t believe I am typing this!). Big Jim, Little Jim and George made grand deals that looked good as long as you don’t look beyond the press releases. The days of those types of deals are just not possible anymore. Or desired, frankly.

  55. - dupage dan - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 1:37 pm:

    === the reality is that 1/3 of all this mess is now Quinn’s —– Our only hope is if Quinn realizes these facts too ===

    Then. We. Are. Doomed.

    At least until the next election cycle. That may be too late. The ship of state is rudderless - we need a statesman to take the sheets in hand and set the sails properly. Quinn is NOT that man. Won’t EVER be that man. Time for the statesman to step up. Madigan is that man. I don’t believe he is the devil incarnate. I do wonder if he is up to the task. Quinn is useless in this situation - WWMD? (What will Madigan do?).

  56. - reformer - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 1:41 pm:

    If Quinn had the patronage that Jim, Jim and George had, then he’d have more influence with legislators, too. He doesn’t have the jobs to hand out, so he doesn’t have the clout. He also doesn’t keep his word the way George did.

  57. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 1:47 pm:

    - dupage dan -

    We don’t have another cycle to wait. Quinn needs to forget all his Gadfly ways, learn that being a Governor means to engage the powers leading the Legislative, all the while ensuring what is done will pass muster with the Judicial.

    Pat Quinn is not wired to think that way.

    Pat Quinn needs to fix his wiring!

    When Madigan ended the 97th, Sine Die, that was a shot to the chin as Rich Miller said. I am not speaking, … for the Speaker … but I am guessing that MJM was making it quite clear to Quinn that not participating in the process as a full partner will lead to more ignoring.

    Add into the fact that Madigan and Cullerton are Veto-Proofed, I stated, and still stand by what I said months ago, that “The Big 2″ will play a game of Chicken with Quinn, not because they want to, but NEED to, to make this Governor do… something!

    Forget the GOP. Quinn needs to have an agenda, work his agenda with Cullerton and Madigan, and be true to his word so Madigan and Cullerton can trust him.

    That would be a great place to start.

  58. - dupage dan - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 1:53 pm:

    OW, I know what you are saying is true. I also know Quinn ain’t up to the task of fixing his wiring. So, now what? Waiting until the next election cycle watching M&C play their game of chicken doesn’t sound like a viable plan. But that seems like the only one unless M&C expand their vision.

    Trusting Squeezy? Oh Prunella.

  59. - Budget Watcher - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 2:08 pm:

    Why couldn’t Quinn try to unilaterally force the issue with AFSCME. He could propose that employees be offered a choice of 1. draconian pay and healthcare cuts on the order of 30% OR 2. contractual concessions on their future pensions (choosing Tier 2 benefits or less). Since employees would be offered a choice, it would pass the Constitutionality test prohibiting the GA from diminishing their pensions.

    This way the solution resides between the Governor and the employees…no GA involvement at all.

  60. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 2:12 pm:

    Squeezey may be all we have the next two years.

  61. - RNUG - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 2:15 pm:

    Budget Watcher @ 2:08 pm:

    Isn’t #1 where the contract talks are hung up right now?

    And since there is “kind of” a contract in place, how do the rules governing that play re pay?

    And where are the old Civil Service rules in all this? Don’t they usually apply where no contract exists?

  62. - dupage dan - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 2:17 pm:

    BW, presumably, that is what Quinn is doing in his “negotiaions” with AFSCME as the contract has lapsed. As a state employee, I have not heard much from that end other than that they are at an impasse. Perhaps waiting the outcome of the legislation we won’t be seeing for at least 2 more years.

  63. - Abe the Babe - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 2:22 pm:

    - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 12:16 pm:

    ===Madigan and Cullerton have banded together to undercut PQ more than they ever tried to work with him.===

    That’s just not true.

    You’re right. The leaders have been so helpful introducing and passing bills to fire his OMB director, take gubernatorial appointments away from him, forcing him to implement lump sum budgets, kicking his staff out of appropriation meetings, and holding his legislation hostage with motions to reconsider.

  64. - Budget Watcher - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 2:35 pm:

    If, in the wake of this debacle, suppose Quinn dropped the nuclear option on the union and he instantly becomes the hard-ass, bad cop governor who was put on this earth to fix the pension problem. When the union revolts, they’ll fall back on the “increase revenue” solution, which very few have any sympathy for. It puts the fight squarely between Quinn and the employees. If the GA perhaps wanted to mediate a different solution, they could be the good cops, but in the end they wouldn’t have to pass legislation that is seemingly beyond their courage level.

  65. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 2:40 pm:

    - dupage dan -

    Cullerton and Madigan are doing what they can to get Quinn engaged, and if it means playing “Chicken” or teaching Quinn to get re-wired, or talking to Jim Edgar on how to work with Madigan …

    Then you DO it.

    You do it beacuse … Quinn is not wired that way. Quinn must do more than what he is doing now, because Quinn is not even close to his 1/3, and you don’t give up 2 years to see if you are right.

  66. - Huggybunny - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 2:41 pm:

    Here we go again! SB0001

  67. - James - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 3:01 pm:

    My sense is Madigan fears he won’t get the cost shift unless coupled with the pension fix, so was willing to wait. Also weren’t there unsettled issued pertaining to City of Chicago pensions? The difference in approaches by the chambers are major. It’s just not soup yet. Since nothing happened, you have to give this round to the employee unions. And I think they are correct that new revenue must be included.

  68. - the Patriot - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 3:12 pm:

    Yea, this is Quinn’s problem. Did he get that from the Mike Madigan talking points. 1. Madigan has signed every budget but maybe 2 in 30 years, so this is his fault.

    2. Madigan chose Quinn. He chose him when he supported blago x2, he chose him when he impeached blago, he chose him by not beating him in the primary, and he chose him by not opposing him in the General.

    So the guy who created a problem and picked the governor on every level, gets to blame the governor for the problem. NO. History will write the bankruptcy of the State of IL as a Mike Madigan issue. Just like drivers licenses for illegals. It is great to have a heart, but sooner or later you have to say no or you will be bankrupt. Madigan wants to be all things to all people liberal and for that his legacy will pay the price.

  69. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 3:21 pm:

    - the Patriot -,

    With respect, but ask the ILGOP how blaming Madigan worked for them.

    Quinn is the governor, no matter who wanted him, who supported him, heck, who voted for him. Quinn needs to understand HOW to be governor, befor ehe can blame others on what THEY are not doing.

    That is the reality, or you can purchase a “Fire Madigan” t-shirt from Pat Brady.

    Your choice.

  70. - Endangered Moderate Species - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 3:54 pm:

    Willy is correct on PQ’s failure to lead us through pension reform.

    To be fair, PQ has never been an influential insider, even though he has been in statewide politics nearly as long as MM. His political success has been as the guy who works from the fringe of the political arena. That is not a great attribute for winning friends and influencing people.

    Another factor working against PQ is that MM is the master of Illinois politics. You can’t take him on head to head, you can’t take him on behind his back, you can’t take him on, period. Pat Brady led the ILGOP into a head-on battle with the master and we know how well that worked for them.

    MM is the only leader whom has been in office since the State decided to begin kicking the can. Kudos to him because he is still on the job and is having to deal with the crisis he helped to create. His style is to let his members drift where they wish and then he shepherds them back into a group and protects them.

    Thompson and Edgar are still seen by many as the prototype of governors. This is based more on their charisma (which PQ is lacking), and their ability to bring the four tops together. In retrospect, the legislative actions that took place during their terms do not seem as impressive as they did at the time they occurred. They kicked the can down the road.

    George and Rod had charisma. They also liked to spend money and surrounded themselves with questionable friends. Rod did not like the responsibility of governing. They are both paying for their shortcomings.

    I don’t have an answer to this complicated puzzle, but I believe it will require a ‘Profile in Courage’ action and MM may be the only current leader who can provide that action.

  71. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 3:55 pm:

    The Governor has assumed the role of “victimizer” to protect the Democrat majority. The D’s haven’t figured out the political calculus that will tell them which of their voting blocs they need to fear most–unions or human service providers and recipients.

    If and when they can be determined a pension reform bill will move. In the meantime they will “jawbone”, try to get republicans to share in the tragedy, and continue to let the Governor take the hits.

  72. - capncrunch - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 4:03 pm:

    All this advice for our governor makes me long for a better past where Big Jim, Little Jim, and George played nice with Mighty Mike and avoided a potential pension crisis.

  73. - dupage dan - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 4:09 pm:

    OK, so MJM “picked” Quinn. He is not the boss of me, or any other voter in this state. We didn’t have to vote for MJM’s pick. However, having done that, the citizens now have a ring side seat to a version of the chickie run in “Rebel Without a Cause”. In the modern version, MJM is “Jim”. Things don’t end well for Buzz, tho.

    OW, pretell, what odds to you give on Quinn’s next move? Frankly, I am not a betting man but I think Squeezy redux is right up there.

  74. - walkinfool - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 4:20 pm:

    the Patriot: you’ve invented a false Madigan as a “liberal” strawman.

    Not to say he shouldn’t get much of the blame this time around — but most of the fiscally conservative steps he has proposed in the past 5 years, have not been supported by either the whole House, or by the supposedly conservative GOP caucus. Cross is often at least as “liberal” as Madigan.

    These labels don’t really apply to either leader, and certainly not to the pension disputes.

    As to comments about weak-kneed legislators, more interested in avoiding political risk than problem-solving — they exist, but not in an overwhelming majority. This is a continuing reality to be managed. And some can lead in that environment better than others.

  75. - soccermom - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 4:25 pm:

    I always listen to you, STL. :)

  76. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 4:25 pm:

    ===OW, pretell, what odds to you give on Quinn’s next move? Frankly, I am not a betting man but I think Squeezy redux is right up there.===

    I may need a bit to think, but I saw your post and will answer shortly.

  77. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 4:37 pm:

    Quinn’s next move?
    He’ll continue to work “night and day” until the pension crisis is resolved.

  78. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 4:40 pm:

    I just realized the problem. All that working nights — Quinn hasn’t slept in years. No wonder he can’t get anything done.

  79. - Irish - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 4:43 pm:

    I agree with OW on this. However, I will question the point that Quinn is well intentioned.

    That being said Pat Quinn is definitely in over his head. He was from the beginning. He might have been a better Governor in easier times but he is most definitely not up for the challenge he faces in this day. I believe his main problem is that he takes things personally. Whereas the other Governors you mention JT, JE, and GR, had been in the trenches and had fought some battles and knew that politics is not something that you take personally. A legislator might make comments about you today but then be your ally in the next debate. Pat seems to take evrything to heart and reacts. He reminds me of the kid on the playground that was always threatening to tell the teacher if you didn’t include him.

    This is evident in his seeking support and approval from the IPI, the Civic Committee, and anyone else who will agree with him. He likes to be liked by people he is impressed with, ie: the leaders of CME and Sears. He wants to be liked so he goes around handing out money and favors trying to maintain a group of friends. He does not understand that you can get the same thing when people respect you for your getting down and in the trenches with your peers and fighting it out. Pat would rather sit on the sidelines and snipe.

  80. - Arthur Andersen - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 4:50 pm:

    The point made by Willy (My Man!) is that PQ is not capable of carrying his share of the responsibility, Constitutional or otherwise, for governing Illinois.
    Some of you seem to want to blame Speaker Madigan for not playing nice, while a couple others want to toss the blame for today’s pension problems on past Republican governors.
    Well, as I see it, MJM has been the same guy with PQ as with his predecessors. PQ has been the weak link in the relationship from the beginning and the Speaker is wise to keep his distance.
    As far as the past Gov’s and pensions, Thompson didn’t make that a priority because no one was making it a priority 30 years ago. Edgar, with a lot of Dem help, passed what we would call now a “pension reform” law that was affordable at the time. As I educated someone yesterday, the only major benefit change bill passed under Edgar was fully funded, 2/3 from non-State sources. Ryan fully funded pensions every year of his term. The wheels didn’t fall off the bus until the “reformers,” Blago, Filan, and Quinn got in.

  81. - railrat - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 4:57 pm:

    I’ll bet everyone on this post could point to a “floor” ally in both chambers of the last 3-4 caretakers of the mansion can any of us do this under this Gov.? point of basic problem he doesnt have the backround of how to make sausage !!

  82. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 4:59 pm:

    ===OW, pretell, what odds to you give on Quinn’s next move? Frankly, I am not a betting man but I think Squeezy redux is right up there.===

    Quinn WILL - try to get ahead on the Pension Issue to the point of his own detriment, listening to others who are telling the Governor, “You need to try and show Madigan and Cullerton you are serious!”, while doing nothing in the trenches to pass Cullerton’s Bill with acceptable, and mutually agreed upon, amendments to get the Bill passed with the least amount of political damage. Quinn will be forced to threaten a “Veto”, with no intention of vetoing.

    What Quinn SHOULD do - Meet with Cullerton first, set an agenda by using the Pension Bill as leverage to find compromise on other issues. Then, with Cullerton, explain to Madigan where they (Cullerton and Quinn) stand and ASK what they can do to help the Speaker get what they all want in a Pension Bill and again leverage that with mutual items they all agree could and should be done in exchange for a passed bill.

    Let Cullerton and Madigan thank Quinn, but declare a “Victory for Illinois” because in reality, the Pension Bill will need a couple GOP votes at some point.

    And …that will never happen.

    Best Bet - a “Squeezy” license plate Bill, with 2 dollars going toward debt relief that stalls in Rules in both chambers. You think I am kidding? Even I couldn’t come up with Squeezy as Dopey as I am, so I can see a license plate … or something worse fairly easily.

  83. - Old and In the Way - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 5:01 pm:

    Budget Watcher
    “Why couldn’t Quinn try to unilaterally force the issue with AFSCME. He could propose that employees be offered a choice of 1. draconian pay and healthcare cuts on the order of 30% OR 2. contractual concessions on their future pensions (choosing Tier 2 benefits or less). Since employees would be offered a choice, it would pass the Constitutionality test prohibiting the GA from diminishing their pensions.”

    A coercive choice is not a choice my friend. As for your hard ass tactics you have no clue what you would bring down upon your head. Obviously you have never negotiated a library fine let alone a contract with a union. PQ has certainly made some mistakes along the way and has not helped the situation but your suggestion would simply make things much worse. My advice would be for you to leave the contract negotiations to the arbitrators and the legal issues to the lawyers.

  84. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 5:02 pm:

    - AA -

    ===The point made by Willy (My Man!) is that PQ is not capable of carrying his share of the responsibility, Constitutional or otherwise, for governing Illinois.
    Some of you seem to want to blame Speaker Madigan for not playing nice, while a couple others want to toss the blame for today’s pension problems on past Republican governors.
    Well, as I see it, MJM has been the same guy with PQ as with his predecessors. PQ has been the weak link in the relationship from the beginning and the Speaker is wise to keep his distance.===

    Thanks for making my thoughts all the more clear.

    Agree, 100% and thanks!

  85. - Old and In the Way - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 5:07 pm:

    Willy you are right on target. The sad thing is that he has some leverage but is neither flexible, as far a gambling bills, or politically savvy enough to do as you suggest. I am afraid we are all going to cringe at his next fiasco. I suspect it will be every bit as inappropriate as Sqeezy and the Conmmission Hail Mary!

  86. - Charlie Wheeler - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 5:12 pm:

    “MM is the only leader whom has been in office since the State decided to begin kicking the can.”

    Points of information:

    In 1946, public employee pension systems in Illinois were funded at 29.9 percent. Source: 1969 Report of the Illinois Public Employees Pension Laws Commission.

    Michael J. Madigan was born on April 19, 1942. Source: 2011-2012 Illinois Blue Book.

  87. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 5:21 pm:

    - Charlie Wheeler -,

    lol Point taken!

  88. - Old and In the Way - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 5:29 pm:

    In fact the collective funding level of the pension systems in 1970 (the year of the Illinois Constitution Convention) was about the same as it is today! Hence the Pension Clause.

    Given the level of finding today and in 1970 you have to ak the question, “Is this as big of an emergency as the bond raters and the right wing have made it out to be? Certainly there is a problem but perhaps the solution is not just to diminish the pension benefits but look at long range funding and planning.

  89. - Budget Watcher - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 5:36 pm:

    -’A coercive choice is not a choice my friend.’

    Unlike the plan that has already passed in the Senate giving employees the option of healthcare in retirement and a lesser pension OR the current robust 3% compounded pension and no healthcare. Right, that’s not coercive.

  90. - Old and In the Way - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 5:51 pm:

    I believe that it is. The key is if the health care benefit is covered in the same way the COLA is. The GA, and Cullerton are gambling that it is not and that is why they passed a bill last spring eliminating free health care for all retirees. The Maag lawsuit, first hearing is Jan 17, will likely result in either upholding the cut or finding it unconstitutional. I believe that this is really what Cullerton and MJM are waiting on. If it is upheld then the trade strategy will move forward pretty quickly.

    My guess? It’s back to the drawing board.

  91. - Budget Watcher - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 6:28 pm:

    To be clear, I wasn’t suggesting Quinn take this approach with AFSCME, but rather just speculating on his options. Legislating the problem is seemingly beyond his abilities to orchestrate, so I was simply wondering about an executive branch solution that parallels the Senate approach. I have to chuckle, however, when you say that “a coercive choice is not a choice.” Of course it is. That’s what special interest groups do all the time, unions included. It was just a year ago that the Chicago Board of Trade and Sears “we’re thinking about leaving” tax relief passed. Coercion at it’s basest level.

  92. - DuPage Dave - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 7:05 pm:

    This is kind of late to chime in but I can’t comment at work. Thompson, Edgar and Ryan all enjoyed far better general economic conditions when they were in the governor’s chair. Also, the federal government was much more generous toward states in those years. Money rolled in more or less every year.

    Quinn has held the job during the Great Recession, and through no fault of his own has had extremely low economic growth and declining (or very slowly rising) state revenues, combined with a stingier federal government.

    And all three of those governors, plus Blagojevich, contributed to the pension situation now before us. Quinn has not mucked it up himself in the last 4 years, yet everybody’s all over him for not being the one to solve it.

    I’m not saying Quinn is a great leader, but what would any of the last few governors done differently? There are no deals to make here, no gravy to spread around. Everything is getting cut. Nobody likes to spread the pain.

    What would they do? Thompson would give a fine speech with his patented insincerity, Edgar would do a great job looking grim and above it all, while Ryan would wear the pain on his face then buy everybody a drink.

  93. - wishbone - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 7:05 pm:

    It will ultimately come down to current state employees vs retirees. If the retirement benefits of both are truly constitutionally sacrosanct then current wages and benefits will have to be renegotiated. This would probably lead to strikes, and possibly the hiring of replacement workers.
    I still think that across the board budget cuts (say 4% or $1.2 billion per year), supplemented by a modest 10 cent a gallon gasoline tax increase ($0.5 billion per year) and taxes on recreational marijuana ($0.5 billion per year based on reasonable Colorado and Washington estimates) is the way to go. After paying off the vendor backlog all of the $2.2 billion annually would go toward pension funding. No one gets hurt too badly and pension solvency is only 40 years away.

  94. - Old and In the Way - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 7:29 pm:

    Budget Watcher

    Fair enough. Coercive choice is a legal reference incidentally. Since the choice or trade is being used as an inducement or consideration in a contractual issue, which is the relationship between the pensioners and the state, I was merely pointing out that it would legally be suspect. This as opposed to CME and Sears. I would characterize their tactics as extortionist.

  95. - Anon. - Wednesday, Jan 9, 13 @ 8:36 pm:

    For all the whining about Edgar kicking the can down the road, before he got the ramp enacted, no one took any responsibility for looking down the road to see what would happen if we continued to underfund the pensions, and he got action taken before there was a crisis. More importantly, just looking at the ramp gave anyone who wanted to skip or reduce a payment a fairly easy look at the consequences. The crisis we are facing now is the same crisis you get when you keep running the credit card balance up — not putting money in the fund to earn the 8% (which is not unrealistic over the long term we’re talking about here) is not as bad as the 18% or more on a credit card, but the principles are the same. Once you get behind on compounding interest, catching up again is painful and the pain increases exponentially the further behind you get. The ramp was a course to catch up with a lot less pain than we’re seeing now.

  96. - dupage dan - Thursday, Jan 10, 13 @ 9:52 am:

    The point re history of the pension funding levels should be looked at more closely. I don’t have the facts myself so would very much like to see some. Comparing funding levels to that of 1942 may be well and good - however, do we have the same levels of folks about to retire (baby boomers, etc) as we did then? Life spans are much longer now than they were then. Younger ages at retirement coupled with greater longevity can bolix the whole thing up. I saw a recent piece on SSA which showed that the retirement age when it was put into place is basically the same as it is now - 67 years. However, the numbers of folk actually reaching that age in the 1930s is much less than it is now.

    If we factor appropriate variables into the equation, does the current funding level make sense or are we doomed? Is this over-hyped, hyped or realistic fear?

  97. - HEY JACK, - Thursday, Jan 10, 13 @ 2:04 pm:

    The Governor is a nice guy, but lacks the ability and capability at this time to become a great negotiator. In three branches of government all must build upon interpersonal relationships and trust! The word compromise is appropriate and all should approach issues open minded, conduct research on the issue and then process thoughts that lead to a positive outcome for IL and it’s Residents.

  98. - Just The Way It Is One - Thursday, Jan 10, 13 @ 3:26 pm:

    Did you ever consider that maybe the opposite is true, and it is Madigan and Cullerton who are the ones who are perhaps trying to wield MORE than the 1/3 of the Constitution than THEY are allowed to?

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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