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January 2010
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Democratic Primary for Governor– None of the Above!

The Illinois primary election is February 2, 2010. On that day, registered democrats and registered republicans are to take their party’s ballot. Independents– the vast majority of us– will select a ballot (although not both). Overall, there are better races on the democratic side (U.S. Senate is one example; Cook County President another), the exception being the top of the ticket– governor.

As 2010 dawns, Illinois finds itself in dire straits. Circumstances like this necessitate reflection: how did we get into this mess? How do we get out? Those are the two questions Illinoisans should be asking in the two weeks before the Illinois primary elections of February 2, 2010.

First, how did we get into this mess? Democratic leadership overspending in Springfield. Democratic leaders have been spending money we do not have. It’s like the democratic leadership is still listening to Bernie Madoff, even though he’s busted and in jail. Rod Blagojevich’s free rides for seniors is an excellent example of Springfield overspending. It is a nice idea to provide that luxury to seniors, problematic is that Illinois does not have the money for it.

The State of Illinois is nearly $5 billion behind in payments for services already rendered. Did you throw up a little in your mouth? Me too. Nearly $5 billion in unpaid bills. If I was $500 behind, Peoples’ Gas would shut off my heat– I can’t imagine being $5 billion behind. In 2010, the state of Illinois will be $12 billion in the red. $12,000,000,000. The total budget is $26 billion. Almost 50% of our budget is based upon money we do not have. Think about that: the State of Illinois is planning on spending $12 billion dollars more than it has. The only state that sounds like is the state of delusion.

I’ve met people who have lived beyond their means. So have you. They’re bankrupt. Actually, not all people who have had to go into bankruptcy are blatantly irresponsible like the politicians that run our state; there are thousands of people who must go into bankruptcy because of an illness. And maybe that’s just our problem, we are ill (inois). That’s why the politicians have gotten away with creating a $12 billion shortfall. This shortfall didn’t just happen last week– its been building and building and building. Like tension in a rubber band as it gets pulled. Eventually, that band breaks.

The problem is we overspend. Governor Quinn has planned to overspend by $12 billion this year. That plan– and past plans like it– is directly responsible for our problems. The politicians now try to make the problems and potential solutions complex– like we can’t possibly understand. Yet, the solution is really simple: we spend only what we have. That’s the way it works in my household.

The only way to clean this mess up is voting Republican for governor this fall. Governor Quinn, although a nice man, should not be our governor. He is not going to fix this mess. He’s had a year to start to fix the problem and all he has done is exacerbate it. In the last year, we’ve learned Pat Quinn will not stand up to Michael Madigan and other powerful state party politicians. For example, after the Blagojevich allegations came out, Governor Quinn demanded campaign ethics reform. Governor Quinn created a blue ribbon ethics panel that was to provide him with ways of overhauling campaign finance laws in Illinois. After the creation of that panel, the Speaker of the Illinois House, Michael Madigan, wrote a campaign finance bill that Quinn’s own blue ribbon panel blasted as being woefully inadequate– yet Pat Quinn was ready to sign the bill regardless of his blue ribbon panel’s objection, until the public rancor surrounding his signature on that bill overwhelmed him. In campaign finance reform Round II, Quinn sat on the sidelines. Governor Quinn said nothing. Governor Quinn did nothing. Without input, the governor signed a compromise bill crafted, in part, by Michael Madigan. Definition of leadership: NOT THAT!

That’s not the only time Pat Quinn has embarrassed himself by his lack of leadership. Last month, he wanted to save our state some money by allowing certain convicted felons to be released from prison early. If you actually look at the numbers, of the people released by Quinn, the average sentence was reduced by 34 days. The people released were not violent (granted, tough to define as they were felons). Yet, when the temperature in the kitchen starting rising because of that decision, not only did Pat Quinn leave that hot kitchen– he threw his prisons’ chief of staff, Michael Randle, in the kitchen. Quinn told us that he didn’t know what Randle was doing with that program. That is indefensible: either Quinn could not handle political heat for an unpopular decision so he threw a staffer under the bus or he didn’t know what was going on under his nose– even though the program was widely reported prior to its start. Neither alternative is very good. But allowing a staffer to take the blame for your decision? Pat Quinn, are you really that small?

Prior to his state of the State address, I could at least say I liked Pat Quinn, I’m not certain I can say that anymore. Although I have to admit, rambling for an hour and completely ignoring the $12 billion gorilla in the room was the only gutsy thing he’s done in his tenure as governor.

We have seen that Pat Quinn does not have the guts to defend or take blame for his decisions. Pat Quinn can’t say no to Michael Madigan. To get Illinois out of this $12 billion hole, here’s the litmus test: Does the governor have the backbone to say no to Mike Madigan? If your governor can’t say no to Madigan, then you should say no to your governor.

Dan Hynes. I probably should have written the above paragraph with empty blanks so you could fill it in with either Dan Hynes or Pat Quinn depending on who you were talking about. Dan Hynes, although he talks a good game during the election cycles, is and has been part of the problem. What have you heard about Dan Hynes before this primary campaign? Yes, his name is vaguely familiar– but certainly you could not distinguish him. That’s because he didn’t distinguish himself. He’s part of the democratic machine that runs Springfield and has run our state into the ground. Our state’s financial mess didn’t start when Dan Hynes announced his run for governor– and I don’t recall him ever saying anything about the amount our state spends– even though as comptroller he has the checkbook! Dan Hynes has not and will not say no to the special interests and politicians that run the state. He hasn’t yet– why start now?

The onlyway out of this mess is voting a republican for governor. Which is ironic considering the shambles the Illinois GOP is in. Who has the Illinois GOP given us to actually vote for as of late? Judi Baar Topinka? Alan Keyes? The best candidate the Illinois GOP has given us in the last 12 years is George Ryan and he’s not available. If it wasn’t for the Illinois GOP and its handling of Jack Ryan in 2004, Barack Obama would not be president today. Where is Jim Edgar when you need him?

All that said, on February 2nd, pick up a democratic ballot. If you live in Cook County, vote for Toni Preckwinkle. Vote for David Hoffman for U.S. Senate. Throw a dart or flip a coin when it comes to the democratic slot for governor, only because you must vote against that candidate in the fall. Our state depends on it.

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