Quick Hits – June 23, 2017

Not even Republicans believe him anymore

One of my favorite Left, Right and You guests was former Obama Cabinet member Bill Daley. Not only does Bill have a reputation for telling the truth, but he has an amazing political prognostication track record.

So when bill recently said, “Bruce Rauner cannot win re-election if he does not get a budget right this year. I don’t care who’s running against him,” I thought perhaps Governor Rauner might take note.

Then I made the kind of leap of faith that made me believe he had, and I started foolishly thinking that Bruce’s latest budget offer was sincere.

But it’s not.

It’s just more window dressing to try and make the Democrats look worse than he already does. The truth is, if Speaker Madigan agreed to every last term in that proposal, the Governor would say it wasn’t enough and he’d roll out a completely new budget deal.

How do I know this? Because my Illinois Senate Republican sources told me so. They may toe the party line publicly, but privately, they’ve completely lost faith in Governor Rauner’s capacity to negotiate anything.

There will be no budget, schools will close and Bill Daley will be proven to be correct!


Can’t you take the lead for once, Jim?

The current Springfield special session may be descending into abject meaninglessness, but the pointless finger pointing is clearly on the rise. And my State Senator, Jim Oberweis, seems more than happy to join the it’s-not-us-it’s them fray, because doing the same thing over and over again will eventually produce a different result, right?

But here’s the thing. While the Democrats are politically beholden to the Speaker and the Republicans are terrified of Rauner primarying them, Jim Oberweis is in the unique position of at least attempting to bring an end this absurd budget proxy war.


He’s not running again so Rauner can’t threaten him with an opponent. Even if he changes his mind, Jim has the kind of cash that would beat back any challenger. I know Jim doesn’t like what Springfield has become and he’d much prefer to get something done.

And as a former businessman and successful asset manager, Jim knows that Governor Rauner is wrong and holding the budget hostage to unreasonable demands is bad for the State.

So Jim! You’ve never had a problem telling the truth before. How about calling a spade a spade, standing up for what’s right and doing whatever it takes to get a budget deal  done – even if it means insisting on a meeting with Michael Madigan.

I understand the impulse to stick with the Party, but at this point, what’s the point? Doing the right thing is always its own reward.

Please remember this isn’t a case of the pot and kettle. I’ve stuck my neck out hundreds of times and it can come around to bite you in the butt. But Illinois needs bold men and women right now, not more finger pointing.


David Orr retires?

After 40 long years in Chicago politics, famed Cook County Clerk, David Orr, 72, announced he will not seek an eighth term. Having grown up in south Evanston, I can’t remember a time when David Orr wasn’t part of the political landscape.

I can clearly remember listening to David’s aldermanic anti-Machine exploits on radio news shows in the early 80s. A few years later, I moved into Rogers Park, the heart of Orr’s 49th Ward and my apartment and David’s Ashland office were on the same block.

We had a total of just three conversations, but David always welcomed constituents, you never had to kiss a pinky ring and you could tell he truly enjoyed life. He was a happy guy. We’d discuss the abandoned cars that made parking on Farwell difficult, all the absentee landlords and Chicago politics in general.

Of course, David fully supported Harold Washington’s 1983 mayoral run, and it was when Washington squeaked by Republican Bernie Epton that I learned the true nature of politics.

Pundits said it was the “49th Ward Lake Front Liberals” who put Washington over the top, and soon after he took office, the new mayor made sure that all of those abandoned cars were towed and our streets were paved.

So in a way, I cut my political teeth on Alderman David Orr. With his city council reputation intact, Orr ran for County Clerk in 1990 and he’s served the County in that regard ever since.

And David Orr was so clean, he even rented an apartment near the Clerk’s office so he could “clock out” and discuss impending campaign strategy with his team without the slightest appearance of impropriety.

But my favorite David Orr story involved the late great Pulitzer Prize winning columnist, Mike Royko.

David’s mother Lucille wrote Royko in 1988 decrying his propensity to call all Chicago aldermen “crooks.” “Isn’t it possible that there might be one or two who aren’t,” she implored.

In his inimitable style, Royko responded, “You`re right. There are three or four aldermen who are suspected of being honest and your son is one of them. But as much as I respect your maternal protectiveness, I have to raise this question: If you were a good mother, why did you permit your little boy to grow up to be a Chicago alderman?”

Orr’s name regularly came up as a possibility for mayor, secretary of state, Congress and even the Senate. And even though he could’ve won any of those races, he stuck with county clerk because he said he wanted to have a life, be there for his family and continue coaching.

When David walks away from the often difficult gig in early 2019, it truly will be the end of an era.

Good luck, sir! You were always one of the good guys.

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