Rauner didn’t win. Quinn lost, says Madigan. He’s right.


The conventional wisdom on Speaker Madigan is that he doesn’t really care about anything other than his own political power.

I think that is a fair estimation.

Which means the guy can count votes.

In an interview with a local ABC affiliate in Springfield Madigan discusses numbers. The dude can count.

He points out that the Democratic Party plan was to put a minimum wage referendum on the ballot last November to pull votes for Quinn.

650,000 more people voted for the referendum than voted for Quinn.

I pointed out a similar fact. 10,000 Democratic voters voted for Democratic Senator Dick Durbin but left the governor’s line blank.

In large part these were union members and progressives who could not bring themselves to vote for a Democrat who sold them out on pensions.

I even wrote about it in this article for In These Times.

And I caught some hell for simply saying something that was true.

We can learn something from Speaker Madigan when it comes to counting votes.

But the real lesson to be learned is that if you want those votes you have to stand with the working families of Illinois.

Madigan’s Iron Dome.

Mike Madigan has been Speaker since 1983. Remember Lee Elia?

All this debate about whether we should vote for Quinn or not.

Save your breath.

When November’s election rolls around, the most powerful man in Illinois will be re-elected to office.

And you won’t be voting for him.

That would be the State Rep from the 22nd House District.

He will get the votes of a few thousand people, out of couple million in the state that will vote that day.

Michael Madigan.

He has been Speaker for all but two years since 1983.

The year Cub’s manager Lee Elia explained Chicago to the press.

Madigan is protected by an Iron Dome.

His daughter is the state’s Attorney General.

It is a relationship that will surely torpedo any further political ambitions she may have.

And he has appointed a legislative Investigator General who is nothing more than his golfing partner.

Roberts, 72, is a past Sangamon County state’s attorney, U.S. attorney for central Illinois and chief legal counsel to Edgar. Since 1997, he has worked for Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, a law firm based in Chicago with about 500 lawyers working in offices in 11 states. Roberts is the firm’s managing partner.

Roberts was a registered lobbyist from 2000 to 2013, state records show, but says he never lobbied the General Assembly.

His law firm, though, has financial and political ties to Madigan, other Democrats and also Republican legislators, records show. Among them:

Political committees controlled by Madigan paid Hinshaw & Culbertson more than $40,000 between 2002 and 2008, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections. Roberts represented Madigan during an investigation by federal authorities in Springfield into the possible misuse of state resources that ended in early 2005 with no charges filed.

Hinshaw has contributed to the campaign funds of Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago; Senate Majority Leader James Clayborne, D-East St. Louis; Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, R-Lemont; and House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs. Roberts personally donated $500 last year to the campaign fund of state Sen. Kirk Dillard, R-Hinsdale, a member of the Legislative Ethics Commission that approved Roberts’ appointment on May 30. Other members of that committee include Clayborne, who until recently worked for the law firm run by Roberts in its downstate Belleville office.

State agencies have hired Hinshaw and paid the firm more than $1.8 million over the past five years, state records show. That includes $2,339 from the Cullerton-led Senate Democrats in the 2012 budget year and $1,950 from the Madigan-led House Democrats in 2014.
Roberts says he worked directly with the Senate Democratic leaders but couldn’t recall if he personally worked with the House leadership. He says he also has counseled House Republican leaders.

Roberts says those connections won’t get in the way of him doing his job, which pays him on a case-by-case basis at a rate of $215 an hour to investigate misconduct complaints against lawmakers.

“I wouldn’t have taken the job if I thought there were conflicts,” says Roberts, who started in the post July 1, replacing Tom Homer, a Naperville attorney and former judge and Democratic state representative.

Right. Of course there aren’t any conflicts.

As for Rauner and Quinn?

In the words of the immortal Lee Elia, “They can kiss my f*ckin’ ass right downtown and PRINT IT.”

Springfield legislators get summers off. Nobody complains. Will Guzzardi and Michael Madigan.

guzzardi at johnny's

State Rep-elect Will Guzzardi and Johnny’s Grill which is no longer.

One of the talking points for teacher bashing is how teachers get paid for summers off.

When I try to explain how this isn’t true – that teacher contracts are a per diem – that we are contracted (in my case) for 185 days, the eyes of whomever I was explaining this to glaze over. It’s just easier to wrap your head around the summers off talking point. And don’t even begin to explain teacher pay schedules – about steps and lanes.


I feel the pain of many New York teachers who are trying to explain their unhappiness with the proposed new contract and so -called retroactive pay. Some teachers will be dead before they ever see a penny of it.

Oh. And was UFT President Michael Mulgrew quoted correctly in the NY Times?

“It’s the city’s money; we work for the city,” Mr. Mulgrew said. “So, once again, I can’t stress this enough, we work this out through negotiations. Retroactivity is not a God-given right.”

Damn. There’s a guy I wouldn’t want bargaining a contract for me. New York teachers haven’t had a pay increase in five years and Mulgrew is talking about God? God doesn’t negotiate good teacher contracts. Unions do. Or should.

Let me return to my discussion of teacher bashing and summers off.

Legislators in Springfield go home for the summer on Saturday – weeks before teachers do – and nobody complains about that.

And for good reason.

Okay. They passed a marriage equality bill. Not small potatoes, but a little late in the game. Probably minutes before a judge would have ruled the same thing. We now have 19 states that have decided what is obvious to many: The state has no interest in keeping people from getting married.

If they did they would have some explaining to do about Bruce and Diana Rauner.

Okay. Legislators in Springfield voted to legalize medical marijuana. Although that won’t stop Chicago police from arresting seven  one hundred and fifty times more minorities than white people for pot possession. Even though the cops could just write a ticket.

On the other hand, Illinois legislators refused to address the revenue issue.

No vote to put a Constitutional change from a flat tax to a graduated income tax on the ballot.

No millionaire’s tax.

And today Madigan admitted he didn’t have the votes to keep the 5% flat income tax. It will now return to 3.75%, causing massive cuts to public schools and social programs.

Not enough votes to raise the minimum wage.

Not enough votes for guaranteed minimum sick days.

We are talking about Democratic Party votes. Democrats have a veto proof majority in both Illinois chambers.

They voted to cut Medicaid.

They voted to cut workmen’s comp.

And, of course, they broke their promise to uphold the Illinois Constitution when they passed SB1 and cut public employee pension benefits.

About State Representative Laura Fine. She represents a district in the north suburbs of Chicago where many of our Skokie Organization of Retired Educators (SORE) live or taught. We are a retiree chapter of the Illinois Education Association.

Twelve hours before the vote on Senate Bill 1 ten members of our group met with Representative Fine to explain why she should vote against pension theft. She told us that she had not read the bill and hadn’t decided how she would vote.

Twelve hours later she voted yes. Her oath of office, her promise to her constituents, to uphold the Constitutional pension protection clause meant nothing to Representative Fine.

There was no confusion that SB1 violated the Constitution. Even Attorney General Lisa Madigan admitted that in her response to the court. Her claim isn’t that SB1 is constitutional. Her claim is that the state has the police powers to ignore the constitution.

You know. Kind of like martial law.

Representative Fine – like many of those in Springfield – engages in selective promise keeping. She defended her refusal to address revenue by claiming legislators had made a promise to roll back the 5% income tax.

This weekend Capital Fax’s Rich Miller wrote a column about whether or not my new State Representative Will Guzzardi will vote next January to return Michael Madigan to his position as Speaker.

Michael Madigan will be the Speaker in the next session. Whether Will votes for him or not is purely symbolic.

My hope is that Will – who is not only my State Rep-elect, but is someone I consider a friend – will vote no.

Sometimes symbolic votes are important. I think it would make those who worked for his election proud of him if he were say no to Madigan as Speaker.

If Will never gets to be inside enough to get a bill passed with his name on it, I don’t care. If he never gets to be a wheeler-dealer in that snake pit we call Springfield, I don’t care.

That he spends the next session being a voice for working families, teachers, public employees and the rest of us who sent him there – that will be good enough.

And then he can take the summer off.

He will get no complaint from me.

Where is the all-powerful Mike Madigan now?

the paper speaker

Back on December 3rd Michael Madigan had no problem getting the votes he needed to pass pension theft.

Senate Bill 1 had little support among Republicans because they thought the larceny didn’t go far enough. It actually left some coins in the jar.

They wanted it all.

But Madigan’s Democratic Caucus backed him up.  Many admitted that they knew it was morally wrong and probably unconstitutional.

Madigan has long cultivated a reputation as the Godfather of Springfield.

But when it comes to revenue, he acts more like Michael Corleone’s idiot brother, Fredo.

What happened to the progressive income tax?

What happened to the  Millionaire’s tax?

And now, what  is preventing the rollback of the five percent income tax?

Today’s Sun-Times reports Madigan is still significantly short of Democratic Party votes in the House.

Madigan’s House.

Understand. I don’t like a 5% flat tax. It’s wrong that Illinois’ richest man, Rauner and Rahm pal Ken Griffen, pays the same rate of income tax as an Associate at WalMart.

But the Fair Tax bill failed to get support in Madigan’s House.

And the Millionaire’s tax never left the starting gate.

What we are left with is the desperate need of revenue for basic social services and schools – services that will be butchered if we return to a 3% 3.75% state income tax.

We are already among the lowest taxing and lowest spending states in the country. We already provide the least state support for schools out of 50 states.

We are last in state school funding.

Last place.

The tax burden falls most heavily on local property taxes and taxes on sales and services. It falls most heavily on those least able to afford it.

Illinois has a regressive tax policy that drives away talent, people and jobs.

We understand that the Republicans make no claim on having an interest in lifting the burden on working families in Illinois.

Where is the all-powerful Mike Madigan when it isn’t about cutting the pensions of the retired public employees of the state?

A paper Speaker.

Madigan’s $1.5 billion gift to corporations.

Illinois Concealed Carry

Since we know that Democratic Speaker Mike Madigan believes in nothing but power and money, it is probably fair to assume there is more political calculation than not in his proposal to cut the Illinois corporate tax rate in half.

But I can tell you that there is not a public employee in the state of Illinois that does not feel the knives that are currently stuck in our backs turn a little when they heard the news.

After all, it was just two months ago that Madigan orchestrated the massive pension theft legislation.

Some pundits speculated that this was just another attempt to out maneuver Squeezy. 

The speaker’s move effectively one-ups Quinn, who offered virtually no relief to Illinois employers in his Wednesday State of the State Speech, by unilaterally acting to undo part of the controversial temporary hike in state corporate and individual income taxes that the governor and Illinois Democrats enacted in 2011.

But it is certainly not inconsistent with Illinois tax policy: A flat income tax that taxes the rich and the poor at the same rate. The lowest effective corporate tax rate in the midwest. One of the lowest taxing, lowest spending state governments in the country.

Addressing the Democratic Party’s State Chairman Madigan’s plan – Welcome to the Republican Party gloated State Senator Ron Sendack on Chicago Tonight last night.

The Illinois Charter Commission. The incestuous Michael Madigan.


Here’s how the Illinois Charter Commission works:

If a private group gets turned down by a local school board in an attempt to establish a charter school, they can appeal to the Commission. If the Commission gives a thumb’s up, that decision trumps the local school board. But the local citizens foot the bill.

Illinois democracy at its best.

Who created the Commission? Democratic Party Chairman and House Speaker, Michael Madigan.

Concepts Schools Inc runs a crappy charter in Rogers Park. When they made a request to open two more, even the charter loving CPS turned them down.

But Concepts charters is run by Fethullah Gulen, a political and religious group with ties to Turkey. More importantly, they have ties to Speaker Madigan.

So they went to Madigan’s Charter Commission, and CPS was overruled.

Madigan has taken four trips in the past four years to Turkey as the guest of the Chicago-based Niagara Foundation — whose honorary president is Gulen — and the Chicago Turkish American Chamber of Commerce, according to disclosure reports the speaker has filed.

State records show Madigan’s visits were among 32 trips lawmakers took to Turkey from 2008 through 2012. The speaker and members of his House Democratic caucus took 29 of those trips, which they described as “educational missions.”

Turkey was the destination of 74 percent of all foreign trips Illinois legislators reported receiving as gifts during the five-year period.

On his weeklong trip to Turkey in November 2012, Madigan’s delegation included Liz Brown-Reeves, a former Madigan aide who lobbied for the state charter commission this year in Springfield.

The politicians and other guests on the trips have to pay for their travel to and from Turkey. Niagara and the Turkish chamber paid for meals and hotels, Madigan and the other legislators reported.

Aurora Democrat Representative Linda Chapa LaVia has introduced legislation to do away with the state’s charter commission.

But with friends like Madigan, it is not likely to happen.

Chapa LaVia calls the situation incestuous.

Illinois retirees are just pawns in the political games of Cullerton and Madigan.

good cop bad cop

My friend and blogger John Dillon gets it right. As usual.

In Illinois, nothing but uncertainty, anxiety and distrust.  For hundreds of thousands of people working and retired.
You say it’s not a crisis, Senator, and I quite honestly would agree.  It is a debt and revenue problem, one caused by the diversion of required contributions by the General Assembly for other perks and programs.  But that’s not the direction you or your colleagues in the General Assembly will take.  Now, business wants that tax roll back, and you at least see how it is on the backs of those that paid in.  Thanks for that.
But your feeling sorry or being honest does not clean your hands, Senator.  As Newman said in Cool Hand Luke, “That don’t make it right, Boss.”
Thanks for being honest, Senator Cullerton, but that don’t make it right.
As the Illinois General Assembly meets this week and for three days in November, what is Democratic Senator John Cullerton up to?
His comment about there being no pension crisis was no slip of the tongue.
Is it an attempt to resurrect his and We Are One’s SB2404? He must know it will not pass the House. Democratic Speaker Michael Madigan won’t bring it to a vote.
He knows his comments will guarantee that nothing the Democrats support will now get a single Republican vote.
He knows that without a Republican vote, Madigan will not bring anything to the floor.
His comments kill a pension bill in this session. And probably in January when it will be too close to an election.
What’s Cullerton’s end game?
Are we and the taxpayers of Illinois nothing more than pawns in a power play between the Senate President and the Speaker of the House?

You may not like Lisa and Michael Madigan. But neither do they.


It turns out that we are not the only ones who don’t like the Madigan clan.

Neither do they.

Reports Greg Hinz in today’s Crains:

What’s the truth?

 It’s possible there was an understanding. She thought he was going to go and didn’t discover the truth until it was too late.

 More likely, I think, Ms. Madigan intended to run anyhow, until the Metra mess and the related failure of lawmakers to pass pension reform tarnished the family name so much that it was driving up her poll negatives.

 Or she could be right that she was misled. Or he could be right that she just didn’t listen.

 Only the two them know for sure, and neither is saying more right now. But it sure is entertaining — and not very helpful to the political future of either one of the bickering Madigans.