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Script Gets Flipped on Speaker Madigan PDF Print E-mail
Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 15 November 2015 05:39

“He seems so done with it all,” said one top Republican earlier last week about House Republican Leader Jim Durkin. “He hates this,” said a close Durkin pal not long afterward.

The overtime session’s constant battles with the House Democrats and super-strict marching orders from Governor Bruce Rauner were wearing Durkin down, said some folks who know him. “This summer was pretty nasty,” he admitted to reporters last week.

But that changed by Tuesday. Asked to describe the progress of the previous few days on a scale of one to 10, a cheery Durkin replied, “Eight, nine, 10.” He seemed back on his game.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Michael Madigan clearly had a very bad week.

Beyond the Dog’s Tail: The Marvelously Expressive Mouth PDF Print E-mail
Guest Commentaries
Written by Jean Regenwether   
Friday, 13 November 2015 09:27

The head is one of the leading communication tools a dog will use to let other dogs know what it’s thinking and feeling. The head consists of several body parts and each one is used in conjunction with the others to send the memo about its intentions: the position of the head, what the eyes are doing, the position of the ears, what the dog’s mouth is doing. In a wonderful book by one on my favorite authors, How to Speak Dog, Stanley Coren gives it to us step-by-step. When we learn to put it all together, we can understand what our dogs are telling us.

The mouth of a dog gives plenty of information on how the dog may be feeling. It can tell you if the dog is angry or fearful, if something is interesting, or “Hey, I am totally relaxed.” A relaxed dog will have relaxed facial muscles with the mouth slightly open. Just the simple act of closing that mouth or a slight change in the head position and the dog is telling us it is interested in something else and evaluating the situation.

Voting for the Lesser Evil Is Still a Vote for Evil PDF Print E-mail
Written by Kathleen McCarthy   
Wednesday, 11 November 2015 11:12

At some point, Americans are going to have to square with the resounding failure of our two-party political system by shedding the dysfunctional loyalty most voters have to either a Democrat or Republican affiliation. Why? Because neither party delivers anything resembling representative government any more. We elect politicians whose primary mission is continuity of government at our expense.

The allegiances to the modern American Democrats or Republicans are based on well-crafted illusion, disseminated by corporate media on behalf of the two-party political machine. It is brilliant in its simplicity. As long as voters are polarized, the status quo is guaranteed. What self-respecting Democrat will ever vote for a Republican, and vice versa? Couple this with a stranglehold on the primary system, including nonsensical gerrymandering to protect incumbents, and you have a control grid that is efficient and manageable. (See

The minute voters decide that the candidates presented for election are unacceptable – and as a result cross party lines, or better yet abandon those lines altogether and choose third-party candidates en masse – things will begin to change in a hurry. Americans do not give enough weight to the desperate desire of politicians to be re-elected.

What’s Really at Stake in Public Meeting with Governor, Leaders PDF Print E-mail
Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 08 November 2015 11:34

The concept of a public meeting on November 18 featuring the four Illinois legislative leaders and the governor sounds nice, but will it actually move the ball forward and break the months-long governmental impasse?

As you might know, a group of good-government types recently called on the state’s leaders to sit down and talk about solving the state’s budget issues. The four tops and the governor haven’t met as a group since late May.

House Speaker Michael Madigan quickly accepted and then suggested that the meeting be held in public. The move has quite a few people scratching their heads, because nobody expects anything will be solved while the public is looking on.

So why bother?

A big reason is that the Democrats want the public to see what they’ve been seeing with their own eyes for months. They say the governor walks in, exchanges pleasantries, and then repeats the same basic talking points that he’s been making since April.

Return Doesn’t Justify the Pain on the Turnaround Agenda PDF Print E-mail
Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 01 November 2015 21:16

For months now, Governor Bruce Rauner has said he won’t negotiate a state budget unless his “Turnaround Agenda” demands are met. In the meantime, he has slashed funding for the child-care-assistance program, homeless services have been decimated, mental-health services are going without cash, universities are struggling, and even the Meals on Wheels service for the elderly is cutting back deliveries.

But one of the most important things missing from the debate over that “Turnaround Agenda” is how much money the governor’s proposals would truly save state and local governments. Even for those who support the ideas, is it really worth all this pain?

There is simply no hard, reliable, trustworthy data out there because numbers from both sides of the debate on union-related subjects such as the prevailing wage are so steeped in ideology.

Among other things, the governor is demanding that local governments, including school districts, be allowed to opt out of paying the prevailing wage on construction and other projects. The amount is set by county, and all publicly financed projects must pay those wages. Unions say killing off the prevailing wage won’t save much if any money because productivity will drop when inexperienced, low-wage employees are used to replace trained construction and trades workers.

But just for the sake of argument, let’s say that’s not true.

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