Its Madigan or nothing these days.
  • Al Podgorski/Sun-Times Media
  • It’s Madigan or nothing these days.

We were having a grand old time of it talking politics at the Hideout—and everyone was almost civil, if not sober—when, of all people, our friend professor Paul Green felt compelled to have the following outburst:

“You’re wrong!”

Usually it’s one of our grumpy old lefty friends who does the bellyaching or storming out at our First Tuesdays shows, but in this case it was Green, a political science professor at Roosevelt University and one of the foremost authorities on Illinois politics.

Just so you know, Mick Dumke and I host our monthly political talk show at a bar on the grounds that it’s generally more enlightening—or at least less depressing—to discuss local politics after you’ve had a few.

Our onstage guests this week—Mary Ann Ahern and Charles Thomas—had already offered their view of things when Green couldn’t resist jumping into the fray.

Specifically, he was provoked when someone in the audience said that house speaker Michael Madigan could not be counted on to protect the masses from the ravages of Governor Rauner’s budget cuts and union bashing.

To which Green opined that, before all is said and done, the lefties and liberals of Illinois will be thanking Speaker Madigan.

For the record, I do not in any way condemn Professor Green for his outburst.

I myself have felt the urge to blurt something out many times in my life. For instance, it was I—the kid in the back row at the old Howard Theater—who exclaimed, “Kick his ass, Shaft!”

The year was 1973. And we were watching Shaft in Africa.

In my defense, I may have been under the influence of Boone’s Farm apple wine, my drink of choice back then.

Back to the Hideout . . .

I’m tempted to agree with Green, especially in light of today’s ruling by the Illinois Supreme Court, in which the judges struck down the so-called pension reform law.

That’s the law where Governor Quinn and the legislators cut state pensions even though the constitution clearly says they can’t.

Now we know—contracts with retired cops, firefighters, teachers, and other geezers really are contracts—just like contracts with bankers.

Apparently, Governor Rauner was hoping to cut billions from pension payments so he could give more tax breaks to corporations.

Now it looks like he’ll have to cut even more programs—a difficult task, as he’s already gone after a program for toddlers with AIDS.

You’d think that a program for toddlers with AIDS would be pretty much sacrosanct. But obviously you underestimate Governor Rauner’s determination to give tax cuts to corporations.

So the question is: Which one of our highest-ranking political leaders will defend us from Rauner’s onslaught?

As we’ve recently seen, Mayor Rahm’s an unreliable ally. Good god, the man would sell his soul for the right to run a casino.

It’s pretty much Madigan or nothing.

As Green pointed out, it’s always difficult to discern exactly what Madigan’s up to. But it’s generally safe to assume he’s all about protecting the incumbency of his caucus members and, thus, his majority.

Governor Rauner made it clear he’s going after those caucus members by passing the hat for some million-dollar contributions from a few of his billionaire friends. The money will go to one of two PACs.

One of those PACs, ILGO, is dedicated to the dubious proposition that it’s in the best interest of Democrats to stand with Rauner while he cuts things like—oh, let’s pick another Rauner cut—funerals for the indigent.

As ILGO says on its website, the PAC will “defend Democratic lawmakers who have demonstrated support for the difficult, yet responsible, choices our state government needs.”

What that probably means is that they’ll bombard voters with mailings castigating Democratic legislators for having voted the “wrong way” on some dumbass legislation that Rauner should have been too ashamed to propose in the first place.

For a textbook example of how this works, here you go . . .

Madigan—being no fool—beat them to the game.

On Wednesday he brought Rauner’s proposed cuts to a floor vote. All the Democrat legislators voted no while the Republicans—afraid of upsetting the governor—voted present.

And we call Chicago’s aldermen wimps?

Afterward, Republican legislators were sobbing—boohoohoo—that mean old Madigan “was trying to get GOP lawmakers on the record to use the roll call votes in future campaign attack ads,” as the Tribune put it.

In other words, hoisted by his own petard!

Or as they said about Shaft—that cat Madigan is a bad mutha . . .

Keep pushing, folks, and we’ll see where this takes us.