Saturday, August 11, 2018

Is Chicago 2/3rd of Illinois; or merely one of the state’s 13 metro areas?

Chicago’s share of Illinois’ population is just over 20 percent; although if one takes into account the entirety of Chicago metro it becomes about two-thirds of the state – with nearly half the state’s population living in a Chicago suburb.
All too absurd, but also accurate, a perception we have of our state
Yet I can remember my days as a Statehouse reporter-type person with officials from the “rest of Illinois” going out of their way to make references to the Chicago-area as “northeastern Illinois” (to make it sound no different than any other region) and making mention of the fact that the state technically has 13 metro areas.

WITH CHICAGO BEING merely one of them, and trying to act as though we don’t acknowledge the other “cities” that exist in Illinois.

That mentality is what largely is behind the measure signed into law this week by Gov. Bruce Rauner – one that says state agencies must regard Springfield as the default location for where employees on the state payroll are based.

Even though the trend of the past couple of decades is to recognize that the bulk of people who live in this state are up here along (or near) the shores of Lake Michigan.

Which causes griping amongst the people based in the Springfield offices of assorted state agencies because they want to be thought of as the home base – rather than just a distant outpost some 200 miles from the focal point of our state’s activity.
RAUNER: Gaining political points for self

THIS BECOMES A political tactic in that it is an act Rauner can point to in his efforts to gain enough votes from the partisans of central and Southern Illinois come the Nov. 6 elections that he can dream of overcoming the many Chicago-area voters who likely are determined to turn out to the polls to vote against Bruce (amongst others).

Rauner, who himself includes a Chicago city-based condominium among the several residences he owns (he’s that wealthy), is taking sides in the perpetual split between Chicago and rural Illinois.

Which actually is similar to the chasm that exists nationally between urban and rural – with those people who prefer the isolated lifestyle unable to comprehend that they’re in the minority of our society; largely because they don’t know many people different from themselves.
BLAGOJEVICH: Pot shots at former gov

The new law says every job title would have to have a location attached to it – and any position to be based in an office outside of Springfield would have to have a justification attached as to why it shouldn’t be a part of the Statehouse Scene.

A STUDY CONDUCTED for the Illinois Department of Central Management Services (essentially, the personnel department for state government) suggested that several hundred jobs currently based in Chicago ought to be relocated to Springfield.

Personally, I think it would be our state government’s loss if it were to carry this line of logic to an extreme. I suspect they’d find a loss in the quality of employees they’d find willing to take a state job if it meant having to endure “capital punishment” – which in political slang means to have to actually spend time in Springfield when the General Assembly itself isn’t in session.
The river IS why Chicago became what it is. Photo by Gregory Tejeda
Which means passing a law like this truly is a partisan act. Particularly since Rauner, in signing the bill into law, made a point of referring to many of the job location changes being made 15 years ago – as in the exact point when the always-despised Rod Blagojevich took office.

Blagojevich, of course, was the governor who was so unenthralled with showing up at state facilities that he eventually came to do the bulk of his work at an office in his Ravenswood neighborhood home – or at one set up in his ward, almost as though he were just a local political boss.

PERSONALLY, I THINK these regional spats have the potential to hold us back – since Illinois’ greatest advantage truly is that it has elements of all the parts of our society as a whole.
Would Abe have become a White Stockings fan

We ought to try to feed off our knowledge for the collective good.

Instead of thinking there’s something special about promoting the idea of our capital city – which itself is truly a product of 19th Century mentality. After all, we are a state whose settlement originally began in Southern Illinois, with people presuming that a city like Cairo (where the Mississippi and Ohio rivers converge) would be our pride and joy. We evolved into a place that emphasized Chicago because of its Lake Michigan/Chicago River location (while Cairo has withered away to a town of merely 2,000 people).

There’s even the fact that the family of Springfield’s most famed resident (none other than Abraham Lincoln) eventually moved on to Chicago itself. Would “Honest Abe,” if he had lived long enough to be a retired president, have wound up praising the joys of life in what came to be known as the Second City?


No comments: