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What’s Madigan’s agenda?

Tuesday, Nov 25, 2014

* The Sun-Times ran a big, splashy headline the other day about how Speaker Madigan’s captains were passing petitions for Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Madigan was neutral four years ago, but Emanuel is now the incumbent, so of course Madigan is with hizzoner. That’s not exactly news.

But the paper also delved into the backgrounds of some of Madigan’s people. You wanna know how the machine is oiled? This is one way

◆ [Patrick J. Ward], a key figure in the scandal that led to Alex Clifford getting a $718,000 severance package and leaving his post as Metra’s chief executive. Clifford accused Metra board members of forcing him out after he rebuffed Madigan about giving Ward a raise and refused to hire another Madigan loyalist. Ward left Metra and got a state job as a labor administrator after Madigan recommended him to Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration. Ward is paid $69,996 a year. As a retired city of Chicago employee, he also gets a $57,591-a-year city pension.

◆ Hugo Chavez and William E. Nambo, who were hired as “staff assistants” for the Illinois Department of Transportation under Quinn — a job class the state’s executive inspector general determined was designed to skirt anti-patronage hiring rules. Chavez resigned in May after a reprimand for an “unauthorized” absence from work in 2012 and for “insubordination” for bringing his dog to work last year against his boss’ orders, records show. Nambo gave $600 to Madigan’s ward organization four months after being hired at IDOT in April 2011. He now works in Republican Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka’s office.

◆ August A. Olivo, who has given $8,100 to the speaker’s ward organization and is the younger brother of former 13th Ward Ald. Frank Olivo. August Olivo, 52, is retired from the Cook County Highway Department and gets a pension of $81,204 a year. Since 2011, he’s been working for the CTA, where he makes $80,194 a year.

The 13th Ward has always been thus.

* In other MJM news, Crain’s published some recent quotes in an attempt to discern a Madigan agenda

* From the story

Michael Madigan is confronting the drawbacks of power.

The Illinois House speaker could spend some of his vast political capital on an ambitious Democratic agenda to tackle the state’s tough problems, with or without the cooperation of incoming Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner. Or he could minimize risks to his overwhelming majority through partisan standoffs and sidestepping meaningful votes.

Guessing Madigan’s true agenda is a popular drinking game in Springfield, but over the past year he has offered a wide range of proposals, including a surtax on millionaires, a hike in the minimum wage and making the 2011 income tax increase permanent to avoid severe budget cuts.

The question now is the extent to which Madigan will use his clout to address the state’s huge budget problems and other issues, persuading vulnerable members to take tough votes, as he did when the General Assembly passed pension reform and marriage equality last year.

You can bet the house (and the Senate) that his agenda will include taking care of his captains, as the Sun-Times story illustrates. At his very core, he’s a 13th Warder. It has always been thus.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - CircularFiringSquad - Tuesday, Nov 25, 14 @ 11:05 am:

    Always “smart” for a publication to task a Washington based reporter to write an IL/Chicago political story….Very, very smart…And then quote such brainiacs as Jack Franks and Jim Nowlan….this is a real side splitter
    Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Nov 25, 14 @ 11:13 am:

    ===his agenda will include taking care of his captains.===

    I might re-write that to read: his agenda is taking care of his captains.

    Whatever else he accomplishes along the way, it seems to me that his sole focus is taking care of the people who take care of him.

  3. - Tom - Tuesday, Nov 25, 14 @ 11:13 am:

    “It has always been thus.” BINGO.

  4. - Carhart Representative - Tuesday, Nov 25, 14 @ 11:19 am:

    Does Chicago have any reporters of its own? Carol Marin I guess would count. Otherwise, we mostly have stenographers.

  5. - Belle - Tuesday, Nov 25, 14 @ 11:21 am:

    It makes you wonder how the State might function without patronage? Assuming the day happens, what happens post-MJM?

  6. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Nov 25, 14 @ 11:22 am:

    MJM = Paulie Cicero

    He takes care of his own, he’s the policeman for Precinct Captains.

  7. - Snucka - Tuesday, Nov 25, 14 @ 11:26 am:

    The Madigan Agenda:

    1) Win election as Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives

  8. - Quizzical - Tuesday, Nov 25, 14 @ 11:26 am:

    If Lisa wants to run for Governor 3 years from now, her father’s agenda will be to make Rauner look bad.

    If she doesn’t want to run, his agenda may be to cooperate and get things done. With Rahm as a useful intermediary, and none of the bad blood that affected his relationships with the last two Democratic Governors, this could be a relatively peaceful time in State government.

  9. - Hacksaw Jim - Tuesday, Nov 25, 14 @ 11:29 am:

    “Drawing a clear path to a new term…were Ald. Marty Quinn, 13th…Quinn comes from Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s home ward”

    … Thus shall it ever be.

  10. - Arsenal - Tuesday, Nov 25, 14 @ 11:32 am:

    “If Lisa wants to run for Governor 3 years from now, her father’s agenda will be to make Rauner look bad.”

    Not necessarily; we know for a fact- because she said it- that her running for Governor is predicated on him stepping down as Speaker, and he wouldn’t do that last time.

  11. - Snucka - Tuesday, Nov 25, 14 @ 11:33 am:

    ==If Lisa wants to run for Governor 3 years from now, her father’s agenda will be to make Rauner look bad.==

    Wrong. His agenda is, and always will be, to retain his power as Speaker. I am sure that he loves his daughter, but he has shown time and again that he puts his own interests far ahead of her political ambitions.

  12. - CircularFiringSquad - Tuesday, Nov 25, 14 @ 11:46 am:

    Lisa’s best ally would be a Speaker who can deliver on what is needed, thinks about 4 weeks ahead and keeps a nice watch on all the malcontents. But let’s review the central questions — who really wants to be governor? As we all know Mitt is really running for president
    he will let SLip and Sue govern!

  13. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Nov 25, 14 @ 11:57 am:

    ===As we all know Mitt is really running for president he will let SLip and Sue govern!===

    Oh joy.

    I’m trying to block all that out of my reality.


  14. - Sir Reel - Tuesday, Nov 25, 14 @ 12:01 pm:

    While, it is what it is, that’s the way its always been done, it’s expected, etc., etc., it’s still discouraging that this August guy is 52, collects a $81,000 pension from Chicago DOT (I doubt he’s a civil engineer) and now has a $80,000 job with CTA. The product of Madigan’s power.

  15. - Norseman - Tuesday, Nov 25, 14 @ 12:06 pm:

    Madigan’s agenda:

    1. APLM separation.
    2. Help allies/captains
    3. Addressing caucus priorities/constraining those priorities - meaning that as a leader he needs to respond to what his members need and want, but he needs to balance those needs and wants within the context of current environment, i.e. budget, current social issues.
    4. Maintain House majority.
    5. Maintain Party dominance.
    6. Mess with folks who mess with him.

  16. - Wordslinger - Tuesday, Nov 25, 14 @ 12:13 pm:

    Protect his varied and diverse majority.

    Thats why you saw him pushing through concealed carry and marriage equality in the same session.

  17. - Original Rambler - Tuesday, Nov 25, 14 @ 12:17 pm:

    It will be interesting to see what Rauner does with Ward. Word is he does a good job for the State, but here comes a new administration…

  18. - Grandson of Man - Tuesday, Nov 25, 14 @ 12:37 pm:

    I hope Madigan pushes the millionaire surcharge. The voters are very clearly behind it. What a waste it would be, to go through all the trouble in getting it on the ballot, then just abandoning it.

  19. - Joe Blow - Tuesday, Nov 25, 14 @ 12:48 pm:

    The speakers only agenda is to maintain control of the House and draw the map in 2021.

  20. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Nov 25, 14 @ 1:05 pm:

    His agenda is to remain in power at all costs.

  21. - Very Fed Up - Tuesday, Nov 25, 14 @ 1:09 pm:

    “August Olivo, 52, is retired from the Cook County Highway Department and gets a pension of $81,204 a year. ”

    Retired at 52 with an 80K+ pension !

  22. - Snucka - Tuesday, Nov 25, 14 @ 1:11 pm:


  23. - Quizzical - Tuesday, Nov 25, 14 @ 1:18 pm:

    I seem to remember it being a pretty big part of his agenda when Lisa wanted to be AG.

  24. - Very Fed Up - Tuesday, Nov 25, 14 @ 1:20 pm:

    With an $81,000 pension at age 52 assuming 3% compounding interest if he lives till age of 82 will have collected near 4 million dollars.

    If the golden parachutes are not stopped count on the “temporary” tax increases coming in like clockwork every few years.

  25. - Snucka - Tuesday, Nov 25, 14 @ 1:21 pm:

    It serves his interests to have Lisa as AG. He knows that he’d have to step down as Speaker if she were to run for Governor… so, that’s not happening (yet). If he’s ever ready to retire, Lisa can run for Governor and I am sure he would support her. That is, however, a very unlikely scenario.

  26. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, Nov 25, 14 @ 1:26 pm:

    If you want to know what Madigan’s agenda is, I would turn to Steve Brown, not soothsayers.

  27. - Joe Blow - Tuesday, Nov 25, 14 @ 1:31 pm:

    If Lisa wants to move up why wouldn’t she run against Kirk in 2016? I’m sure there would be no conflict with the speaker.

  28. - Loop Lady - Tuesday, Nov 25, 14 @ 1:33 pm:

    The scenario I talked about before the election has come to pass: Madigan, Emanuel and Rauner are running the State. It doesnt matter if they’re self proclaimed Dems or GOP. These men will look out for their own interests and those of their well heeled friends by corporatizing State government, further driving its finances into the abyss, while the financial sector makes a killing.
    Screw the middle class,unions, and State employees.

    Don’t feel too bad though, the election of plutocrat Governors connected to Wall street occurred in lots of other true blue States as well.

    I’m putting my money on Madigan to retain his King of the Hill status…power corrupts and absolute power…well, you know…

  29. - island mon - Tuesday, Nov 25, 14 @ 1:49 pm:

    The only Illinois politician’s book I ever want to read if he writes one. Master of the trade has always been 4 weeks ahead of everybody else. Never forget where he came from a Southside neighborhood guy, who takes care of his peeps. Ole School. Thanksgiving Blessings to all.

  30. - island mon - Tuesday, Nov 25, 14 @ 1:50 pm:

    The only Illinois politician’s book I ever want to read if he writes one. Master of the trade has always been 4 weeks ahead of everybody else. Never forgot where he came from a Southside neighborhood guy, who takes care of his peeps. Ole School. Thanksgiving Blessings to all.

  31. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, Nov 25, 14 @ 2:03 pm:

    Joe Blow -

    She is on the Bill Clinton Plan:

    AG > Governor > President

  32. - ArchPundit - Tuesday, Nov 25, 14 @ 2:23 pm:

    ===If Lisa wants to run for Governor 3 years from now, her father’s agenda will be to make Rauner look bad.

    So Lisa wanted to run during 8 years of Edgar and 12 of Blagojevich/Quinn? Or was there something else where he made them look bad possibly?

  33. - Quizzical - Tuesday, Nov 25, 14 @ 2:58 pm:

    Archpundit — I’d argue that Edgar came through his term looking pretty good. Blago needed no help in looking bad, and the Speaker always seemed ready to point it out. Madigan did help Quinn (and his own caucus) with issues like gay marriage and the pension bill, which I think he might not have done if Lisa had been eager to run in this last cycle.

  34. - In The No - Tuesday, Nov 25, 14 @ 3:06 pm:

    Ward was a great hire for CMS - low key, hard working and responsive to the agencies. Rauner would do very well to keep him, not as a favor to MJM, but because he’s an excellent employee.

  35. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, Nov 25, 14 @ 4:10 pm:

    If MJM wanted the AG to be Gov, the thing to do would be to help solve the state’s fiscal problems.

    The public will be unhappy, and Lisa won’t have to deal with those problems if she wins.

  36. - Formerly Known As... - Tuesday, Nov 25, 14 @ 5:17 pm:

    Speaker Madigan’s first priority is to do what is best for Mike Madigan.

  37. - Wally2Times - Tuesday, Nov 25, 14 @ 5:55 pm:

    How many of these individuals will one day be earning 2 separate State pensions? IMRF and SERS? Yes, Yes… That’s correct it is only because of the State skipping pension payments that the State Pension system is bankrupt. It has absolutely nothing to do with double dipping. Nothing to see here. Carry on

  38. - howard - Tuesday, Nov 25, 14 @ 6:28 pm:

    You realize that Michael Madigan gets all of his strategies from reading I would bet most of you thought he came up with his strategies himself.

  39. - RNUG - Tuesday, Nov 25, 14 @ 9:35 pm:

    - howard - Tuesday, Nov 25, 14 @ 6:28 pm:

    Madigan doesn’t get his strategies here … but it might help shape some of his opinions.

  40. - ? - Tuesday, Nov 25, 14 @ 10:01 pm:

    Yeah he reads it on his cell phone!

  41. - Anon - Tuesday, Nov 25, 14 @ 10:36 pm:

    Curious to see what happens to Ward as well. He’s actually one of the only political placements that actually works; works hard and does a good job is my understanding…unlike the many others that make it hard to go to work without feeling demoralized.

  42. - steve schnorf - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 1:17 am:

    Wally, when you add all the double-dippers together and assess the impact on our pension systems, it would be like p_____g in the ocean and expecting that to raise the tides; isn’t even measurable

  43. - low level - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 7:36 am:

    Steve- thank you for being the voice of reason, as always. I was part of a FB debate the other day where the person said his “taxes were raised so Poshard could get his $200K pension”. I tried telling him, no, not even close; but accepting that, ok, hypothetically, make Poshard pay it back. Now what?

    He didn’t have an answer for that.

    This type of thing proves the old saying that a little knowledge is dangerous.

  44. - liandro - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 10:09 am:

    - steve schnorf - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 1:17 am:

    -it would be like p_____g in the ocean and expecting that to raise the tides; isn’t even measurable-

    Except it’s happening in our house, not in the ocean. Combine that with the fact that it is VERY measurable (and public record). Ever watched a steady drip fill up a bucket?

    More to the point: why are you defending this practice–something not remotely accessible to average citizens? Do you not see the resentment towards this kind of activity–and the problem that causes for all public employees? Do you not recognize how that, in and of itself, makes it worth addressing this problem? Heck, the inherent unfairness of it should be enough! Why should taxpayers pay someone to be retired, AND pay them to work…at the same time? Why would you defend such a policy?

  45. - steve schnorf - Wednesday, Nov 26, 14 @ 11:28 am:

    liandro, I didn’t defend the practice. I made the simple point that if we solved that particular problem, it would be meaningless in terms of solving our pension problem. That’s a simple concept right? People who don’t understand suggest simple but meaningless answers. That’s not hard to understand is it?

    Now, liandro, go back to my post and point out where I defend the practice you find so abhorrent. See, it isn’t there.

    Our pension problem isn’t how much our pension systems cost: that’s really quite modest. The problem is debt (should I have capitalized to show people emphasis) and debt service on money already obligated but never funded. You may want to print this and keep it for future reference.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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