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National Editorial & Columnists

A year later, grateful Davis playing another charity game

Bernard Schoenburg
Bernard Schoenburg

On the anniversary of a gunman opening fire on Republicans practicing for a bipartisan congressional charity baseball game, this year’s game was played Thursday, and U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, wore an Illinois State University jersey.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana was seriously wounded, and three others also were shot, including a U.S. Capitol Police officer. Another Capitol Police officer was injured.

Davis had been up to bat at the practice when the 66-year-old gunman from Belleville – who was killed by return fire from the two police officers – started shooting on June 14, 2017, at the practice in Alexandria, Virginia.

“This year’s game will be especially memorable as we celebrate the remarkable recovery of Steve Scalise and the others who were shot and remember how grateful we are to be here and carry on this tradition of bipartisanship and charity,” Davis said before the game.

The New York Times did a story this week about the shooting. Of Davis, it said, events of the day “live with him in ways he sometimes cannot understand. There is an image frozen in his mind: of a woman walking her dogs, caught in the middle of the gunfire, her eyes fixed on him in an expression he interprets as a plea for help.

“At some point after the shooting, he woke up in the middle of the night, sweating profusely.

“‘I thought to myself, is that the way sleep’s going to be all the time?’ Mr. Davis said.”

The article also said Davis wonders about alternative scenarios.

“What if the shooter stood on the first-base side? What if he hadn’t hit the fence with the first shot? Those are thoughts that go through my mind all the time,” he told the newspaper.

Davis’ 13th Congressional District is home to several colleges and universities, and Davis, who plays catcher for his congressional team, has worn a jersey representing a different school each year he has played. This year marks his sixth game.

Riding

Gov. Bruce Rauner has made it clear he enjoys riding his motorcycle, and the state’s bicentennial is going to give him another reason for a long trek.

“The governor’s going to lead a motorcycle ride down Route 66 on Aug. 26 and make some stops along the way, which should be a great thing,” state Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield, said on The Sunday Spin on WGN radio in Chicago.

According to Illinois200.com – the official website of the Governor’s Office of Illinois Bicentennial – the ride will feature stops at Route 66 roadside attractions. Cities mentioned include Joliet, Pontiac and Bloomington-Normal, and the event will culminate at the Illinois Bicentennial Plaza in Springfield. The pedestrian walkway near the Governor’s Mansion is to be located between Fifth and Sixth streets just north of Illinois Realtors headquarters in Springfield – and that group is developing the plaza with help of the city of Springfield and private partners.

“I like the idea of highlighting 66 as part of the bicentennial because it means so much to the state,” Butler told me.

He noted that Aug. 26 –the date that appears on the state seal – will be the 200th anniversary of the ratification of the state’s first constitution in Kaskaskia.

But Butler won’t be riding along the full route this August.

“I am not a motorcycle person,” he said. “I don’t think I could keep up on my bicycle, so I’ll meet them here in Springfield.”

On his dime

Gov. Rauner has said repeatedly that he would be traveling to promote Illinois on his own dime, and he followed through on that last week when he went to Washington, D.C., to appear with U.S. Transportation Secretary ELAINE CHAO and other officials, as programs nationally were feted.

Rauner flew on a commercial flight at his own expense, spokeswoman RACHEL BOLD said.

Rauner spoke at the event about a $132 million federal grant that is part of a $474 million public-private project to help alleviate a rail choke point on Chicago’s South Side.

“Secretary Elaine Chao and the Trump administration have driven the result to untangle that bottleneck and drive great efficiency for the rail system of America,” Rauner said at the event. “Thank you, Madame Secretary, and the Trump administration.”

No blocking

Rauner doesn’t take to Twitter as much as President DONALD TRUMP does. And there’s something else he doesn’t do, at least as shown in a recent check: He doesn’t block people from his government social media accounts.

U.S. District Judge NAOMI REICE BUCHWALD in New York ruled in May that Trump is violating the First Amendment when he blocks critics on Twitter because of their political views.

The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University in New York brought the case.

As a follow-up, I used the Freedom of Information Act to see if Rauner blocks any accounts. According to MATTHEW SWIFT, associate general counsel and FOIA officer for the governor’s office, no accounts were blocked as of June 8.

Dream job

ADRIANNA PITRELLI is the new Statehouse reporter for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin — and she’s doing exactly what she planned.

“Being a statehouse reporter was my dream job,” she said.

Pitrelli, 22, graduated in May from Franklin College, in Franklin, Indiana. She majored in multimedia journalism and political science. During college, she worked at the Indiana Capitol for a news service, thestatehousefile.com, that features articles by Franklin journalism students.

In Springfield, she replaces ANDY MALONEY, who represented the Law Bulletin here for five years and is still with the publication, but at its home base in Chicago.

Pitrelli is commuting to Springfield from Decatur. She is engaged to DERON MOLEN, a news anchor and reporter for WAND-TV in Decatur. They met at Franklin College, where he graduated two years before Pitrelli.

And his proposal in February was on live TV — and is still on YouTube. An April 2020 wedding is planned.

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