Friday, October 16, 2009

Is Jacobs the lone voice of reason?

Back in the days when I was a reporter-type person covering the Illinois Legislature, one of the few legislators willing to speak his mind on a regular basis was then-state Sen. Denny Jacobs, D-East Moline.

The now-retired legislator from the Quad Cities most definitely considered himself to be “old school.” He wouldn’t have flinched from the label. Most likely, he would have looked down upon anyone who tried to use that label as a pejorative.

I COULD EASILY envision Jacobs (who once told me that 99 percent of what legislators say during sessions of the state Senate and Illinois House is “nonsense that should be disregarded”) being among the few to stand up and vote against the measure considered on Thursday that creates the concept of recall elections whenever a significant number of people get ticked off at the governor.

That is why I was glad to see that when the state Senate voted 56-1 to approve that nonsense bill, the lone legislator to show some sense was Mike Jacobs – Denny’s son. Mike replaced Denny when the elder Jacobs decided to retire from the Legislature in 2005 – following more than two decades representing the Quad Cities and northwestern Illinois in Springfield.

The younger Jacobs, who once was presented with a pair of boxing gloves as a gag by his colleagues after he got into a verbal altercation with then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich, said what some of his colleagues agree is true, but were afraid to back up with their vote.

I know some people are going to vehemently disagree (and some may start sending me obscenity-laced anonymous e-mail messages), but Jacobs is correct when he says the concept of recall elections can, “lessen the independence of a governor.”

THERE ARE TIMES when a government official has to be prepared to stand up for what they believe to be truly proper – without having to worry about whether enough people will have a political hissy-fit and start screeching, “recall.”

I also happen to believe that if an official gets himself elected with a majority vote, that majority ought to have to live with their mistake until the next Election Day.

If there really are circumstances taking place that are so abhorrent that an official ought to be removed from office, there is the option of impeachment. For those who will argue that impeachment imposes a high standard that is next to impossible to achieve in most cases, I say that’s a good thing.

It should not be easy to remove a public official from office. When an official takes that oath of office, we ought to have some reasonable assurance that they’re going to finish the term to which they were elected.

RECALL IS OFTEN the tool of the sore losers who can’t stand the fact that their preferred candidate didn’t get a majority, so they become obstructionists (rather than opposition, there is a difference between the two terms).

And the answer is “no.”

I don’t consider it to be a significant compromise that this measure approved on Thursday is limited solely to the recall of Illinois governors.

A bad idea is a bad idea, even if it only affects one political person at a time – rather than all elected officials.

I DO EXPECT this idea to eventually come up, since Gov. Pat Quinn throughout the years has been so eager for the general concept of “recall” that I can easily envision him signing the measure into law, then getting all worked up in coming months trying to get people excited in the November 2010 general election about undoing the results of the past.

Anyone who has read my commentaries published here in the past will not find this viewpoint surprising. I have always thought recall was one of those political concepts that was absurd – something done in places that have much less common sense than Illinois.

Like California.

Do we really want to be copying this costly, complicated measure that threatens the outcome of elections just because a few loudmouths want to scream?

THAT IS WHERE Jacobs was coming from when he became the lone opponent to recall, although the Chicago Tribune reported that a few other senators (including Kwame Raoul of Chicago, who represents Barack Obama’s old neighborhood in the state Senate) expressed the same theoretical opposition and said they were “reluctantly” voting “yes” on the recall.

I can understand where they’re coming from.

I fully expect the same people who would have been willing to lambaste them come Election Day will try to devote a little bit of their conspiracy-theory oriented approach to life to trashing me for writing this commentary – and perhaps many other pieces I have published in the past.

It’s just a shame that we don’t have more political people willing to stand up to the loudmouths of our society who want to shout down their opposition to the point where our society would become as deadly dull as they are when it comes to their ideology.


EDITOR’S NOTE: Will Mike Jacobs become as unpopular in coming weeks as state Rep. Deborah Mell, D-Chicago, who still gets grief from some people for being the lone ( legislator to vote against impeaching Rod Blagojevich (a.k.a., her brother-in-law)?

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