Considering the reality of partisan politics, I won’t be the least bit surprised if one week from now, we in Illinois still have a capital crimes statute on our state law books.
I make that statement at a time when Illinois has come closer than ever before to abolishing the penalty of death as legitimate for certain violent crimes.
REGARDLESS, WE’LL ACTUALLY know by Tuesday night what will happen on this issue. For we are in the “lame duck” portion of the General Assembly session. Wednesday at Noon is when the new Legislature elected back on Nov. 2 will take control.
So if it isn’t done by then, the whole process has to start over.
So that’s why I don’t get excited at the sight of headlines in the Friday newspapers that say the Illinois House of Representatives voted to abolish capital punishment. We still have to see what the Illinois Senate does. Then, on to Gov. Pat Quinn – who has been reluctant to say he supports any of this legislative effort on the issue.
For while it seems that state Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, wouldn’t mind seeing the death penalty wither away in Illinois, not all of his legislative chamber’s members feel the same way.
CONSIDERING THAT HE is now trying to twist arms to get them to vote for a proposed increase in the state share of the income tax (from 3 percent to 5.25 percent – raising 75 percent more money for the state), it is questionable whether Cullerton will have the desire to do an equally intense arm twisting for capital punishment, particularly since the tax hike is related to resolving the state's severe financial problems. That issue MUST be addressed. Capitol punishment would be a luxury if there is time.
|VERSCHOORE: Wise counseling|
The Illinois House vote did, however, give us a bright moment – learning that state Rep. Pat Verschoore, D-Milan, was the legislator credited with changing his mind to support abolishment, thereby creating the 60th vote needed for passage. Verschoore says his wife’s opposition to capital punishment was a factor in his decision. So should we wind up doing away with a death penalty in Illinois, perhaps we owe a debt of gratitude to Charlene, the representative’s wife of 46 years.
So what else was notable about the first full week of 2011?
The whole concept of releasing one’s returns was meant to be a token gesture by political people that gives some superficial information about one’s finances. But Plummer, the GOP lieutenant governor candidate last year, and Moseley-Braun, who is running for mayor this year, both tried to claim they had a right to privacy.
BIPARTISAN TAX TWITS: Future political people who experience personal indignation about making their income tax returns public ought to keep the names of “Jason Plummer” and “Carol Moseley-Braun” in mind before getting all snitty.
|Moseley-Braun: Bigger than it had to be|
Plummer remained stubborn all the way through his failed campaign, while Moseley-Braun ultimately backed down. But the returns she has released have been so closely scrutinized that we now fully appreciate how unsuccessful she has been in business since leaving the federal government’s employ back in 2000.
The lesson here is that if Moseley-Braun had just turned over the returns without having to be prodded, chances are good they would have received a superficial review and we already would have filed them away – never to be seriously looked at again.
WHO’S KIDDING WHOM: President Barack Obama went ahead this week and picked mayoral brother (and son) William Daley to be his new chief of staff. Considering that he spent recent years working for JP Morgan, it has certain progressive types convinced that the president is pandering to the right by picking a Wall Street type.
That concept has me laughing hysterically. The idea that the way to pander to conservatives and to business interests is to pick the Son of Hizzoner, Richard J. Daley, who comes from the land that doesn’t succumb to rural conservative ideologues, is so blatantly absurd – just as much as those people who honestly want to believe that Obama is literally a socialist.
What this does is mean that Obama will be bashed by the right for picking a “Chicago Machine hack” to run the federal government just as much as the left for picking a guy whose income in recent years has been around $5 million annually.
Does this mean that by ticking off all the ideologues, Obama may very well have found the proper person to run the White House staff for him for the next two years? Most likely.
WHAT MORE DOES HE WANT?: Former Gov. George Ryan has applications to both the U.S. District Court and to the warden at the federal correctional center at Terre Haute, Ind., seeking to be released from prison for awhile so he can be with his wife – who is dying at a hospital in the Ryans’ hometown of Kankakee.
|RYAN: Free for a day?|
Yet federal prosecutors who would rather see nothing that shows anything resembling leniency toward Ryan (fearing that it taints their record of a conviction against him) point out that he WAS released on Wednesday, and got to spend two hours with former first lady Lura Lynn.
During that time, he was escorted by U.S. marshals, and Ryan’s attorney, (also) former Gov. James R. Thompson, said it was federal officials who insisted that no word be given out about the fact that Ryan got a one-day break from his prison time.
Federal prosecutors say the fact that he got the one-day release means that action can be taken without a more wide-ranging court order. Yet if Lura Lynn’s period of illness extends into any length of time, it would only make sense that a court order would be the responsible way to go – rather than having a warden continually approving one-day visits between Terre Haute and Kankakee (roughly a four-hour drive each way).