Status quo in Springfield is hard to change
SPRINGFIELD – Let’s have a show of hands. How many of you were surprised at the court ruling that will keep the term-limit and remap amendments from appearing on the fall ballot?
A Cook County judge shot down both amendments, saying they didn’t meet the narrow criteria for getting a proposed amendment before voters by petition rather than an act of the General Assembly.
The ruling will be appealed to the state Supreme Court and could always be overturned, but it probably isn’t advisable to make any wagers on that happening.
Nor would be it advisable to put any wagers on the General Assembly suddenly deciding to give voters a say on term limits or changing the way political maps are drawn in Illinois.
Some people take comfort in the status quo.
Some Democratic lawmakers may have to engage in some fancy footwork over the next few weeks, at least those on the General Assembly’s Legislative Audit Commission.
The commission, composed of 12 lawmakers representing both parties in the House and Senate, will meet again in July to continue taking testimony about the colossally failed Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, the $55 million anti-violence program launched by Gov. Pat Quinn in 2010 when he was running for re-election.
The Audit Commission reviews audits from Auditor General William Holland, and they’ve got a doozy to review in this case. Holland’s audit found the NRI did just about everything wrong that it possibly could.
Last week, a subcommittee of the Audit Commission voted on issuing subpoenas to people compelling them to testify before the commission about the flawed program. A repeated theme from the two Democrats on the panel was that they didn’t want this to become political, and they didn’t want it dragging out all summer.
The thing is, the botched program is already political. Republicans know they’ve got an issue on their hands that could dog Quinn all the way through to the election. And they’ll do their best to see that it happens.
Democrats obviously want the thing to go away, but they also can’t be pictured as trying to stifle the investigation or otherwise engage in some type of cover-up. It means they’re going to have to walk a very thin line as this moves forward.
'Quinnocchio' vs. the chicken
This is getting out of control fast.
As you may know, Quinn has been dogged at events for a while by Bruce Rauner's campaign, which has sent a guy dressed in a Pinocchio costume to hang around Quinn’s appearances.
Pinocchio, you recall from childhood, had this unfortunate problem with his nose growing every time he told a lie. The live-action Pinocchio dogging Quinn is called "Quinnocchio" by the Rauner campaign because of the lies the campaign says Quinn has told. The big one is that the temporary income tax increase shouldn’t be temporary, but permanent.
Quinn, meanwhile, has accused Rauner of ducking questions about exactly how he plans to balance the state budget while letting the temporary income tax hike expire. That would be ducking questions, as in chickening out.
Consequently, the Quinn campaign engaged its own person to dress in a chicken costume and hang out outside a Rauner appearance in suburban Chicago last week. According to news reports, the Rauner campaign quickly dispatched Quinnocchio and its own chicken to counter the Quinn chicken.
Rauner is critical of a program, mostly federally funded, that had a state airplane fly prairie chickens from Kansas to Illinois as part of a repopulation effort. Hence, the anti-Quinn chicken to offset the anti-Rauner chicken.
The good news in all of this is the next state economic reports should show a distinct uptick in whatever area covers costume rentals and a drop in unemployment numbers for people willing to wear silly costumes in public.