Thursday, August 11, 2005

And Thus it Begins...

So the first question posed to me virtually everytime I told somebody that I was going to start a blog was, "Why in the hell would you want to do that for?" Which, when you think about it, is pretty much the right question to ask. First off, it's so much easier not to do this. Secondly, those who know me are acutely aware that I have a strong tendency to speak my mind, even if it is not the most politically expedient thing for me to do. I think it was the second issue that caused the most concern to my friends. Start a blog, they said, and you will inevitably write something that will be thrown back at you in the future. And that concept may in fact hold the very answer to their initial question. I'll get to that in a minute.

I've decided to undertake this endeavor for a number of reasons. First, I wanted someplace to express my thoughts and ideas on a wide range of issues involving politics, policy and the legislative process. More specifically, how the three items intersect and what happens when they don't. Second, I wanted to provide people with a open forum in which they can exchange thoughts with an elected official and hopefully provide readers with a unique perspective on various current events that affect all of us. Maybe most importantly, I wanted to take a step to take down the unnecessary barriers that appear to often exist between electeds and the electorate.

It is easy for public officials to talk about open government, but there still seems to exist an ironic disconnect between government and the people whom it is created to serve. I want to take a step toward repairing that disconnect that no elected official to date has yet to take. Granted it's a singular step, but hey, at least it's a start.

That gets me back to what I was talking about before. It is natural, and actually smart, for all of us to choose our words carefully before we express ourselves. But once you do say something, especially in the public arena, you essentially need to either stand behind it or admit you were wrong. I did that at the end of session when I went on a morning television talk show and apologized for my vote on the pension sweep. (An issue which will come back to bite us on our rear ends in the future, and one that I will probably write about at some point in time.) And while my apology was driven by personal and not political reasons, the aftermath was fascinating. I was contacted by countless people who told me that they strongly disagreed with my vote, but were willing to overlook it because it was so refreshing to hear an honest discussion of the matter. Now, while I don't recommend the exercise as one that should become pattern and practice for anyone, I think that elected officials could learn a lesson from my experience.

People do not expect their electeds to be perfect people, rather they expect them to reflect their views, to work hard, and BE STRAIGHTFORWARD with them. The lines between elected officials and their constituents function best when they are horizontal not vertical. Simply put, we need to speak WITH our constituents as neighbors, not TO them as children. Elected officials often make hard decisions for a variety of reasons, good and bad. Voters can understand this and they can also understand when they are being fed a load of bull. This blog is my way of putting up or shutting up. And yes, I know that there are those that would prefer that I do the latter, but I think that the time has come to step up, encourage some thought-provoking discussion, and listen to the views of those that care to share them here.

So at the end of this initial long premise, where are we at? While I have great hopes for this endeavor, I am simultaneously very realistic that it has the potential to go the way of the Tucker Torpedo. Unable to avoid the trite cliche, the whole of this site can truly be greater than the sum of its parts. That is to say, with a little quality input by a critical mass of people, this can turn into an (almost) self-sufficient entity that vacillates between think-tank and water cooler and barbershop. If, on the other hand, there is not enough interest to sustain this enterprise, than it will devolve into a home for my occasional musings and rants, which will doubtless be a lonely home indeed.

It is my hope to build momentum from now until session, at which time I hope to provide current thoughts and commentary on General Assembly proceedings from ground zero, and to elicit feedback from those affected by our actions in the Capitol. Only time will tell...

Let me set out some of the Dome-icile House Rules. 1) Obviously, I do not presume to speak for anybody other than myself. 2) Anything posted under my name will have been written by me. 3) I will strive to present issues that can be debated and discussed by my readers (assuming there are any). 4) Opposing views will be treated with respect, unless I am absolutely sure that I am right and you are wrong :) 5) Personal attacks on anybody will not be tolerated.

Seriously, I want this to be a place that can be simultaneously informal and intelligent. I also really want this to be a place where people can drop in, read some interesting things and maybe share their two cents worth. I hope that people will respect what I am trying to do here and try to make this experiment a better one rather than try to detract from it. I believe that if this works, it may bring other public officials into the realm of increased communication, and that would be better for everybody.

Welcome to Dome-icile. I hope that you enjoy your visits.

39 Comments:

At August 11, 2005 at 10:37 PM, Blogger wurlygig said...

congratulations on the new blog.


Andy Tidy

 
At August 11, 2005 at 10:45 PM, Blogger Hon. John Fritchey said...

Couldn't have done it without you. Literally.

 
At August 11, 2005 at 11:31 PM, Blogger IlliniPundit said...

Congratulations, and welcome to the 'sphere. That's a great first post, and I look forward to many more in the future.

And if you ever have technical questions, just ask. I've been blessed by assistance from both sides of the partisan divide, and bloggers in general are always very helpful.

And don't worry about readers. You'll have more than you think before you realize it.

But, as I've been long-winded - welcome, and good luck. I think what you're doing is fantastic.

 
At August 12, 2005 at 1:00 AM, Blogger ArchPundit said...

Way cool dude.

Seriously, I'm ecstatic to see the blog and if there is anything I can do to help you out, drop me a note. I'll post on it Friday so others see it.

And add me to the people who respect your admission that the pension deal was a raw deal for taxpayers. I can always live with a mistake if someone lives up to it. Lord knows I make them.

 
At August 12, 2005 at 7:31 AM, Blogger Amy Allen said...

Congratulations, sir.

 
At August 12, 2005 at 8:07 AM, Blogger Dan Johnson-Weinberger said...

Congratulations -- I think this is going to be a great educational forum on how ideas and instincts get transformed into policy on an annual basis in Illinois.

 
At August 12, 2005 at 1:30 PM, Blogger ndpotus said...

Rep Fritchey,

Congrats, I am really looking forward to reading and participating in this forum. I think this is a great idea and takes alot of guts for an elected official to take on...

Way to go...

--NICK

 
At August 12, 2005 at 2:10 PM, Blogger Rich Miller said...

And you're going to allow anon comments? Brave, Fritchey, brave.

Good luck

 
At August 12, 2005 at 2:17 PM, Blogger Hon. John Fritchey said...

I'm opting to have inherent faith in the group. If people mess it up, then I'll adjust accordingly. That would be too bad though because I think that there are a good number of people out there who have worthwhile things to say, but may not want their name attached to it.

 
At August 12, 2005 at 2:19 PM, Blogger DownstatePundit said...

Welcome and Good Luck! Don't forget your readership will be statewide, or should I statelong.

 
At August 12, 2005 at 2:28 PM, Blogger Hon. John Fritchey said...

I'm hope it's statewide. If I just wanted to talk with my neighbors, I could stand on the porch and yell :)

Actually, one of the topics that I want to cover soon is the Chicago/Downstate divide, what it's really about, etc.

 
At August 12, 2005 at 2:51 PM, Anonymous Vasyl said...

Congratulations on the birth of the blog.

I hope that this place does in fact become the type of place you describe. I'm one of those people who would advise elected officials to be cautious about blogging. But I also think that we get better government if we could discuss issues without jumping all over each other for every minute error or boneheaded remark. (Not that I'm suggesting that anything that you say will be boneheaded!)

So I hope you succeed. I'd like to see a place where people can discuss the issues of the day, disagree vigourously, mix it up and leave respecting each other, and maybe even become a little bit wiser.

Check back with you soon.

 
At August 12, 2005 at 3:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congrats. I'm 99% behind you.

The 1%? Please find a different blog name. ugh.

 
At August 12, 2005 at 3:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is "Dome"-icle a reference to Fritchey's impending baldness?

 
At August 12, 2005 at 3:44 PM, Blogger Highland Pundit said...

I'm looking forward to reading your blog. Especially during session!

 
At August 12, 2005 at 4:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always cringe when I see an elected official include the "Hon." before his/her name. It's a sign of respect that others give when writing, introducing, etc. .... but how about changing it to "Rep." Fritchey.

Let us decide if you're "honorable" and ... I bet ... most of us will.

 
At August 12, 2005 at 4:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Obviously you are planning to run statewide...

 
At August 12, 2005 at 4:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fritchey should run for governor. I am amazed at his honesty and boldness. I am far more conservative than Fritchey is but would vote for him on the desire to shake things up.

 
At August 12, 2005 at 4:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hon Jon Fritzhe,

What do you think about a Unicameral Legislature?

What about the legalization of drugs, at least marijuana or at least medical marijuana?

 
At August 12, 2005 at 4:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The Hon." is given (for life) to any elected official, any cabinet or subcabinet level appointee at the state/federal/local level who is confirmed by an elected body (including judges), and certain executive appointments at a similar level (e.g., Condi Rice was The Hon. for being NSA before she was confirmed as SecState even though NSA is not Senate confirmed).

The people who voted for John gave him the title, he didn't.

 
At August 12, 2005 at 4:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What can you do about real property tax reduction and reform?

 
At August 12, 2005 at 5:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To anon. 4:25.

True, the title is earned -- but it's worn much better with some humility.

"Hi, I'm John Fritchey" is a bit softer than "Hi, I'm the Honorable John Fritchey."

 
At August 12, 2005 at 5:41 PM, Blogger Hon. John Fritchey said...

Sad to say, there is nothing impending about my baldness.

Thanks for the other ideas folks. I'm going to try to tackle most everything that's raised, but you'll have to bear with my timing issues.

As far as the use of the honorific is concerned, I agree that it's how it's worn. Those who know me know that I prefer being called by name rather than title, so I never really thought of myself as somebody who flaunted the title. But in this context, I have no problem switching it over.

 
At August 12, 2005 at 5:43 PM, Blogger Rep. John Fritchey said...

Better?

 
At August 12, 2005 at 5:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there where we can get the rundown on what went on in the closed-door caucus meetings?

 
At August 12, 2005 at 6:11 PM, Blogger Rep. John Fritchey said...

While I look forward to giving my perspective on the ebbs and flows of session, caucus meetings are private and I won't violate that provision.

 
At August 12, 2005 at 8:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rep. Fritchey --

Much better; and I'm impressed that you'd take that step.

Not in your district so can't vote -- but I am in your state!

 
At August 12, 2005 at 9:04 PM, Blogger drone1047 said...

You are one of the best legislators around...I look forward to adding your blog to my must read list...best of luck with this experiment, and welcome to the 'sphere...

 
At August 12, 2005 at 9:21 PM, Anonymous Southern Illinois Democrat said...

Congratulations Rep. Fritchey.

I will check your blog out often.

From a friend in Southern Illinois.

 
At August 12, 2005 at 9:28 PM, Anonymous MzChicago said...

All of the very, very best wishes with this incredibly courageous endeavor. We're lucky to have you out there fighting the good fight. Buona Fortuna!!

 
At August 12, 2005 at 9:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rep Fritchey: Welcome to the Web. I've put you on my daily read list to see how you get on. Hopefully we can get the real skinny on why our state is dead last on almost all the lists of things that count with voters.

I've got an answer all ready whenever you pose the "What's up with the IL North vs. IL South citizens" question.
I think I'm qualified to speak since I've lived in both locales.

Good luck with the Dome-icile.

 
At August 12, 2005 at 11:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good Luck.

Todd

 
At August 12, 2005 at 11:26 PM, Blogger respectful said...

Tho not a Democrat, I'm a Fritchey fan who will check in regularly.

 
At August 12, 2005 at 11:52 PM, Blogger Jack Darin said...

Good to see it. In my experience the more the public is interested in their government, the more their government functions in their interest. Tools like this that give people a chance to participate can only help better connect people to the process.

Jack Darin

 
At August 13, 2005 at 7:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know you, but I appreciate what you are doing. How do you feel about the patronage system, and do you think this administration has been above the law and the intent of Rutan?

 
At August 13, 2005 at 7:43 AM, Blogger Tucker McElroy said...

You realize you're not getting paid by the word, right?

 
At August 13, 2005 at 3:49 PM, Anonymous Mongo said...

Representative Fritchey, great start. As others said I really look forward to seeing this during session.

Not that I expect it to be different, but insight during the session is enjoyable and sometimes unusual.

 
At August 13, 2005 at 10:42 PM, Blogger Lundy said...

Glad to see you putting your blog where your mouth is John! Welcome to the blogosphere...

Dave Lundy

 
At August 14, 2005 at 11:19 AM, Anonymous Matthew Duco said...

Good luck representative.

 

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