Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Ya gotta love Judy

TOPINKA: No longer a political has-been
Every time I start to think that political partisanship is becoming too intense and that our society is doomed as a result, Judy Baar Topinka somehow opens her mouth and convinces me that maybe there is hope for us.

Her latest moment came Monday at mid-day when she joined the other Illinois constitutional officers in being sworn in to terms running through January 2015. It is now Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka. She’s back on our political scene.

IN FACT, IT may well have been Topinka who made the most memorable scene at the inauguration ceremony, conducted on the basketball court of the Prairie Capital Convention Center in Springfield.

First, she had her son, Joe, a major in the Army, administer the oath of office to her (no judges for this Judy). She got the chuckle when, at about 35 seconds into the oath, Judy cut him off by saying, “that’s getting awfully long.”

But I wouldn’t be commenting on Topinka if all she did was make a joke. She also used her address to make a serious point about political partisanship at a time when Democrats have a firm grasp on Illinois state government.

And no, Judy didn’t take a pot shot at Democrats. She included her GOP colleagues as well, claiming that the spirit of bipartisanship is one that has to be shared by government officials of both major political parties if anything meaningful is going to change.

TOPINKA – WHO HAS said during her time as Comptroller-elect that she would use her position that actually pays government bills to interfere with Democratic plans to borrow money if she did not think they were responsible – said everybody is to blame for the mess that is the state’s financial condition these days.

“Both parties have for a very, very long time helped dig this ditch,” she told the crowd gathered for inaugural festivities. “We’re all responsible. Since we all dug, it’s time that we got together to find the courage, the will and the civility to pull ourselves out of that ditch and make Illinois great again.”

You just know that the conservative ideologues of Illinois who plan to portray everything that happens at the Statehouse during the next two years as some sort of conspiracy by Chicago to undermine the “decent” people who live outside of the city were gnashing their teeth.
From the Republican News Watch

They don’t want to hear the honesty behind a statement that the GOP officials haven’t done a thing to alleviate the problem. These are the people who probably think the United Republican Fund is being super when they talk about targeting any Republican official who votes on Tuesday for a plan to raise the state income tax to help alleviate the state’s financial mess.

AS TOPINKA PUT it, “we need to put aside any petty bickering and partisan fights.” She also said, “it’s too easy to blame one (political) party, but it wouldn’t be true.”

After all, those people who backed William Brady’s gubernatorial campaign even though he never seriously addressed the need for more revenue to pay the state’s expenses (it’s pure fantasy to think that only budget cuts can balance the state’s budget) were doing little more than ignoring the issue – preferring to play partisan games of their own that would have harmed the state irrevocably.

Of course, the reason our state’s situation became so bad to begin with was we had a Democratic legislature determined to teach then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich who was really in charge, and a governor who was more than willing to behave in a spiteful manner.

Blame for our mess really does go around to everybody – no matter how much certain officials want to claim it’s, “the other guy’s fault.”

WHICH MEANS TOPINKA’S most controversial statement during her inaugural address (which lasted just over nine minutes) may well be that our state government has “good and honorable people” at its head.

I’d like to think she’s right. In fact, I suspect the only people who are going to have serious disagreement with anything Topinka said on Monday are the ones who rant about “RINOS” and whose sole complaint is that she didn’t share in the partisan rant that they would have desired from the woman who now is the highest-ranking Republican official in Illinois state government.

Personally, I don’t dispute Topinka’s credentials as a member of the Republican Party. This is a woman who once seriously believed that Phil Gramm should be president of the United States. I just wish we could get more officials who were willing to put aside the partisan labels from time to time. Which makes me encouraged by her rhetoric that she’s “not going away until” the state fixes its finances, joking at one point that she may someday be taking an oath of office from her infant grand-daughter, Alexandra.

“That should scare you, okay?” Topinka told the gathering. Actually, it doesn’t, not anywhere near as much as that campaign van that she referred to when she was sworn into office in 1995 – resulting in the “fart joke” that still gets remembered in some political quarters.


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