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*** UPDATED x1 *** Legislators are returning to do their jobs. They should let reporters do theirs

Friday, Jan 8, 2021

* The House has decreed that it will not allow reporters on the floor of the 40,000 square foot BOS Center because of public health and security concerns. When I’ve objected, I’ve been asked why I wanted to be on the floor if I was going to have to remain at least six feet away from everyone else anyway.

But adding a relative handful of reporters to a huge hall like that shouldn’t significantly increase viral load. House press credentials are not easily available, so the security concerns are unfounded and even insulting. And folks who are wearing masks are allowed to be closer together than six feet, as should be abundantly clear from these photos taken during the May special session…


* And, again, look at all the empty space behind the members in that 40,000 square foot hall…


* I’ve been tested for COVID-19 and won’t be venturing forth until the results come back and would be happy to provide testing documentation. I never go anywhere in public without wearing a mask, I don’t go to indoor restaurants and bars and nobody comes into my house without wearing a mask.

I’m more than willing to take what will hopefully be a relatively moderate risk to do my job, and most other reporters I know agree. We’re essential workers who do necessary work. And the next several days could be the most momentous in Illinois government since I do not know when.

Let us in.

*** UPDATE *** Earlier today…


- Posted by Rich Miller        

54 Comments
  1. - Inverted Pyramid - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 5:25 am:

    “Freedom of conscience, of education, of speech, of assembly are among the very fundamentals of democracy and all of them would be nullified should freedom of the press ever be successfully challenged.” – FDR


  2. - Mr. Smith - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 6:45 am:

    Rich - does this prohibition prevent you from being inside the hall at all ( including the seats ) or just the floor?


  3. - Mr. Smith - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 6:59 am:

    My question was just for my own clarification. There is no question that official proceedings must be covered by the press. This has never been more true than now.

    While I can understand that people are jumpy after the failed insurrection on Wednesday, the people need to see the normal functioning of government occurring,


  4. - essentially working - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 7:22 am:

    The experts have spoken, you are going to have to trust the science here.


  5. - Just Me 2 - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 7:39 am:

    You’re experiencing what it feels like to be a member of the House Democratic Caucus. Just do as your told, Daddy Madigan knows what is best for you.


  6. - Cheryl44 - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 7:50 am:

    Oh yeah, we need reporters everywhere politicians gather, even if they’re 6 feet apart.


  7. - Downstate Dem - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 7:58 am:

    We do need to have reporters when the House is in session. The debates and votes need to be available live. I would not like to see the day when any of this is done behind closed doors even if the transcripts are available at a later time. We cannot all get live streaming.


  8. - Roy G Bluth - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 8:18 am:

    This is similar to the school situation, just get setup with a live stream of the chamber and watch at home.


  9. - Essential State Employee - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 8:18 am:

    ==The experts have spoken, you are going to have to trust the science here.==

    The Science Says “Let Reporters Do their Job.”


  10. - Essential State Employee - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 8:20 am:

    “Let Rich in or you can’t get apples and Saputo’s take out until long after everyone is vaccinated.”


  11. - FormerParatrooper - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 8:20 am:

    Covid is not an excuse to keep reporters or others from observing the legislative process. The venue is large enough to provide social distancing. Non reporters within reason can also observe, there are more than enough seats and space to accommodate this.


  12. - Simply Sayin' - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 8:23 am:

    When reporters’ First Amendment rights are trampled upon, suddenly the essentiality of the First Amendment becomes important. (And yes, it’s ridiculous that they aren’t allowing reporters reasonable access…it is vitally important for reporters to have similar access as they do in the Capitol).


  13. - Stu - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 9:03 am:

    Does the Speaker have a exhaust-vented mask?? *facepalm*


  14. - JS Mill - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 9:06 am:

    Yeah, this is petty MJM digging in his heals for no good reason.

    @stu- that appears to be an N-95 mask he is wearing.


  15. - Nilwood - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 9:10 am:

    I agree with JS Mill, something else going on here. There are so few political reporters left in Illinois, social distancing can’t be a problem.


  16. - Frumpy White Guy - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 9:13 am:

    How hard would it be to get a court order allowing the press access?


  17. - illinoyed - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 9:16 am:

    They’re not scared of the virus they’re scared of transparency and anyone who wants to be speaker should start by speaking up and saying let the press in.


  18. - @misterjayem - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 9:18 am:

    “When I’ve objected, I’ve been asked why I wanted to be on the floor if I was going to have to remain at least six feet away from everyone else anyway.”

    Did you tell them that, according to scientists, 60 feet apart is like ten-times farther than 6 feet?

    – MrJM


  19. - Touchdownrejus - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 9:23 am:

    Those pictures of Madigan show he is aging in dog years


  20. - Collinsville Kevin - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 9:28 am:

    Let the sunshine in. Although it looks like it doesn’t in that building.


  21. - SilentMajority - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 9:31 am:

    Did you really expect them to allow “witnesses” to the back room wheeling and dealing that has and will always be discussed to “get a deal made.” Even before the pandemic, ask yourself how many backroom meetings were held to “reform” opinions and toe the company line. What will be interesting is how many of the proclaimed “No, I won’t vote for him” change their mind. I hope their constituents are watching and taking notes even when reporters cannot….


  22. - Pizza Man - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 9:31 am:

    A democracy reigns when there is freedom of the press, media, and communications among its government leaders.

    It is vital for the citizenry of IL to have the press/media staff, while using protective measures, be on the same level as the people’s representatives.


  23. - SilentMajority - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 9:32 am:

    Damm autospell t o w


  24. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 9:37 am:

    === What will be interesting is how many of the proclaimed “No, I won’t vote for him” change their mind. I hope their constituents are watching and taking notes even when reporters cannot….===

    (Sigh)

    I’m pretty sure it’ll be noticed if Madigan is re-elected.

    I’d be kinda of a big deal.

    And yeah, I see what Durkin says about the parliamentarian, and Rich clarifying it when I questioned, but my take is as it’s been;

    In the end, if shady parliamentary actions and maneuvering are used to install Madigan, and Jesse White is in there caught in the middle, how is that going to help any Dem going forward? After all that’s gone on, everywhere, deciding to be seen taking the gavel in that manner should be a bridge too far… with a new map… and the obvious that Madigan did it… the fallout will be extreme.


  25. - Back to the Future - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 9:37 am:

    Another sad day in Illinois history.


  26. - Pizza Man - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 9:38 am:

    Apparently, the Speaker thinks the media/press staff may knock off more votes from his Dem caucus as he seeks to grasp onto the single thread which is holding his position before the strong winds.


  27. - Techie - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 9:43 am:

    This is unacceptable. Depending on size of the location and other factors, there could be reasonable limits on the number of reporters permitted inside. But there is no excuse for a blanket refusal to allow any journalists to cover the proceedings of the lawmakers conducting the people’s business.


  28. - OneMan - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 9:43 am:

    == This is similar to the school situation, just get setup with a live stream of the chamber and watch at home. ==

    Makes it a bit harder to ask questions from home.


  29. - Anon221 - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 9:51 am:

    If a new Speaker is elected and Madigan ousted, that policy might change quickly. I know that is of little comfort to Rich and the other reporters that should be allowed in anyway. There is no risk, except what appears to be only political for some legislators, to allowing reporters into the BOS.


  30. - SilentMajority - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 9:55 am:

    My question/statement Mr Oswego Willy was to point out the obvious. How many times in all of the past admins (Rauber, Quinn, Blago, Ryan, etc.) have statements been made publicly and the changed with push came to shove and glossed over like they never occurred by all, (yes even the media) and we’ve had to take it and put up with more. When is enough enough?


  31. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 9:58 am:

    === How many times in all of the past admins (Rauber, Quinn, Blago, Ryan, etc.) have statements been made publicly and the changed with push came to shove and glossed over like they never occurred by all===

    So you’re saying Madigan winning another term will be glossed over? That’s your thought? No one will notice?

    I doubt that.


  32. - SilentMajority - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 10:04 am:

    Merely stating that as in the past, those who talk big often slink away after being “reformed” to tow the line. My hope is that the seventeen will be able to stand fast and not buckle and others will take note. But as we all know, the game changes in the blink of an eye with promises made that may or may not be fulfilled….


  33. - essentially working - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 10:05 am:

    Is anyone shocked that the pandemic may be used to stifle the press or otherwise restrict our rights? Hide from the people? For those just realizing what is happening here, welcome aboard. You have a lot to catch up on…


  34. - Suburbanon - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 10:05 am:

    A similar issue, that hasn’t been discussed as much, is the prohibition against live, in person, testimony before committees. Oral testimony on bills has been a crucial part of the legislative process for a long time. The Q&A of witnesses and advocates by Committee members helps to clarify intent and details of legislation. How do you question written testimony? You can’t. Even remote access via Zoom, etc. is better than nothing. People do it all the time in Chicago and other local government bodies. It is not technically difficult. It is a choice by leadership to exclude testimony. Just as it is a choice by leadership to limit access by the press.


  35. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 10:08 am:

    === seventeen===

    Its 19.

    They all, all 19 put their name to ONE letter.

    ===… the game changes in the blink of an eye with promises made that may or may not be fulfilled….===

    Writing that letter, they burned their ships, there’s no going back. Your hand wringing is predicated on this idea no one is watching.

    You think no one will notice if 5-7 (that’s what will need to flip) decide to support Madigan?

    Sincerely? Really? No one will notice this?


  36. - Petard - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 10:09 am:

    The Speaker is merely following the science; this is for your own protection. Remember, the Speaker is smarter than you.


  37. - Wonk - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 10:14 am:

    Here. Here. Not quite the same without the banned punctuation, but the sentiment is there.

    Anyone working with the ACLU or other pro bono attorneys to seek injunctive relief? Seems like the type of thing you could get heard on an emergency basis even in these times. Has anyone banged on AG Raoul and the PAC to chime in? Seems like a nice press opportunity for him, even if not in their core mandate.


  38. - Wonk - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 10:16 am:

    And it should be hear. Hear. No coffee yet this morning. Ugh.


  39. - essentially working - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 10:16 am:

    “The Speaker is merely following the science..” - This is probably the same team of experts who assembled the hay rack ride guidance for Halloween. Without question, a committee of objective and unbiased intellectual giants in their field.


  40. - O-Man - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 10:20 am:

    No one should be surprised by this. The next question is: what if they make good and do not let the press in to report? Then what? Excoriate them in the news, I hope. But will they care? Will enough of the public care?


  41. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 10:27 am:

    ===This is similar to the school situation===

    That’s like comparing legislators to state workers. If you can’t see the difference, you don’t belong here.


  42. - Amalia - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 10:43 am:

    Ridiculous. This is not Russia. Let the press do their job. Thanks for doing that, Rich et al.


  43. - SilentMajority - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 11:04 am:

    Once again Willy, you’re missing the point. Yes, everyone will notice if any of the 19(corrected) change their vote. The question becomes what will be done about it since they will have two years to smooth the waters….


  44. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 11:09 am:

    === you’re missing the point.===

    lol

    === What will be interesting is how many of the proclaimed “No, I won’t vote for him” change their mind. I hope their constituents are watching and taking notes even when reporters cannot….===

    And…

    === those who talk big often slink away after being “reformed” to tow the line. My hope is that the seventeen will be able to stand fast and not buckle and others will take note. But as we all know, the game changes in the blink of an eye with promises made that may or may not be fulfilled….===

    You’re point is… “no one will notice”

    It’ll get noticed. Your worry to it is silly on it’s face.

    === The question becomes what will be done about it since they will have two years to smooth the waters….===

    LOL

    Thsts not even the same as not having press coverage in the immediate. You’re way off any initial thought you think you were making.

    You should stop. You’re not helping yourself.


  45. - Good grief - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 12:09 pm:

    Thats good news right now we only have to sort threw the politicians lies and not the face news 🙄


  46. - DuPage Saint - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 12:16 pm:

    I read somewhere that Democracy Dies in the Darkness
    But we are talking about Madigan here and I suppose he will give you whatever light he wants to give you


  47. - Stu - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 12:28 pm:

    @JSMill…any mask with an exhale vent (N-95 or layered cloth) is not recommended by the CDC since the vent does not filter the exhaled breath.


  48. - Unconventionalwisdom - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 12:51 pm:

    Further evidence of a one party state (Democratic, in this case)). If it were more balanced each party would be more afraid of these type of defacto censorship.


  49. - Uncle Vanya - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 12:52 pm:

    The decision forbid media on the floor is rooted in racism, sexism and misogyny.


  50. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 12:52 pm:

    == authoritarian===

    No. Authoritarian is denying press access.


  51. - Arock - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 12:58 pm:

    So these essential workers that have actually been doing their jobs everyday can not do what they are constitutional protected to do while the legislators that have not been doing their jobs(at least not much out in the open) and not answering questions on their own corruption keep them at bay. No shenanigans here so just move along.


  52. - Anon2 - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 12:59 pm:

    “First they came…”

    Welcome to the club.


  53. - JoanP - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 3:14 pm:

    @SilentMajority -

    You actually had it right the first time. It’s “toe the line”. The phrase comes from track-and-field meets where the participants put their toes on the starting line.


  54. - don the legend - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 4:03 pm:

    ==“First they came…”==

    Just curious, what have they come for and took from you?


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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