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A win for Quinn, for now

Chalk up at least a temporary victory for Gov. Pat Quinn in his move to eliminate the salaries of lawmakers because they haven’t approved pension reform.

A Cook County judge last week declined to rush headlong into the dispute between Quinn and the top legislative leaders, House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton. Cullerton and Madigan filed a lawsuit asking that Quinn’s veto of money for lawmaker salaries be declared unconstitutional. The suit also sought a preliminary injunction to have lawmakers paid immediately while the case is being resolved.

Alas, the judge didn’t grant the preliminary injunction. Instead, he set Sept. 18 as the date for oral arguments. Barring a vote by the General Assembly to override Quinn’s veto of their salaries, they’ll go at least one more month without a paycheck.

For Quinn, it was a victory, but the war isn’t over. Obviously, the lawsuit itself has yet to be resolved. There’s also the question of how willing lawmakers will be to vote for a pension reform plan, assuming a conference committee produces one, given Quinn’s action on their pay.

It may be a short-lived victory.

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Quinn’s Democratic opponent for governor, former White House chief of staff Bill Daley, criticized Quinn for showing up at the hearing.

“He refuses to show up at the pension committee, but he’ll show up for the TV cameras,” Daley said in a statement. “It’s another sideshow, another waste of time and money.”

Daley was referring to a meeting of the pension reform conference committee in Springfield in which the committee invited Quinn to appear and lay out his conditions for a pension reform bill. Quinn blew off the committee’s request, even though he was in his Capitol office just a floor below where the committee was meeting.

Daley is both correct and a little incorrect. There’s no arguing that Quinn knew the court hearing would get intense media coverage, so why not just drop by for a look-see. If someone wants to ask a few questions, so much the better.

However, Daley is a little mistaken about the cameras. If Quinn was only after TV cameras, he could have found plenty of them at the pension committee hearing, too, along with a whole bunch of reporters. The problem was the committee likely would have asked some pointed questions about what Quinn specifically wanted from pension reform, and the media would ask more pointed questions based on what he said.

So maybe that wasn’t worth the TV time.

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As they like to say, sometimes things just get curiouser and curiouser.

Madigan spoke to reporters in Chicago last week. Among the things he discussed was his tenure as House speaker and his discussions about that with his daughter, Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

“Lisa and I had spoken about that on several occasions, and she knew very well that I did not plan to retire,” the Chicago Tribune quoted Madigan as saying. “She knew what my position was.”

So why care? Well, remember what Lisa Madigan said when she announced in early July that she would not run for governor against Quinn?

“I feel strongly that the state would not be well served by having a governor and speaker of the House from the same family and have never planned to run for governor if that would be the case,” she said. “With Speaker Madigan planning to continue in the office, I will not run for governor.”

Yet, all through the spring and part of the summer, there was rampant speculation that Lisa Madigan might challenge Quinn for the governorship. She did nothing to squelch the speculation, even though, it appears, her father made it clear he wasn’t retiring, which meant, in her words, she wouldn’t be running for governor.

Curious.

Doug Finke of the State Capitol Bureau can be reached at 788-1527 or doug.finke@sj-r.com.

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