* Remember the story from Tuesday about how Rep. Dave Severin (R-Benton) took an excused absence rather than vote on a bill to save some nursing jobs at the Department of Corrections?
Well, Williamson County Democratic Party Chairman Cody Moake had this to say…
The reality of the situation is that Severin was elected by his constituents, not House leadership. If he cannot in good faith, complete the job he was elected to do, he should step down,” Moake said Tuesday. “While I did not vote for Mr. Severin, I expect from him, and everyone in the 117th should expect from him, to represent the best interests of the district on every issue that comes to a vote. We need someone to represent our area, home of some of the highest unemployed counties in the State. If he is not willing to stand up for these nurses, I want someone in there that will at least take a stance, not run away. If Mr. Severin is too much of a coward to stand up for what’s right, I urge him to step down and I challenge the Republican parties in the 117th district to appoint a representative that will keep our best interests in mind, and take those tough votes.
* Severin’s response…
In my short time in Springfield, I have seen the political games being played by Speaker Madigan nearly every day.
What was omitted from the previous reporting is the fact that prior to the bill being called, the administration informed me that they would rescind the corrections nurses’ layoffs and go back to the negotiating table, thanks to the urging of a number of my colleagues and me.
Knowing this fact ahead of time gave me the peace of mind I needed to know that the bill would not be necessary and was in fact yet another attempt by Speaker Madigan to drive a wedge between myself and my constituents for political purposes. Negotiations are continuing as we speak and I encourage both sides to stay at the table until a deal is reached.
* He then issued a follow-up statement through an unnamed spokesman…
“Williamson County Democrats are still trying to adjust to life without a Madigan enabler in office so I can understand their frustration. With that said, their calls for my resignation are bizarre, at best.”
* From The Southern…
Severin said he thought that leaving town made a louder statement than voting ‘present’ and he also said he surmised more people would ask him why he did it, giving him a chance to explain his predicament. Severin also said that when he left town, he had a private commitment from an aide to Rauner’s administration that the Illinois Department of Corrections intended to rescind its layoff notice in an effort to continue talks with the Illinois Nurses Association, which it has since done. Severin said he wasn’t allowed to say that at the time, because it had not been communicated to the INA. That decision was made, according to Severin, “thanks to the urging of a number of my colleagues and me.”
“Knowing that fact ahead of time gave me the peace of mind I needed to know that the bill would not be necessary and was in fact yet another attempt by Speaker Madigan to drive a wedge between myself and my constituents for political purposes.” Of note, during the campaign, Severin called a press conference at which he signed a blown up “Fire Madigan” pledge.
The INA, despite the rescinding of the layoff notice, has expressed its desire that the legislation proceed regardless, because there’s no certainty about what the administration will do with regards to privatizing the positions in the future, which was the plan IDOC announced in late March. The bill would require IDOC to maintain nursing staff levels as they were in January 2016. Severin said he’s not ready to say what he will do if Rauner vetoes the bill and its called for an override vote in the House. Newspaper ads purchased by the INA in recent weeks have asked Severin and other lawmakers to reconsider their positions. […]
And despite the criticism suggesting that he left town because he lacked the backbone to buck his own party’s leadership, Severin maintains that’s just not the case. “When I walked off the floor I walked off for my people,” he said.
I have been around this business a very long time and I have never seen anyone say they took a walk on a bill “for my people.”