Monday, August 27, 2012

Somebody out there likes Pat Quinn

Gov. Pat Quinn used his veto power on Sunday to formally reject a measure that would have restricted municipalities that wanted to ban plastic bags in their communities.
QUINN: The 'green' gov?

Which on the surface will result in wisecracks about how eager Quinn was to please a pre-teen girl who led an effort to lobby on the issue that actually resulted in some 175,000 signatures of support on her petitions.

NOT BAD FOR anyone, particularly a 13-year-old.

But it’s not just Abby Goldberg of the northwestern suburbs who is pleased these days. Because in reading the press statement Quinn issued to explain his veto of the “plastic bag” bill, I couldn’t help but notice a quote issued in the name of Jennifer Walling, who is director of the Illinois Environment Council.

“With this veto, Gov. Quinn has completed the 2012 legislative season with a perfect record for the environment,” Walling said, in the prepared statement.

At a time when many people like to point to high “unfavorable” ratings for Quinn in the 40s (of percentile) in various polls and approval ratings significantly below that of Dick Durbin, Rahm Emanuel or Barack Obama (the other big political names on our “local” political scene), it seems that at least one group of people is willing to say something nice about the “Mighty” Quinn.

I DIDN’T FOLLOW every single bill of interest to the environmental lobby. But there were a couple of issues I did monitor during the summer months, and as it turned out the environmental activists did wind up getting their way.

One was a bill that made landfill creation or expansion within Cook County against the law – which went directly in the face of what the Land & Lakes Co. of suburban Park Ridge wanted to do in annexing a landfill currently split between Chicago and suburban Dolton entirely into Dolton.

Now, it’s just a shuttered property, and Land & Lakes is going about issuing statements about how irresponsible Quinn was (and trying to shift the blame for Dolton having to find a new place to dump its own trash onto the governor).

There was another bill of environmental interest – one that would have made changes in the state law to encourage continued development of a portion of the old Republic Steel site in the East Side neighborhood into a plant that would use the gasification process to turn Southern Illinois-mined coal into a synthetic gas that could then be sold to utility companies.

ORGANIZED LABOR LOBBIED hard and heavy for this bill. They liked the idea of the thousands of construction jobs that would be created to build the plant, and the couple-hundred it would create to operate the plant once it was built.

Union officials were very clear in siding with the business interests and local political officials, including 10th Ward Alderman John Pope, who also wanted this bill signed into law.

Yet Quinn wound up siding with the environmentalists from organizations such as the Sierra Club, who devoted their time and effort to helping the local residents who objected to the idea because they didn’t want another industrial plant located near their homes.

Even though the business interests that wanted the plant always claimed the local residents didn’t truly appreciate how modern technology reduce the potential for pollution.

I REMEMBER THINKING back then that Quinn was likely to sign that particular measure into law. I thought he’d view it as a balancing act – giving environmentalists the landfill ban and giving his organized labor allies the gasification plant.

Even though the environmental activists contended they weren’t surprised that they won both issues on the grounds that the governor was determined to do the “right” thing – at least as far as how they perceived it. So they are happy – even though many others are miffed. I can’t help but wonder what kinds of things are being said at union halls these days – particularly after those union workers get a drink or two in them.

And maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that Quinn went along with the “plastic bag” bill. I’m sure Quinn could have managed to make himself look completely ridiculous if he had tried to explain why he wouldn’t give in to Goldberg.

He could have come across as looking like a complete oaf.


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