Now onto the column...
Mayor Daley: Loves to blame Springfield for the CTA's budget shortfall and service problems, but appointed a political hack to run the agency (Frank Kruesi) who made a complete mess of things and alienated just about everyone at the state capital. He claims to be a top-notch big-city manager but allowed the transit system to decay almost beyond repair. If he worked as hard on fixing the CTA as he has bringing the Olympics to Chicago, there might not be a crisis.I focused on the three players in Springfield. One who probably could have done a better job of being a uniter who instead just couldn't help but get involved in a personality clash. One guy who I see as the more responsible leader in Springfield and another one who seems to just be in the pocket of the first guy I just described. I'll let you the reader determing who I'm talking about but I'm talking about the ones who I've bolded in the quote.
Gov. Blagojevich: Held the CTA bailout (and CTA riders) hostage for months so he could win passage of a long list of other priorities. Desperately tried to shift every bit of blame from himself to the General Assembly for failing to come up with a solution. Hasn't proposed a real solution himself.
Senate President Emil Jones: Until this week, refused to even call a CTA funding bill for a vote. Is allied with Gov. Blagojevich and has eagerly cooperated with the governor's scheme to hold the transit money hostage for new casinos, a capital plan and expanded health coverage.
House Speaker Michael Madigan: Battled Jones and Blagojevich every step of the way. Insisted that the CTA and RTA bailouts not be tied to anything else, which has held up progress on everything because he has not yet agreed to any resolutions of those aforementioned issues. Madigan ignored pleas from former CTA boss Kruesi a few years ago to find a way to inject more money into the transit system mainly because he personally despised Kruesi.
Many Downstate legislators: After Chicago legislators agreed to force Chicago-based ComEd's parent company Exelon to subsidize lower rates for Downstate Ameren's customers, many Downstate legislators showed their gratitude by refusing to support a mass transit proposal that is funded solely by the Chicago region yet funnels millions to Downstate mass transit districts. Some are professional Chicago haters, others wanted to force Speaker Madigan to agree to a statewide capital plan. Many simply can't understand the importance of public transit because they've never used public transit and don't know anyone who has.
Most legislative Republicans: May have tried to create even more political and governmental chaos for Democrats by refusing to support a transit bailout. Some openly welcomed a CTA "doomsday" scenario, claiming the CTA and RTA were bluffing. Reflexively believed a sales tax increase of a penny on a $4 purchase to fund an absolutely vital service is excessive taxation.
Rank and file Chicago legislators: Perhaps the least to blame, but who are most in danger of voter retaliation during next month's Democratic primaries. Have been slammed by millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded advertising urging them to vote for the transit bailout even though they all supported it to begin with. Have subsequently been inundated with calls, letters and e-mails from angry constituents who don't understand that they are on the same side. They succeeded in forcing Senate President Jones and Gov. Blagojevich to drop their gamesmanship and run the bailout bill without an agreement on more casinos or anything else.
I want to point out this piece of analysis from Capitol Fax today with regards to another issue the rules for the statewide smoking ban...
Legislators are increasingly frustrated with the governor’s excessive power grabs and, as I’ve said before, will likely want to write far more details into their bills to prevent the governor from implementing whatever rules he wants. They could even go back and try to change some statutes to stop him from promulgating new rules as he sees fit.The governor has the privilege of using an amendatory veto. Perhaps a variation of the line-item veto where the governor can strike out certain provisions of a bill or add a provision to a bill. This wasn't the first time I recall him using this power. He did this for the budget that finally passed last fall. He basically veto pork projects of certain members that he most likely wouldn't have support from anyway.
This is a real mess, and is a direct result of a governor who obviously rejects the notion of co-equal branches of government.
When it came across this legislative committee, JCAR, who ruled that he couldn't take this pork and use it for his healthcare iniatives, the governor basically negated this ruling saying that JCAR was only advisory and he didn't have to abide by their ruling. The problem this can cause is that laws might be longer and more complicated in order to make the meanings and intents clearer. This could make legislation even more confusing.