Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A DAY IN THE LIFE (of Chicago): Putting limits on ‘term limit’ talk?

Part of the reason I don’t think it’s such a big deal that Gov. Pat Quinn has that “26 percent” approval rating that some people like to toss out over-and-over is that the reality is that most people don’t think much of anybody in our state government.

MADIGAN: Truly the exception
The contempt isn’t solely for Quinn. There’s the recent Gallup Organization poll that showed, among other things, only 28 percent of people approve of the way Illinois’ state government works over all. Both Republican and Democrat.

AND I STILL recall that Chicago Tribune poll that had Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, with only a 13 percent approval rating.

So I wasn’t surprised to learn of the study released this week by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute – 79.5 percent of those surveyed either strongly or somewhat favor term limits for legislators. And 82.7 percent would support the idea of limiting how long someone could serve as a legislative leader.

It’s just the usual contempt some people feel for government when they don’t comprehend its actions. Although much of what I see and hear anecdotally indicates that what most people feel is that they want their officials to remain – and everybody else’s to go away – so that their views will prevail!

I also sense that many are amazed at the concept of Michael Madigan being in charge for as long as he has (a member of the Illinois House from the Clearing neighborhood since 1971, who became House speaker in 1983 and has been in charge ever since – except for that two-year period when we experienced the concept of “Illinois House Speaker Lee Daniels, R-Elmhurst”). Their overwhelming support for the idea is a gut reaction to that.

DANIELS: Did 'speakership' really happen?
YET THAT IS the very reason why I’m skeptical of term limits. That, and the fact that Republican gubernatorial hopeful Bruce Rauner seems to want to use this concept to build traction for his own campaign against Quinn.
Madigan is the exception to the rule. Just about everyone else who has ever been a legislative leader in Illinois hasn’t come close to the amount of time served that would limit them out of the post. Should we really want to make long-term changes to our laws because of the exception that may never occur again?

In part, because Rauner thinks if he can’t beat his opponents in a head-to-head fight, he’ll just try to eliminate the opposition altogether. Which, to me, is as cynical a reason to do it as any in politics. As bad as those who use redistricting processes to limit the ability of people to challenge incumbent candidates.

What else is notable these days on the southwestern shores of the thawing-out Lake Michigan, where our residents fear that fully shaking off winter coping mechanisms will result in bad karma and us getting hit with one more winter snowstorm?

78 CENTS ON THE DOLLAR: Gov. Pat Quinn wants to make sure he takes the vote of the female segment of the electorate come Nov. 4.

Quinn trying to be Kennedy-esque?
Or maybe that’s just a cynical way to interpret the event he held Tuesday to show he supports the concept of equal pay for women. It turns out that it was Equal Pay Day across Illinois, even though I suspect most people didn’t have a clue.

“Here we are in 2014, 51 years after President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act, and women on average still don’t earn as much as their male counterparts in the workplace,” Quinn said. “We won’t be satisfied until all workers are equally compensated for the same work, regardless of their gender.”

He also pointed out that during the past decade, the state’s Equal Pay law has resulted in 709 complaints about unequal pay for women, and the resulting investigations have resulted in $690,000 in back wages being paid.

3-4 & 2-4 – 25 MORE WEEKS TO GO:  Those are the won-loss records for Chicago’s two baseball clubs, following the first week of play. It’s early, but it seems neither the White Sox nor Cubs are going to be pennant contenders.

This season's highlight?
Thus far, the one-time Cuban beisbol sensation Jose Abreu has shown some ability. I still am impressed with that three-run triple he hit against the Minnesota Twins – except that the White Sox seemed determined to blow that ballgame.

How long Abreu can keep it up will be intriguing. He could be legitimate. Although that aforementioned game may wind up being typical of the season – losing despite themselves.

As for the Cubs, it’s going to be another lame year. Fans will turn out to play along with the whole “Century of Wrigley Field” celebration, where they will fondly reminisce about all the past losers they rooted for – while trying to ignore the current incarnation of the “lovable losers.”


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