Doug Finke: Only one thing on governor's mind: capital projects
-The Rain Man strikes again.
Gov. ROD BLAGOJEVICH visited flood-stricken areas of western Illinois last week to survey damage and offer assistance to the areas and reassurance to the people living there. Nothing wrong with that. It’s expected of a governor.
But, of course, the single-minded Blagojevich can’t just leave it at that. And the singlemost thing on his mind right now is passing a public works construction bill through the General Assembly. So the governor used the flooding as justification to promote the capital bill.
In the Quincy area, Blagojevich talked about the state having a responsibility to help people affected by the flooding, including farmers whose crops were wiped out.
“Here it goes to the question of the capital jobs program,” Blagojevich said. “I think again we are in such a strong position to get it passed anyway, because virtually everybody is for it except for one major player. We don’t need to delay anymore. We need this infrastructure bill. We need it for a lot of reasons, and the flooding is another reason.”
Geez, don’t the people living in that area have enough problems trying to save their homes and property? Now they’re going to be just some more pawns in the on-going snit between Blagojevich and House Speaker MICHAEL MADIGAN, D-Chicago, that’s kept a capital bill from passing and probably will for the foreseeable future.
-For a couple of weeks now, the Blagojevich administration has been organizing dog and pony shows around the state to pump up support for the capital bill. They generally star Rep. JAY HOFFMAN, D-Collinsville, Blagojevich’s floor leader in the House, and a bunch of local lawmakers from both parties to show that there is bipartisan support for the plan. Toss in some local labor leaders and some local mayors or other elected officials for good measure. Then dangle in front of the cameras a long list of projects that could (repeat, could) be done in the area if a capital bill passes, and let the show begin.
It was the Springfield area’s turn last week. The site was Breckenridge, a tiny community along Illinois 29 between Springfield and Taylorville. Why there? Because that’s where the highway is still only two lanes, and the capital plan, naturally, promises to make it four lanes. Well, at least the press release promised that, and as you may be aware, a press release from the governor’s office is pretty much an iron-clad legal document.
These stunts are a continuation of the tactics used by Blagojevich before. Run around the state promoting some program or other and expect that to make Madigan and other lawmakers cave into the pressure. Hasn’t worked before, and there’s no reason to think it will now.
-Attending last week’s event was Sen. LARRY BOMKE, R-Springfield, who has called for Blagojevich’s impeachment. Curious, then, that he helps promote a bill desperately sought by the governor at an event organized by the governor’s office.
“My differences with the governor don’t mean I don’t support a capital plan,” said Bomke, who voted for the plan in the Senate.
Missing from the group was Rep. GARY HANNIG, D-Litchfield. That’s also curious since just about every other lawmaker from the area was at this thing, including Hannig’s senator, DEANNA DEMUZIO, D-Carlinville.
Blagojevich’s people said they talked to Hannig’s office and were told Hannig would be unable to attend. Speaking from his home while the event was going on, Hannig said he wasn’t invited. Maybe the invitation got lost in the mail.
Or maybe it all has something to do with Hannig being Madigan’s top budget negotiator and Blagojevich not really liking Madigan very much. Here’s Hannig’s take. Remember, he said he wasn’t invited.
“They must think I’m in the tank with the speaker, which would be a mistake,” Hannig said. “I could vote for a capital bill if there’s enough in it for me.”
So far, he said, he hasn’t seen enough.
-Memo to Blagojevich’s staff: For future listings of Springfield projects, the airport is called the Abraham Lincoln Capital (with an “a”) Airport. The building where your boss is supposed to work is known as the Capitol (with an “o”).
Please make a note of it.
Doug Finke can be reached at email@example.com.