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Tribune comes full circle

Wednesday, Jul 31, 2013

* On March 8th, 2007, the Chicago Tribune editorial board compared Gov. Rod Blagojevich to a Venezuelan dictator

This constant quest for new hills to climb conveys the governor’s eagerness to solve problems and be noticed. Unfortunately, at a moment when he wanted to sell his state on some controversial concepts, he delivered a divisive populist rant (”middle-class families,” good–”corporations,” bad, bad, bad) that only confirms the perception of him in some quarters as a lightweight. Illinois citizens might have been swayed Wednesday by the bring-us-together touch of Barack Obama.

Instead they got Hugo Chavez.

That was a way over the top comparison, even for the Tribune. But what the paper was attempting to do was ratchet down the governor’s rhetoric, so it was at least somewhat understandable in hindsight.

* On October 28, 2007, the Chicago Tribune editorial board suggested that Blagojevich be removed from office

Should Rod Blagojevich remain as governor of Illinois?

He shows no inclination to resign from office. And while the state constitution does allow for his impeachment by the Illinois House and trial by the Senate, it’s doubtful legislators could bring themselves to such drastic action. So the realistic question becomes this: Given the multiple ineptitudes of Rod Blagojevich — his reckless financial stewardship, his dictatorial antics, his penchant for creating political enemies — should citizens create a new way to terminate a chief executive who won’t, or can’t, do his job? [Emphasis added.]

* But the Tribune has long forgotten its diatribes against Blagojevich. The proof is today’s editorial, which reads like it could’ve been drafted by Rod himself

Turns out, to get lawmakers to sense an emergency, you have to suspend … their … pay. Quinn pulled out his red veto pen and suddenly Madigan and Cullerton sprang to action, demanding an injunction to force the state to pay the 177 members of the General Assembly. Payday is Thursday. Pony up!

Madigan’s and Cullerton’s lawsuit against Quinn and Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka claims Quinn violated the separation of powers in the Illinois Constitution by stripping lawmakers of their salaries. Quinn, remember, made his move to compel action on pension reform, the single biggest issue strangling this state’s finances.

Oh, how the Constitution becomes the beacon of justice for our state’s Democratic leaders when it serves their interests. On other matters outlined in the Constitution — fair redistricting (Article 4, Section 3), bill introductions, passage and single subject (Article 4, Sections 7 and 8), special legislation (Article 4, Section 13), state finances (Article 8, Sections 1 and 2) and primary funding of education (Article 10, Section 1) — the General Assembly often takes a more relaxed approach toward constitutional obligations. Yes, when it comes to the document’s language on balanced budgets, education funding, compact and contiguous districts — well, they try their best.

How dishonest can they possibly get? They skirt the real constitutional question of the Quinn veto by insinuating that other legislative actions are unconstitutional, even though every single one of those actions have been upheld by the courts, some of them repeatedly.

The editorial board appears to desire a banana republic. So, who’s Hugo Chavez now?

…Adding… From a commenter

I love the line “Oh, how the Constitution becomes a beacon of justice…when it serves their interests.”

But notably absent in the Trib’s listing of items in the Illinois Constitution is the pension protection clause. Probably just an oversight.

Like I said, they appear to desire a banana republic.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

30 Comments
  1. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 9:47 am:

    Well, you can’t have “Good Old Fashioned” Banana Republic and not have the mainstream media assist the “Person on the Balcony in sunglasses screaming into microphones into the crowded plaza”…right?

    Maybe ignoring the Rod Blagojevich past is a way the Trib can sell papers to masses, and not have to worry about actual Journalistic Integrity or … even paying a researcher as to what the paper has said about things in the past?

    “Atttention! Attention! Our Glorious Leader is going to speak about how He is going to Continue Democracy!!”

    Yikes!


  2. - Bill White - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 9:48 am:

    I see that Article 13, Section 5 is omitted from the Tribune’s list of constitutional obligations.


  3. - Decaf Coffee Party - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 9:48 am:

    I love the line “Oh, how the Constitution becomes a beacon of justice…when it serves their interests.”
    But notably absent in the Trib’s listing of items in the Illinois Constitution is the pension protection clause. Probably just an oversight.


  4. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 9:52 am:

    Does Ty Fahner write the editorials?


  5. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 9:53 am:

    ===I see that Article 13, Section 5 is omitted from the Tribune’s list of constitutional obligations.===

    “Mis-Ter Bill White, the ‘Glorious Revolution’ knows the Constitution, and that Article …it is… as we say … not what the ‘Glorious Leader’ thinks the People need to fret about. We are pleased that the ‘Free Press’ agrees with the ‘Glorious Leader’…”

    Hope that helps, - Bill White -….


  6. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 10:00 am:

    –How dishonest can they possibly get? They skirt the real constitutional question of the Quinn veto by insinuating that other legislative actions are unconstitutional, even though every single one of those actions have been upheld by the courts, some of them repeatedly.–

    Now, be fair. They could be ignorant.

    But dishonesty or ignorance are the only options.

    Big Brain Bruce used to work under The Dome back in the day. He would sit on press row in the House, in the Tribbie’s coveted, designated first seat, solemnly reading a door-stopper Lincoln biography. Hilariously pretentious.

    Then, he’d go back to the office and take phone messages for Paul Lis, lol.


  7. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 10:10 am:

    –Maybe ignoring the Rod Blagojevich past is a way the Trib can sell papers to masses,–

    It’s an even better way to forget how they were playing ball with Blago to dump their liability for Wrigley Field on the taxpayers.


  8. - foster brooks - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 10:11 am:

    Quit reading the trib years ago , life’s too short to read editorials from miserable cantankerous 1%.


  9. - I'm Strapped - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 10:12 am:

    “Journalistic Integrity’-That’s a good one!


  10. - ZC - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 10:14 am:

    Though I will say, this full-scale fight about the pension guarantees, as compared to the comparatively lax attitude legislators _and_ courts (to be fair) have taken with funding public education - Article 10 Section 1 - does speak to who has more underlying power and influence in this state, doesn’t it? It’s never just what “the Constitution says,” state or federal. Courts and legislators alike pay more attention to the words when they concern retirees and unions, instead of poor kids in underfunded districts.


  11. - Loop Lady - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 10:31 am:

    I wish I could cancel my subscription, but I need the ads and coupons…;)


  12. - Wensicia - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 10:39 am:

    The only decent Tribune commentary on the lawsuit is from Eric Zorn. He gets it. I think the editorial board does, too, they just won’t admit it.


  13. - Bill White - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 10:39 am:

    @ZC

    Cutting the pension benefits of public teachers is not the best way to persuade people to make a career of teaching poor kids in underfunded districts.


  14. - Joan P. - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 10:58 am:

    @ Wensicia -

    Zorn is one of the few columnists I respect, even when I disagree with him. He has the rare quality of realizing that there are shades of gray in the world. And his knees don’t jerk.


  15. - John Galt - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 11:12 am:

    Quick question RE: the lawsuit and Quinn’s line item veto. Can’t the legislature just override the veto and get their pay that way? If that’s the case, then the lawsuit was filed because either:

    1) They don’t have the votes in their own legislature to vote themselves their pay, or

    2) They have the votes, but just don’t like the optics of flexing their legislative muscle to pay themselves first but not flexing their legislative muscle to fix the pension crisis.

    Or am I out to lunch on the override option?


  16. - lake county democrat - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 11:17 am:

    So the state legislature gives primacy to education funding because our laughable state judicial system (and it is laughed at - see Sandra Day O’Connor’s recent critism for example) says they do? If the Illinois Supreme Court said the sun rises in the west, the sun still rises in the east.

    That said, the Trib’s remark is logically inconsistent, and is completely inconsistent with their editorials about pension reform (which transform an old “some scholars think it may be constitutional” editorial into “we’re confident it’s constitutional and don’t have to talk about it anymore”).


  17. - Truth teller - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 11:19 am:

    The criticism of Quinn is simply trying to pass the buck. The paycheck-withholding move was foretold when Quinn warned the legislature there would be consequences for non-action if they didn’t pass pension reform.

    Put simply, the legislators are now pinned down and need to pass something — anything — because the general public now understands who has been holding up the process. And that includes both GOP and Dem legislators.


  18. - Truth teller - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 11:27 am:

    Sorry, my last post was posted to the wrong story. Regarding the Trib, newspaper editorials have very little influence on what the general public thinks nowadays, simply because most people read the internet version and don’t flip through the pages to read stories they otherwise would not read.

    In other words, very few people know what the Trib editorial thinks about this issue.


  19. - Fred - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 11:32 am:

    There are 11 members of the Tribune editorial board. Two of them (Chapman and Page,) also write their own columns and a third (Stanis) is their cartoonist. That leaves 8 members to write editorials full time. They produce about 14 editorials a week between them — less than two each, every seven days. I'’m not certain, but I’m willing to bet all are pulling in six digit salaries — probably well over 200k for Dold.

    You would think having a cushy, low-work/high-pay job would inspire a sense of humility. You would be wrong. Just ask an actual working reporter.


  20. - Ghost - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 11:35 am:

    I think we are all missing the upside…. I love bannana’s, great woody allen flick…..

    This is Tribune logic. In Tribune land you only follow the laws you like, and you should skirt the ones that stand in your way. viva la tribmerica


  21. - Huh? - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 11:44 am:

    “Oh, how the Constitution becomes a beacon of justice…when it serves their interests.”

    I learned long ago while doing highway design that the policies and design standards are to be used to your advantage whenever and where ever possible.


  22. - AFSCME Steward - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 11:47 am:

    John Galt

    Of course they have the votes to override. However, this is a serious constitutional issue that requires a court ruling. If PQ is allowed to get away with this, any governor that doesn’t like the actions of the legislature could veto the funding for their salaries. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with the pension issues being examined, the constitutional protections for the 3 branches of government are the fabric of our democracy. They are all supposed to be equal. If the governor refuses to let the legislators be paid, what’s next ? Maybe the GA fails to appropriate money for the executive branch. Or if the courts rule in a way they don’t like, just defund them also.

    But ignoring the constitutional issue, I think the GA would rather let the courts handle it. PQ has gotten a large amount of support from voters & has risen in the polls because of this action.
    A legislator facing a primary challenge might fear voting to pay himself when the opinion of most voters is extreme disappointment in the GA as a whole.

    “Quick question RE: the lawsuit and Quinn’s line item veto. Can’t the legislature just override the veto and get their pay that way? If that’s the case, then the lawsuit was filed because either:

    1) They don’t have the votes in their own legislature to vote themselves their pay, or

    2) They have the votes, but just don’t like the optics of flexing their legislative muscle to pay themselves first but not flexing their legislative muscle to fix the pension crisis.

    Or am I out to lunch on the override option?”


  23. - ZC - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 1:09 pm:

    Bill White, I’m not sure about that one. I’m not opposed to teacher unions in the slightest but to be frank, there’s no 1-1 equivalency between funding teacher pensions and funding educational opportunities for kids - especially when that cash is going to people no longer even in the classroom. I DO think teacher unions are an essential political force to demand adequate school funding , but from an institutional perspective they’re always going to have the -primary- purpose of seeing that cash go to themselves - not always to the kids’ best benefit.

    You need them , but you also need a countervailing force to keep an eye on them.


  24. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 1:37 pm:

    The reason the GA won’t vote to override the Governor’s line item veto is the same reason they won’t fix the pension problem and it is because of a lack of political courage.

    BTW, wasn’t it the GA that gave the Governor the authority to line item veto? Isn’t the Govornor just excercising the authority they gave him?


  25. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 1:41 pm:

    ===The reason the GA won’t vote to override the Governor’s line item veto is the same reason they won’t fix the pension problem and it is because of a lack of political courage.===

    Please read the filing as to why the action is being taken and why the veto was not overridden as an action, then get back to us.


  26. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 1:45 pm:

    –BTW, wasn’t it the GA that gave the Governor the authority to line item veto?–

    No. Care to guess again?


  27. - dupage dan - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 1:47 pm:

    Frankly, I’ve had a bellyfull of the Tribunes bellyfeel.


  28. - JC - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 2:58 pm:

    Have to admit I read the Trib (only free stuff) online just to know what the hysteria-du-jour is and who they’re scolding today. Cancelled my subscription—won’t pay peoples’ salaries when they’re hellbent on making sure public servant’s incomes are cut. After all, if you’re going to get less, why put $ in the pockets of those who made damn sure it did? But that issue aside, has anyone noticed the misspellings, grammatical errors and outright bizarre tenor of their reports? It’s junk quality. Why pay for that?


  29. - Belle - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 4:45 pm:

    I dropped my subscription to The Trib about 5 years ago when their primary interest seemed to be Sports. There is nothing interesting going on at that paper…no more books, lacking International information, not much in politics, and even the Travel Section is dull. It’s too bad since it used to be kind of great and like Loop Lady, I miss the coupons.


  30. - Precinct Captain - Wednesday, Jul 31, 13 @ 5:56 pm:

    ==Like I said, they appear to desire a banana republic.==

    That’s the best tradition of Robert McCormick, whacko aristocrat extraordinaire.

    @Fred

    Dold the Dolt appears often on Joel Weisman’s Chicago Tonight: The Week in Review and you can tell it wouldn’t hurt to have the man bumped back to the overnight crime report or even American Politics 101 to learn a thing or ten.

    ==BTW, wasn’t it the GA that gave the Governor the authority to line item veto? Isn’t the Govornor just excercising the authority they gave him?==

    http://ilga.gov/commission/lrb/conent.htm


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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