We all know that I could use this space every week to rail against our state and federal government.
After I wrote about the erosion of freedoms in the wake of the Department of Justice secretly obtaining phone records of Associated Press reporters three weeks ago, I thought I had rid myself of enough venom to last for at least a couple of months.
I was wrong.
Our state government’s ineptitude combined with the inability of Illinois voters to demand change has me angered ... again.
So, I feel I must use this space to vent. I hope you’ll be a captive Saturday morning audience.
A little more than a week ago now, state lawmakers bolted Springfield without doing anything to solve our public-pension crisis. Skipped town. Headed home. That $100 billion unfunded liability and an unsustainable pension system? It can wait ... again.
More failed leadership in Springfield. That’s what I tweeted last Friday night. How much longer will Illinois voters keep electing incompetent leaders? Also a question I posed on Twitter that night.
A week later, the situation is still infuriating. There’s so much blame to go around, it’s hard to focus anger on any particular aspect of it.
You’d like to think that a political party that controls the governor’s mansion, the Senate and the House could craft meaningful reform and get it passed.
Instead, we have weak leadership in the governor’s mansion. He goes by the name Pat Quinn. He’s a Democrat from Chicago. A stronger leader would have taken control of the situation and, perhaps, crafted his own pension reform legislation and worked to get it passed.
Granted, that’s made more difficult when the governor isn’t the most powerful man in that state. That distinction falls to the House speaker. His name is Michael Madigan, and he, too, is a Democrat from Chicago. Madigan at least developed the best pension-reform legislation we’ve seen to date, and he got it passed in his chamber of the General Assembly.
John Cullerton is the Senate president. He is – you guessed it – a Democrat from Chicago. See a trend?
Because of a battle of egos between Madigan and Cullerton, nothing got done. Each chamber passed its own version of reform. The Senate then rejected the House reform. The House never took up the Senate reform.
Cullerton can’t be perceived as being inferior to Madigan, and vice versa. The egos of these two have gotten in the way of doing what’s best for Illinois taxpayers.
Instead of working together to find a solution, Madigan and Cullerton battle each other for supremacy. It’s a fight that costs us $17 million per day.
And when the governor wanted to meet this week with the House speaker and Senate president to discuss pension reform, the speaker couldn’t be bothered with even phoning into the meeting.
This is the triumvirate that runs this state. What a sad state of affairs.
Voters keep electing the same lawmakers, and the same lawmakers keep electing the same chamber leadership. And nothing gets done, well, except for pet-lemon laws.
Maybe Illinois needs to fall off the map for constituents to take notice. Perhaps Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Kentucky and Indiana can split Illinois into five sections and annex them.
It sounds better than living in a bankrupt state with no future, which is where we are headed because of failed leadership in Springfield.
• Jason Schaumburg is editor of the Northwest Herald. He is a Verizon Wireless customer, which means the federal government has been secretly looking at his phone records. Reach him at 815-459-4122 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @Schaumy.