Well, just in time for the Illinois State Fair campaigning, the sniping has begun between Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn and his opponent, Bill Daley.
Daley's been aggressive in getting his message out, but it wasn't until he zeroed in on what would be a government double salary dip for Quinn's nominee for the Chicago Transit Authority board, Thornton Township Democratic Committeeman (and elected Supervisor) Frank Zuccarelli, that Quinn really shot back, noting the Daley family has, oh, a bit of history with cronyism.
Quinn told reporters "people" who are complaining about his nomination of Zuccarelli "should look in their own family."
Daley responded, essentially, that he's a different member of the family and history is in the past. Here's a thorough examination of it all by the Chicago Tribune.
Downing the grades
On another front, there's been an ongoing effort by the We Are One Illinois union coalition that is outraged that chief of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago, Ty Fahner, a former state attorney general, was captured on video at the Union League Club talking about calling and visiting credit ratings agencies to suggest they should be lowering Illinois' credit because of lawmakers' failure to approve pension reform.
This is indeed serious stuff we've written about before because any credit downgrade costs taxpayers more money whenever the state needs to borrow.
The union coalition has been keeping up the pressure this week with their statement here. Illinois Policy Institute columnist Scott Reeder defended the move. Now Fahner is doing some backpedaling to Rich Miller at Capitol Fax.
"I misspoke," Fahner says. "While I may have said so, I didn't call the ratings agencies, nor did any of our Civic Committee staff. My response to the questions was very confusing and inarticulate."
Wow. As Miller concludes, "So he made the story up out of whole cloth? And this guy is running the most powerful business group in Illinois?"
Staying focused on what affects us
Both the Zuccarelli back-and-forth and the Fahner-union sparring is indeed fascinating and entertaining stuff we all should track, but it's also, in one sense, distracting.
With Daley and Quinn, the snappy comebacks are the news. The focus ought to be whether we're going to put an end to government double and triple-dipping once and for all. It is quite stunning after the Metra mess, that Quinn would proceed to nominate someone to a transit agency who already is making six figures at a government township job. How does that happen?
An end to multiple government paychecks and pension at once is the issue voters need to demand.
And, of course, it's outrageous if true to think that the Civic Committee head actually encouraged credit managers to ding taxpayers. But the fact remains that we need pension reform and we're hearing little lately about what form it might take and when a specific plan might be offered for public examination.
Let's not lose sight of that.
When I headed up political coverage at the Daily Herald newspaper in the 1990s, I did my best to tone down the coverage of the sniping and the endless he said/he said/she said/he said.
Mostly, it doesn't serve much constructive purpose. As voters and owners of this democracy, we all need to stay focused on what these people who are asking us to employ them intend to do to us and for us.
And with the growing power of social media, Reboot Illinois will try to reach more voters and keep them informed on that and more in the months ahead.
One of the coolest things for me about diving in at Reboot Illinois has been all the great people with great ideas I've had the opportunity to explore. From the people at the World Presidents' Organization to the great team at Chicago Ideas Week to our new pals at the Chicago and Cook County-focused Daily Whale.
Shameless plug: Managing Editor Jani Actman did me the honor of an interview that was published this week. You can learn more about me, my past and the better citizen-activated future we hope to help create at Reboot Illinois here.
Catch you all on the flip side.
- See more at Reboot Illinois