Editorial: Governor, do the right thing
Thursday's 5 p.m. hearing of the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability has the makings of one of those lengthy state government dog-and-pony shows where little is accomplished.
The commission’s only duty is to weigh in on whether Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s plans to move about 100 Illinois Department of Transportation jobs to Harrisburg are a good idea.
The IDOT workers, their union, city of Springfield representatives, Harrisburg representatives and the administration will no doubt go through the motions. They will duel over statistics and the profound effect this move will have on the workers’ lives.
But ultimately, the commission does not have the authority to reverse Blagojevich’s decision. Only Blagojevich has the power to do that. So today, we attempt to appeal to the governor’s better nature.
Some of the strongest arguments against this move can be found in the governor’s own decision not to live in the Executive Mansion and to commute at times between Chicago and Springfield.
Blagojevich told The State Journal-Register in 2003 that his children were his primary consideration when deciding not to live in Springfield.
“If it was just Annie at this age, we’d be in Springfield,” Blagojevich said, referring to his then-newborn daughter. “But it’s Amy, who’s going to be 7 now in August, who’s been in the same school since she was 3. She’s doing well there ... she leads a normal and healthy life, even though her father’s the governor.
“She has her friends there (in Chicago). I just don’t want to be a selfish politician who’s going to disrupt her upbringing because it might be politically more beneficial for me to live in the governor’s mansion.”
Unlike many of our readers, this page does not take issue with the governor’s decision not to live here. We have objected to his poor attendance record during the legislative session, but Blagojevich expressed reasonable concerns about living here full time.
That same year, responding to questions about his daily flights between Chicago and Springfield during the legislature’s annual veto session, the governor said, “I want to go home and kiss my baby. One thing I will not do is sacrifice my values or my priorities. Raising a family and spending time with my children is critical.”
Governor, those flights remain questionable, but we understood the sentiment. These members of our community have the same values as you do. They want to be close to their family and friends here in Springfield. Like you, they want to come home and kiss their children goodnight. They don’t want to be uprooted unnecessarily.
You told this newspaper almost three weeks ago that, “nothing will change in terms of their quality of life, their income and their benefits or their commute to work, to varying degrees.” You told us that you would find them jobs elsewhere in state government.
Short of changing your mind, you should, at the very least, send a representative to tomorrow’s hearing with that promise in writing, over your signature. It will not make anyone buy the case you have made, but it may make people feel a bit more secure.
You often talk about how your administration does things the right way, how you want to represent the little guy. In your heart, you know this is not right, that you are hurting the little guy and that these workers are pawns in some political game being played.
You know that the right thing for you to do is show up in Springfield on Thursday and admit you made a mistake.