– By John Dillon. Cross-posted from his blog Pension Vocabulary.
In Oak Forest, Illinois, this morning, torrential cloudbursts and flash floods pounded over 200 picketers waiting for a chance to give Governor Bruce Rauner a piece of their collective minds. Many wore soaked and clinging t-shirts proclaiming their affiliation with various union groups – electricians, pipefitters, drivers, and even CTU union representatives. Others held umbrellas or walked about in neon raincoats used when on the job. The mood was determined but patient.
Rauner was scheduled to appear before the Chamber of Commerce for the Orland, Illinois, area at Gaelic Park in Oak Forest to preside over a $30/person luncheon plate and a chance to hear the stumping Governor promote his “TurnAround Agenda.”
Its pretty much the same message that saw little interest and some blowback by union workers earlier this spring, but the Governor has added a cast of insidious characters in his new marketing campaign: Speaker Madigan and Senate Leader Cullerton. Rauner’s hoping for some traction with his tale this time.
In case he doesn’t get any, once again, he will launch what worked for him last time: an unending series of television commercials to make us all hate “the machine.” I wonder if Diana will be back to soften up the arrogance we often see in the effendi. Hope so.
An old blue and white bus struggled to find parking in the extra lot opened for the mushrooming crowds. Children and teachers from Park Lawn, a Southland center for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, warily stepped from the bus, all trying to stay under the safety of two very large umbrellas. Having shuffled to the safety of the canopied front entrance, they awaited the Governor’s arrival with signs decrying their uncomfortable and inhumane situation – being caught between a political game of chicken between the plutocracy and the politically puissant.
You might recall Rauner’s earlier budgets which called for the slashing of $millions normally provided for those with disabilities like autism and epilepsy. No wonder the Park Lawn kids were there.
Only three days ago, the Governor threatened he will also slash funding for the bus they came on.
The children – some of them clearly no longer children – held signs and posters for the Governor. Despite a bit unnerved by the downpours, the students of Park Lawn seemed more excited to be there and about to meet someone important. “We Matter,” spelled one sign – flourishing with sparkly glitter and colors. “Remember us,” pleaded another.
The luncheon was to begin at 11:30, but the rain poured from before 11:00 and past noon, with still no sign of the Governor’s entourage. Police traveling through the crowds in SUV’s kept the crowds aware of the Governor’s timeline for arrival.
Meanwhile, those attending the affair came dressed to the nines, well coiffed, and tastefully painted. They trotted briskly from opened automobile doors to get in the front, past the children from Park Lawn.
One obviously insulted (member of the) working class watched the people arriving, crossed his tattooed arms and snorted, “I suppose this is Rauner’s idea of the Middle Class. What a joke.”
“Kill off the unions, take away the worker’s rights and protections on the job, slide past safety standards, and make each village its own little fiefdom. It’s a TurnBack Agenda.”
Finally, the police informed the picket leaders that Rauner was arriving in another five minutes. “Do you think he’s being fashionably late? Or does he care about his wealthy constituency as little as he cares for the Middle Class,” suggested one of the CTU Union representatives.
“He’s trying to cut through the side parking lot to avoid having to approach the entry,” warned one of the leadership. “Quick, let’s meet him as he must walk through the side lot to the front (where the children of Park Lawn had left nearly half an hour earlier). Nearly 200 members of the Middle Class began a quick walk up to the front, but Rauner had driven behind the building to use a back door patio entrance to get in to his waiting crowds.
“A Man of the People…” yelled one frustrated man.
“The baddest enemy you could ever have is something of a coward,” suggested one other.
TurnAround Agenda? Heck, he’s just shown us his real plan, just like in Springfield, the SneakAround agenda.”
SneakAround to the back door.