Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Gov gives Brady what he wants, still loses

The summer isn’t even over, yet we’re getting hard-core campaign activity. How else to explain the fact that Republican gubernatorial nominee William Brady is upset about a new law he sponsored?

At stake is the fact that Brady currently is a state senator from Bloomington, and one of the bills he introduced this spring actually made it all the way through the legislative process, and was signed into law earlier this week by Gov. Pat Quinn.

CONSIDERING THAT THIS gives Brady a legitimate legislative accomplishment to include on his record, and one that could bolster his record when it comes to the campaign season, some might have expected Quinn to veto the measure out of political spite.

Sure, the Legislature could have come back during the veto session and over-rode him – making it law anyway. But that wouldn’t have happened until after the Nov. 2 elections. Who would have remembered? Or cared?

Instead, Quinn signed the measure into law. Yet Brady is upset. He thinks Quinn didn’t give him and his “issue” enough public attention. He would have wanted Quinn to tout this bill as a major accomplishment of the administration – and one given to him by Brady himself.

If it sounds like I write that last sentence with a mocking tone, you’d be correct. Brady ought to be thankful he got his “new law” in place, because that bill was one of his own attempts to create an issue for the campaign season. It would have made sense for Quinn to veto the thing, just for the sake of rejecting it.


Enough of this partisan babbling. The issue relates to the early release of prison inmates who appear to be behaving while incarcerated in a manner sufficient enough that their continued imprisonment just doesn’t make much sense at a time when the state’s prison system is grossly overcrowded.

There already are measures for early release for good behavior, but it seems that under Quinn, there was a program by which additional good time could be earned. The result is a set of inmates who were set free, and some of them either immediately got themselves arrested, or are not complying with probation requirements because they have managed to disappear altogether.

That situation creates embarrassment for Quinn. Back during the primary campaign season, opponent Dan Hynes tried to make an issue against Quinn out of this, and it did hurt his support.

BRADY HIMSELF TRIED to score some political points by coming up with his bill that is now law – requiring the Illinois Department of Corrections to use their website to publish pictures and basic information about inmates who are set free under special early release programs.

Theoretically, it gives the public information that might help us realize that a person who suddenly shows up in our communities might have a past that we should be concerned about. In reality, it allows Brady to say that such a law was required because of the incompetence of state corrections officials during the Quinn administration.

Brady had his campaign spokesman issue a statement saying that Quinn should have signed this bill into law with much fanfare. Perhaps a big bill-signing ceremony, with Quinn turning over the pen he used to apply his signature to paper to Brady himself, who would then be allowed to grandstand on the issue – with the “Mighty Quinn” forced to stand at his side and take the verbal abuse.

Once again, more sarcasm on my side. Such a sight was never going to occur, and Brady knows that. For him to have such self-righteous claptrap be issued in his name makes him look absurd – almost as absurd as it was back in June when Quinn held a ceremony to honor the Illinois Wesleyan University baseball team for winning an NCAA Division III national championship and Brady took offense that he wasn’t invited on account of the fact that he is an alum (Class of 1983).

THE SIMPLE FACT is that the Illinois Legislature approves hundreds, sometimes near 1,000, bills each year. The number of them that get elaborate ceremonies to celebrate their approval are but a dozen or so.

Most of them get signed in batches usually timed for moments when political people think no one is paying much attention. By and large, few people are.

Then, there are cases such as this bill, which was signed just as its time for consideration was running out. State law gives a governor 60 days from the date a bill arrives in his office to take some sort of action. So yes, it is true that Quinn handled this particular issue in as low-key a manner as possible.

But considering that this is an election year, it would not have been surprising for Quinn to just take a “no” attitude toward anything with Brady’s name connected to it. Which means my bottom line is that Brady should be thankful he got his legislative accomplishment – which I’m sure he will still find ways to use to smack Quinn upside his head a few times.


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