Saturday, June 13, 2015

Short History of Oak Park, Vol. 2, The Donald and the Clothes Horse: Senatorial splendor, House Decoration -- the Town Hall Trail, June to October, 2013

The Donald of Oak Park, its senator in Springfield, where he's high in the ranks of the Ruling Party and is smooth-as-silk boss of Oak Park's Democratic Party organization, took to the podium at Oak Park's Carleton Hotel on a glorious day in late June of 2013 for his annual report to the Business and Civic Council. 

It was time to explain things to bankers, business owners and operators, and other issues-aware citizen consumers and taxpayers with skin in the game to varying degrees and/or psychic income from allegedly progressive political victories and enactments.

The state was in a state of turmoil, confusion, and all-around hyperactivity. The two legislative chambers were at odds over a pension solution. The governor, a one-time gadfly with Oak Park roots, was soon to cut off legislators' pay checks to punish them for inactivity.

For the Donald, however, it was what-me-worry time. "The sky isn't falling," he intoned, no matter what Republicans said. Falling or not, government had been "cut to the bone" to keep it from doing so. 

Pension payments, where his votes are, not fiscal problems that threaten far more than pensions, were the issue. Illinois "has never missed a pension and never will," he said. Saving the state, fending off mediocrity for all and sundry except the very well-to-do? Not the issue.

The long haul had no appeal. In the long run, we'll all be dead, he might have said, echoing Lord K., the apostle of deficit spending. Focus on the immediate particular, in this case the budget, his comfort zone. One just passed paid the pension for the coming year. He was comfortable with what he and his fellows might achieve in the immediate future. Leadership here, vision too. Yay.

Legislators "kind of solved the pension problem with the 2010 reform" anyhow, he said with a small grin. Yes, the 2010 reform. It tightened benefits for new hires and left the pension only partly funded. ("'Tain't funny, McGee," Fibber's wife Molly used to say on the radio.)

Don't blame Democrats who run the show but couldn't agree on how to fix pensions. It was a matter of "honest, principled differences." Oh those honest, principled Democrats. When will we see such another? Their differences were enough to bring things to a halt, but not to worry, sky not falling.

-- to be continued --