Let’s get back to The First Ward’s roots by covering a couple of stories today.
The silence of the Dems
This scenario certainly doesn’t merit the application of the terms “revolution” or “groundswell,” but two courageous Springfield Democrats did break ranks by insisting the soon-to-be-charged Illinois Speaker Michael Madigan resign!
The opening salvo came from Glen Ellyn State Rep Terra Costa Howard who said, “He [Madigan] must take action now to avoid inflicting further damage on the members of the House and the Democratic Party by resigning as speaker.”
And I thought that pronouncement had fallen flatter than Anthony’s Fauci’s bizarre attempt to get us all to wear goggles until yesterday morning when our own Aurora State Rep Stephanie Kifowit followed suit by delivering quite the strident e-letter.
The final paragraph of that missive to The Speaker reads thusly:
I demand you to do the right thing and step down immediately as Speaker of the House. In the event that you do not, and if you choose to seek nomination to this positions again, I will vote against said nomination and will not vote for should your nomination be successful.
All I can say is, “Good for her!”
I really wanted to say, “You go girl!” but then I’d probably be accused of cultural appropriation, misogyny, sexism, old white male patronization, and generally being a scurrilous cad.
Though she can be almost as irritating as I am at times, I tend to hold Ms. Kifowit in the highest regard because her frequent willingness to speak her mind regardless of the political consequences is beyond refreshing. I may not always agree with what she says, but I respect her capacity to, on occasion, reject the too-typical political platitudes.
But since no good deed ever goes unpunished, some Facebook folks are taking Kifowit to task for not issuing this demand BEFORE the ComEd bribery scandal hit all the front pages.
Yes! There are times I believe Stephanie forgets that she wields far more power to change the system than you or I do, and, on occasion, I’ve duly noted that. But my facility to criticize those in positions of power in no way means I’d ask an elected official to commit political suicide. And calling on The Speaker to resign before the ComEd scandal would’ve amounted to just that.
Furthermore, I’m under no delusion that Mr. Madigan actually will talk away, but with two legislators breaking that say-no-evil inertia, it will be fascinating to see if other Springfield Dems step up.
Meanwhile, despite my ever-so-polite entreaties, our Elgin trio of State Senator Cristina Castro, State Rep Anna Moeller and City Councilman Baldemar Lopez continue to remain quieter than an interracial gay couple who just took a wrong turn into an outdoor Trump rally. So much for Castro’s Joint Ethics Commission being anything more than the worst kind of political window dressing.
But enough about them! Here’s to State Rep Stephanie Kifowit for doing the right thing, particularly when no one’s ever referred to The Speaker as “the forgiving kind.”
A really nice sendoff
If you have the time, I would highly encourage you to read former Illini assistant basketball coach Rus Bradburd’s touching tribute to former head coach Lou Henson, who passed away earlier this week.
It’s the kind of appreciation that makes me wish I’d met the man! But even though that opportunity never presented itself, I certainly watched Illini basketball back then, in great part, because I love watching Lou!
We were all amused by the “Lou-do” combover and his perpetual upbeat energy was more than infections. Even in throes of the toughest March Madness competitions, the man never swore, he never berated his players, he never grabbed a player in anger, and he never publicly railed against the referees no matt how errant they might’ve been.
I particularly enjoyed watching the Illinois-Indiana games during the Henson era simply for the vast coaching style juxtaposition between he and the infamous Bobby Knight.
Lou Henson was the kind of man I long to be, but the Universe was intent on providing me with quite a different set of tools. And though I never had the opportunity to shake his hand, my friend Paul Stukel did! Here’s his recollection:
Lou was a remarkably nice man as well as a helluva coach. He and his family lived about 4 houses down from me in Champaign, on Bedford Drive. His decision to pick this (at the time) humble neighborhood, given what he was making as a head coach, says something. He could have lived amongst the Champaign elite if he wanted, but he went humble.
But what I’ll always remember about him was how he took notice of me practicing shooting on our driveway at all hours of the day. (I was obsessed with basketball and knew I had to practice all the time to overcome my many physical limitations.) I’d be out there shooting free throws again and again and again, and he’d drive by and wave.
Once in a while he’d stop and ask how it was going. Then, one day at his summer basketball camp on campus, he pulled me out of general session and used me to demonstrate to the whole camp how to shoot free throws. It was a little intimidating, but I was proud that he chose me. I’ll never forget that.
Yep, Lou was a really great human being.
Thank you Paul, and rest in peace, Coach!