Saturday, September 28, 2013

Legislators rush to the bank to get their money before a judge changes mind

“An extortionist” was the term used by one member of the Illinois General Assembly to describe Gov. Pat Quinn these days.

QUINN: A loser, for now
Of course, this particular legislator was snickering when he used the term. He could afford to laugh. For just a few hours earlier on Thursday, a Cook County judge issued an order that said Quinn was wrong to take actions that caused legislators to not get paid during the months of August and September.

THAT SAME JUDGE on Friday refused Quinn’s request of a stay that would allow for the governor’s salary ban to remain in place while legal appeals continue before the Illinois Supreme Court. Late in the day, an appellate court panel also rejected the idea of a stay.

Personally, I won’t be surprised if some judge somewhere manages to rule that Associate Judge Neil Cohen missed some esoteric concept of law and that his ruling is flawed. As it is, there are those who say that this was a purely political ruling that shows the high level of influence that Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, has over the court system in Cook County.

But it won’t matter from a practical standpoint.

Because Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka – who in recent weeks has bad-mouthed Quinn every chance she could get for this issue – was quick on the draw to start issuing checks to the Legislature’s members.

IN THEORY, THE people who received their monthly payments (the 1st of each month) by direct deposit into their bank accounts had their money by Friday morning. Topinka’s staff said that all checks were in the mail by 3 p.m. on Friday.

I could just envision the outburst that would occur if someone gets a check in the mail in coming days, only to learn that a stop-order prevented them from getting their money.

Will Gov. Quinn glare at Daley Center ...
Particularly since it creates a situation where some would get paid and some wouldn’t – because the people with direct deposit already have their money.

And I doubt they’re ever going to be in a mood to give the money back.

IN SHORT, THE Legislature wins this fight in the short-term. The 177 members of the General Assembly to whom Quinn wanted to deny their salaries until a resolution was found to the problem of inadequate pension program funding will get their money.

The best that Quinn could hope for at this point is that he can find a sympathetic judicial panel somewhere that’s willing to re-impose his salary ban on legislators – and do so before Tuesday.

... while asking Supreme Ct to overrule?
Because that’s the beginning of a new month. We could well get legislators all gleeful that they got two months back pay, along with a little bit of interest, only to have them repeat this legal fiasco next week!

Now I don’t know how you feel about this situation, although I am amazed the degree to which many people who don’t follow the inner-workings of government don’t have any objection to the notion that the Legislature didn’t deserve to be paid.

MAYBE WE’RE GOING to see an outcry to the legislators getting all happy about being paid even though we still don’t have a solution to pension program funding problems.

Although the fact that nobody really likes Quinn all that much probably means they’re not going to get too worked up over his legal loss! This issue may well turn out to be a big “yawn” in the minds of the public.

Which is the sad part. Too many people don’t care enough to get involved. Which is why our state’s pension funding problems have lasted for so many years without solution – WITHOUT recriminations against anyone.
That pension problem is the REAL problem. And it is one that we don't seem to be focusing on in all this politically-inspired gibberish about compensation.


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