What does Gov. Pat Quinn suggest we do about the Mike Madigan problem?
Of all the questions that have been asked so far in this campaign for governor, that may be the most important, yet it goes unaddressed.
Madigan was first elected speaker of the House in 1983 and, with the exception of two years 1995-96 has served in that position since.
As the leader of the Illinois Democratic Party, he has become the most powerful politician in the state. He tells governors what they can and cannot do.
Most important, the people of this state have no ability to influence Madigan because he is elected to the House easily from a overwhelmingly Democratic district on Chicago’s Southwest Side and elected speaker by Democratic House members — who understand that his ability to raise money, put campaign workers in the field and influence legislation can make or break their political careers.
When I talk with people about this campaign for governor, they rarely talk about Quinn or Republican candidate Bruce Rauner’s abilities. What they tell me is that they want change in Springfield because they’re tired of Madigan’s control of the state.
I do not believe Madigan is as evil as his critics contend. But when one person accumulates as much power and influence as he has over three decades, that is not a good thing.
The question of what to do about Madigan is technically not part of the governor’s job description.
In fact, the branches of government executive, legislative and judicial exist to help ensure that no one branch and no individual can get too powerful. So, in a perfect world, you would want a House speaker who could stand up to a governor.
Madigan may not get enough credit for his battles with Gov. Rod Blagojevich during a corrupt administration that may have been the worst in Illinois history.
But Illinois has a Madigan problem because the public has come to view him as the embodiment of all that is wrong with the state.
The billions of dollars in pension debt amassed by this state were accumulated while Madigan was at the helm of the House.
He alone is not to blame, but he played an integral role and remains unaccountable for a financial sword that continues to hang over the heads of every taxpayer in Illinois.
Rauner has proposed term limits as a way of getting rid of Madigan. Quinn came up with that idea long ago, and, like Rauner, discovered that the Illinois Supreme Court finds such referendums in conflict with the state constitution. More…