* OK, you’re about to see something that you’ve probably never seen here before. I’m gonna defend Rep. Bill Mitchell and Reboot Illinois.
The Quad City Times reported that state Rep. Bill Mitchell, R-Forsyth, said he was having lunch with a friend when Cohen’s ruling [striking down Quinn’s veto of legislative salaries[ was issued:
“His first thought was, ‘When do we get paid?’”
That was Mitchell’s first thought? When does he get paid?
I called Springfield to speak with Rep. Mitchell about his first thoughts of getting paid, but he wasn’t available.
“His assistant is not in today,” said a lady on the phone. “She’s out. You try his district office?”
I called his district office. No answer. I left a message, then called again and again and again. Still nothing.
* The missing context from the original story…
Mitchell is a full-time lawmaker, meaning he had to dig into savings to make ends meet during the impasse.
“It was a bad three months,” he said.
Unless you’re independently wealthy, if your entire income is based on one job and you aren’t getting paid for that job, then no paychecks can cause real hardships. I see no reason to pick on the guy for being honest.
* Let’s move on to a story about Reboot Illinois’ new legislative contact app…
Here’s how Reboot describes itself on its website, rebootillinois.com. “Reboot Illinois aims to encourage citizens to retake ownership of our governments. Through non-partisan digital and social media, Reboot Illinois intends to engage citizens giving them the information and tools they need to act on improving the jobs climate, schools, taxes and state debt.”
One of those things is a new feature allowing people to contact their public officials via email on certain issues. This includes their local lawmakers, legislative leaders like Madigan and Cullerton, and the governor. More importantly, it also allows a person to find out just who represents them in the General Assembly simply by typing their home address into the site.
So far, so good. The trickier part comes from the suggested messages to send public officials. The site has a series of issues listed covering such things as raising the minimum wage or pension reform or the progressive income tax along with a sample letter that can be sent to lawmakers. For example, you can send a message that you do not want the state to raise the minimum wage. Or you can send a message saying that the 3 percent compounded COLAs for pension benefits must end, along with raising the retirement age for workers.
Now, if you want to say you like the idea of a higher minimum wage or that the state shouldn’t change COLAs for retirees, well, you’ll have to compose your own thoughts on that. The site doesn’t provide that option. Also, it doesn’t provide the email addresses of the public officials, so if you want to send your own thoughts, you’ll have to add a step.
Actually, you can compose your own message and it’s pretty easy. You just select all, delete what Reboot wrote and write whatever you want. The group will then send your message for you. I tried it today by sending a test message to Rep. Poe’s office and it worked fine.
Now, maybe you aren’t literate enough to write your own message, but if that’s the case, then why bother at all? Or maybe you’re not computer literate enough to know you can delete Reboot’s message and replace it with your own. So, what the heck are you doing on the Web then?
However, Reboot might wanna just add a simple message saying you can write whatever you want, just to be clear.
Click here and see for yourself.
* I tried to get in the spirit of things by finding a recent state-related Tribune editorial I could praise, but had no luck.