Contrary to reports in the Tribune and Daily Herald, Republican state treasurer and gubernatorial candidate Judy Baar Topinka was specific about the main issue separating her from incumbent Democrat Rod Blagojevich at yesterday’s annual meeting of the Metropolitan Planning Council:

When you’re in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging.

Like any well-prepped pol, Topinka knew about arcana dear to her audience, like the CREATE program for rail freight and the still-aborning CMAP (Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning). But she turned each of MPC’s three questions back to rather obvious references to the spend-and-don’t-tax incumbent.


  • Asked about how the state would help local governments plan for growth, she promised a special assistant in her office, but no resources or incentives “until we get the fiscal problems under control.”

  • Asked about capital investments in transportation, she agreed that without them “Illinois will not be first in anything” and promised a systematic assessment of need. But, once again, “We’re not going to hit the credit card again–we are going to pay our way.”

  • Asked about education funding, she again agreed with her audience that Illinois relies too much on local property taxes. But “changing the system will require new state funds that frankly don’t exist today.” Her forthcoming education plan “will be detailed, and whatever we put out,  it will be funded.”

Of course she needs to be held to these promises, and give more specifics. But in the context of the fiscal train wreck that is today’s Illinois state government, could the mainstream media manage to report the unambiguous common thread running through what she did say?

FYI: According to the Trib, Blago was busy meeting with union members in Las Vegas. He’ll give his answers to MPC’s questions September 7 at a location to be determined. With an extra month to prepare, they should be good.