Friday, October 10, 2014

ELECTION DAZE: How did gubernatorial dreamers ‘play’ in Peoria?

Personally, I thought the Thursday night debate between Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican challenger Bruce Rauner was rather “blah.” More a matter of scratching my head and wondering, “Do we really have to pick from these two guys for our state’s next governor?”

But I can think of one group of persons who probably were ecstatic with what they heard from the two – public educators.

SPECIFICALLY, I’M REFERRING to those schools superintendents all across Illinois who have been quaking in their pants for some time now concerning a measure pending in the Illinois General Assembly – the one that seeks to redo the way state aid is apportioned to school districts.

The bill in question, which has state Senate approval but still needs review by the Illinois House of Representatives, is meant to give more state funds to those school districts in areas where property values are on the decline.

But I have heard several superintendents and financial advisors say the bill’s specifics are so complex and convoluted that there aren’t any easy ‘winners’ and ‘losers.’ I have heard from district officials who are convinced they will lose money even though they technically are in areas where property taxes just don’t produce enough cash to keep the schools functioning at a respectable level.

During the debate, both candidates were asked whether they’d support the bill.

QUINN SAID HE hates it because he doesn’t like the idea of any school district losing state funds. He wants to find a way to increase the state’s share of money for all districts.

Whereas Rauner admitted he hadn’t studied the bill in great detail, but said that from what he had heard, he’d be inclined to oppose it.

Does this mean the sudden “whoosh” we heard Thursday night was the sound of superintendents across Illinois exhaling at the prospect that this reform measure may eventually wither away?

What else should we think of what was the first of three formal debates between Quinn and Rauner prior to the Nov. 4 general election?

LEGISLATORS GET ENDORSEMENTS THEY MAY NOT WANT: At one point, Bruce Rauner confessed to having respect for state Rep. Jack Franks, D-Woodstock, and state Sen. Toi Hutchinson, D-Olympia Fields.

While Pat Quinn said he respects Illinois House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, and former state Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale – who now is in charge of running the Regional Transportation Authority.

The question was meant to give the two gubernatorial hopefuls a chance to express some bipartisan support.

But how long will it be until those people named wind up wishing that the candidates had kept their mouths shut and not singled them out? Because we do have way too many people who view “bipartisan” as the ultimate dirty word.

POLITICAL ‘LOVE’ BY ASSOCIATION?: Bruce Rauner offered up Michigan Gov. Rick Scott, Florida Gov. Rick Scott and one-time New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg as examples of business-oriented people who achieved government office.

He tried to claim them as examples of why he should not be regarded as too inexperienced to hold Illinois government’s top political post. But I can think of many people who would view those examples as proof of why we should vote for Pat Quinn.

As for the Mighty Quinn? He tried at one point to gain some goodwill by touting the accomplishments of that Jackie Robinson West Little League team from the Roseland neighborhood that almost won the Little League World Series this year.

It makes me wonder if, on that date sometime in the future when Quinn has to appear before St. Peter and justify his admission to ‘Heaven,” will he try trotting those youngsters out as an example of something positive that happened on his watch?

GO AWAY!!!!: Chad Grimm is a 33-year-old gym manager who has the Libertarian Party nomination for governor. He also happens to live in Peoria, which would have made him the lone candidate who didn’t have to travel a great distance to partake in the debate at WTPV-TV studios in that central Illinois city.

But we didn’t get to see or hear from him, because the debate organizers wanted only candidates who register 10 percent or more in polls to participate. Various polls that have included Grimm put him at about 5 percent backing.

I know the rationale from TV types; they don’t want the stage cluttered with candidates who can’t win. But I have never bought that – I have always thought anyone who can actually beat the legal challenges and get their names on the Election Day ballot ought to be included.

So that the voters know for sure just who that otherwise-anonymous knucklehead is when they show up at a polling place to cast their ballots.


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