Friday, June 7, 2013

Gaining respect for Mr. Speaker

I carry a Nokia Lumia smartphone these days, and will admit it comes in useful when it comes to work.

MADIGAN: No phone?!?
I’m not anchored to a desk with a landline waiting to hear from people. Yes, there literally have been times when someone returned my call, and I conducted an interview with a “source” while standing in an aisle of a supermarket.

BUT I HAVE to admit there are times I yearn for the days when I didn’t carry any type of telephone on my person. It wasn’t that long ago. I was a hold-out for many years!

I have to confess to feeling a little bit of admiration these days for Michael Madigan. The almighty and powerful “Mr. Speaker” of the Illinois House of Representatives has gained attention for the fact that he allegedly does not have his own personal cellphone.

The issue came up when Gov. Pat Quinn was to meet Tuesday with the leaders of the Illinois Senate and House of Representatives to try to figure out what can be done to resolve the problems confronting state government when it comes to funding pension programs.

Madigan didn’t bother to show up.

THERE HAD BEEN some hope that Madigan, who had a prior commitment at the time that Quinn wanted to meet in his office at the Thompson Center state government building, could somehow “call in” to the meeting and participate in that way.

Except that he doesn’t have a cellphone, and apparently decided that nothing of significance was going to take place at such a gathering. So he was just a no-show.

SORVINO: Could he play Madigan in movie?
The tidbit from Quinn that Madigan doesn’t have a cellphone has triggered countless criticism from the people who spend way too much of their time on the Internet posting their views to other peoples’ opinions.

It’s a generational thing, particularly from people who can’t conceive of life without having some sort of gadget on their person. How can anyone possibly think they can exist in our times without having a phone that makes them completely accessible to all at virtually every moment of the day?

I HAVE READ people who compare Madigan to the “Paulie Cicero” character from the film Goodfellas – played by actor Paul Sorvino, he was the gangster boss who refused to have a telephone placed in his own home and instead had all his calls received by other people who then had to pass messages along to him.

Heck, in the novel The Godfather, it is explained that Don Corleone didn’t like to talk on telephones because he feared someone would listen in and somehow “rearrange” his words to be used as evidence against him.

Madigan the “mob” boss of the Illinois House “family” is the image that some people are trying to put on him, just because Madigan doesn’t have a phone on him – preferring to borrow a phone from someone around him if he has an absolute need to make a quick call!

That just sounds way too over the top to be believable.

BESIDES, LIKE I already stated, a part of me remembers with some fondness the days when I didn’t carry a cellphone with me. I also remember a former work colleague who once tossed a pager into the Chicago River, claiming, “It beeped one too many …… times.”

There’s a certain sanity to the idea of focusing one’s attention on the here-and-now and what we’re supposed to be doing – instead of being available to anybody who thinks they can suddenly snatch away our attention with their phone calls.

QUINN: Needs to lead on pension problem
Particularly when those calls are usually just their efforts to impose their trivialities into our lives. Yes, I would think much more of modern communications technology if I didn’t see the trivial messages it often is used to deliver. So to the degree that Madigan is actively trying to maintain his privacy and avoid the trivialities, I can respect him.

Now if only he and Quinn and Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, could take their heads out of their collective behind and address the pension funding issue that threatens to bankrupt Illinois, then I’d have real respect for our officials. Because right now, I fear that the special session Quinn called for on June 19 is going to amount to a whole lot of nothing.


1 comment:

Levois said...

I know that this is an old article, however I must admit I wish for the days when everyone didn't carry a cellphone. They're nifty devices for sure, but how distracting and how disruptive they can be sometimes negates the niftyness. This is a relatively young person who's talking this way too.