The Illinois General Assembly today gathers for the 100th session, a real milestone in Illinois’ history. The august chambers gave rise to the political careers of Abraham Lincoln, Adlai Stevenson, Paul Simon and Barack Obama.
But all those brilliant political minds failed to create the firm base of power achieved by a little Irish guy from the shadow of Midway Airport, Michael J. Madigan. His reign as Illinois House speaker began in 1983, and there is every indication that it will continue as newly elected state lawmakers gather today for the 100th time and pick a leader.
On Sunday we shared that local Democrats have twice refused to discuss the speaker vote, with only Rep. Jerry Costello II saying he needed to see the candidates before deciding how to vote. State representatives Dan Beiser, Katie Stuart, LaToya Greenwood and Jay Hoffman wouldn’t even return a call or e-mail on the subject, and they were asked twice.
Maybe they are too busy to be bothered with answering to constituents. They certainly have been busy crafting another unfunded mandate, telling Illinois schools to get their drinking fountains tested for lead. No money to do it, just the demand because they are just fizzing with great ideas for the betterment of Illinois.
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Budgets? Well, there was a little excitement after 18 months without a state budget because the Illinois Senate was working on a proposal through the weekend. It died Monday.
So here we sit on the edge of the 100th session. Is there hope for change, or just dismay that these political animals are unable to change their spots and stripes.