Monday, June 15, 2015

I got my Topinka dish; and I didn’t even have to go to the estate sale

A Topinka item with no purpose? How appropo!
During my more than two decades of being a political reporter-type person, I have accumulated some pieces of memorabilia ranging from a pot holder depicting the face of one-time Illinois gubernatorial candidate John Schmidt to a ball cap of Bill Bradley – the one-time New Jersey senator.

Yet the item that amuses me the most is a glass dish with lid that I have kept on whatever desk I have worked at since back when I was a Statehouse reporter-type person in Springfield.

THE DISH WOULD be ordinary glass, not even tinted any particular color. But it has embossed on its lid the Illinois State Seal and the name of Judy Baar Topinka – who back then was the state treasurer.

I remember Topinka herself giving me the dish, while also concocting a tale about the many different uses one could put the dish to. Which makes me suspect it’s really just a less-than-tacky little trinket that serves no real purpose.

I also recall the reason she felt compelled to give me the dish was that one of her aides saw all the political junk I had accumulated, and he was offended that Topinka’s persona was NOT represented amongst the mess.

Including Judy in the mess was something he thought she would appreciate.

ALL OF THIS popped into my mind when I learned how Topinka’s family held an estatesale this past weekend; allowing people into her cluttered home in suburban Riverside to give them a chance to find themselves a great bargain on some item they could use for themselves.

Considering that I remember Topinka herself occasionally talking of how she’d shop at second-hand stores and at estate sales, I suspect she’d find it totally appropriate that her possessions were disposed of in such a manner.

Just a few of the items for sale this weekend
I didn’t make it out to Riverside – heck, I already have my Topinka-related possession (which for all I know will wind up at an estate sale hopefully to be held decades from now once I pass on). Although I saw the description on and the photographs of the merchandise that make it clear a lifetime’s worth of possessions were being unloaded.

It looks like the ultimate garage sale was held Thursday through Saturday in Riverside. The perfect place for Topinka-type people to spend an afternoon rummaging for that item they absolutely had to own.

NOT THAT I would expect anything of significant value was for sale. For one thing, Topinka held an estate sale of some of her possessions back in 2007.

The listing back then said much political memorabilia (including autographed photographs of her with assorted politicos) was up for sale, with some of the proceeds given back to the Republican Party that she was a loyal member of for so long – even though she could also get along with Democrats.

Which make me think that our state would be so better off these days if we hadn’t lost Topinka back in December when she passed away just after Election Day but before she could begin serving the new four-year term as comptroller to which she had been re-elected.

Thinking of Topinka and her junk makes me wonder how she’d be reacting to the stalemate taking place these days between Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democratic leaders of the General Assembly in putting together a budget for the soon-to-be current fiscal year.

I HAVE NO doubt she’d be criticizing Mike Madigan and John Cullerton for their actions – she was a GOPer, after all. But I also have no doubt she would be appalled by the childlike tantrums being thrown by government officials of all political persuasions these days.

I don’t think she would have had that same press conference that current Comptroller Leslie Munger held to blame Madigan and Cullerton for the pending government shutdown (only 16 days ‘til July 1). She would have been trying to find that middle ground that would prevent a shutdown from being necessary.

And she’d probably be the one who – in private – would tell Rauner in rather blunt language what a knucklehead he’s behaving like and how quickly all of this could turn the people of Illinois against him if he lets his partisan desires to whack at the labor unions prevent state government from fulfilling its obligations to the people.


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