Suburban Political Recount
Ok, attendance at the Republican rally at the Illinois State Fair was modest at best. A couple hundred. Looked like nearly all could have fit on a State Fair tractor trolley.
But they were polite and listened.
The Democrats packed the rally with bused in supporters. But no one seemed to be listening to the speakers. They held up their Obama signs with one hand while talking to the person next to them.
Democrat Day had the feel of a mandatory school assembly.
Republican Day had the feel of a memorial service.
I’ve written numerous stories about Winfield Elementary District 34 and other schools efforts to finally get the school construction money they were promised years ago. On an annual basis the state finds a new way to mess with the nearly two dozen districts on the waiting list.
On Wednesday, two students from the Rochester School District, which is just outside Springfield, decide to go get some answers. Rochester sits atop the construction waiting list.
Here’s their video:
Yesterday, the governor ordered lawmakers into special session beginning at 5 p.m., which meant there'd be a full day for Democrats to attend party rallies including the annual Democratic Day at the Illinois State Fair. And by calling them into session it meant they'd all get $129 in taxpayer money to help with housing and meals.
Republicans were not amused that they had to sit around all day and wait for the festivities to end so the Democrats who control the Capitol could then gavel in the governor's special session.
Peoria Republican state Sen. Dale Risinger may have summed it up best:
“Today's a crock of crap.”
In his own words
Update -- Rod Dickens
State Comptroller Dan Hynes said Illinois is having the best of times with Barack Obama's campaign but the worst of times with its state government. Told of the Charles Dickens imagery, Gov. Rod Blagojevich said this, really.
There's been a lot of attention on what Michigan did with school funding back in the 1990s.
In summary, the state did away with property taxes paying for schools, banned local property tax increases and raised state taxes, making them the source of school funding.
This allowed Michigan to narrow the gap between the have and have-nots and become a role model for progressive education funding.
Then the economy tanked.
In 2005, as so-called "tax swap" plans swirled at the Illinois Capitol, I revisted the Michigan reform and wrote this story:
SPRINGFIELD -- Ten years after Michigan embarked on the nation's most dramatic education funding swap, its state budget is awash in red ink and, as a result, schools there have been forced to close buildings, end programs, and cut staff.
Just got the governor's schedule for the day. At 6 p.m. he's presiding over the State Fair's auctioning of the grand champion rabbit, chicken, lamb, pig and steer. So that leaves three hours to get school funding fixed.
I'm clearing out old files from my digital recorder to make room for upcoming interviews and came across this Blagojevich gem from last year's budget stalemate.
"You can't have give and take if one side isn't willing to propose something they're for or against."
That was in the context of his budget standoff (last year) with Speaker Michael Madigan. Of course today the governor has ordered lawmakers back to the Capitol to address school funding even though he's offered them no plan.
At 3:47 p.m. on Saturday, the following statement went out to media outlets:
Statement from Governor Rod R. Blagojevich
On death of Chicago Southside native, Bernie Mac
Bernie Mac was a native of Illinois and a favorite son. Whether he's in the movies, or on TV, or in Hollywood, Bernie Mac always called Chicago "home". And he never forgot that he was a kid who grew up on Chicago's South Side. Because of his Chicago roots, we picked Bernie Mac to be the face of the state lottery - his passion, enthusiasm and humor helped make that one of our most successful, and funniest, campaigns. My wife Patty and I extend our condolences to his wife Rhonda McCullough, their daughter, Je'Niece, and granddaughter, Jasmine. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.