Wednesday, August 08, 2007

A Gentleman Legislator

When somebody first told me last night that Rep. Bill Black wasn't going to run again in 2008, it inexplicably hit me like a ton of bricks. Politics aside, Bill and I have agreed on a lot of things, disagreed on others, but we have always shared a reverence for the institution.

His theatrics have been fodder for journalists and visitors alike, but since I've been here, I've learned to appreciate his mastery of when to tone his rhetoric way up (way way up) or way down in order to achieve his desired result. I've seen him do and say things that wouldn't be tolerated from anybody else, but when they come from Bill, they take on a different character and have a different impact.

Bill's passion for his district has never been contrived. He has steadfastly fought for those issues that matter to the people he represents, and whoever it is that follows him will indeed have a tough standard to measure up to.

But what I admire most about Bill Black is his sincere respect for the process. He knows as well as any of us do that politics is an integral part of the process, but he never lets anybody forget that there is a process, a way of how things are supposed to be done in the Legislature, that is bigger than any of us.

Not a Democrat/Republican process; not a Chicago/Central Illinois/Downstate process; but an obligation to remember that this institution should prevail over the whims or agendas of the men and women who temporarily serve in it.

I sat with Bill in his office today, needing to know what could lead a man whose love for the job is so great to leave it, and I got the one answer that I knew it had to be. His family.

We talked of grandkids, and parents, and the realization that our lives keep ticking by with every passing session. And that the time has to come when you deserve to, need to, put your full focus where it needs to be. That lesson becomes that much clearer in a session like this one, with countless family plans having been canceled. It's no wonder that a number of veteran legislators have said 'enough', and I wouldn't be surprised if there were more to follow.

Many men and women have served in the Illinois House over the years. Only a handful of them have made any meaningful impact. Bill Black is in that handful. I've tried to learn a lot from Bill, and if I've only taken away a fraction of it, I'll be a better legislator for having served with him. The Illinois House is a better place for having had him in it.

9 Comments:

At August 8, 2007 at 12:05 PM, Anonymous pjs said...

Indeed Mr. Black will be missed, I'll let others who know him a lot better expound on his virtues. But I'll suggest that facing the prospect of three more years with this governor, its a wonder anyone is willing to run again. Especially those who work hard within the system for positive change for their constituents. Those are the ones hardest hit, and bound to be the ones most fed up.

 
At August 8, 2007 at 12:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a classy post. Wish there were more guys like you and Black.

 
At August 8, 2007 at 12:38 PM, Blogger Allen Adomite said...

As a former staffer who's spent many hours and days listening to his unique wit and humor, I am greatly saddened to see Bill Black looking at retirement. Not many can cut through the partisanship these days like he can.

We all might not agree with legislators on different issues, but people like Bill Black (and Lou Lang on the other side of the aisle) are truly the oil that keeps the legislative machine running.

 
At August 8, 2007 at 12:38 PM, Blogger Allen Adomite said...

As a former staff person who's spent many hours and days listening to his unique wit and humor, I am greatly saddened to see Bill Black looking at retirement. Not many can cut through the partisanship these days like he can.

We all might not agree with legislators on different issues, but people like Bill Black (and Lou Lang on the other side of the aisle) are truly the oil that keeps the legislative machine running.

 
At August 8, 2007 at 4:34 PM, Blogger steve schnorf said...

Amen!

 
At August 8, 2007 at 5:49 PM, Anonymous stuck in springfield said...

I can't wait to see his theatrics during his 'farewell tour' next session :)

 
At August 8, 2007 at 7:40 PM, Blogger Cook County Cretin said...

And as long as the legislature refuses to address campaign finance reform, that "process" sure looks alot like "pay-to-play" to us common folk.

 
At August 8, 2007 at 9:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

AN OPEN LETTER TO CONGRESSMAN LUIS GUTIERREZ

Dear Congressman Gutierrez, (Luis)

We’ll get to the point quickly – please don’t retire from Congress just yet, there’s work still to do.

Retirement can’t be easy and we know this probably won’t make it any easier, but then again easy has never been your style. You’re a fighter, Luis, it’s what you’ve done, it’s who you are. Whether it was standing with the late Mayor Harold Washington to help bring Chicago out of the stalemate of the Council Wars, or fighting to naturalize hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens, or standing up for the people of Vieques you’re a fighter. And today, the people you fight for, those who often can’t make their voices heard on their own,
need you to stay in the fight and bring home a victory -- and bring home the hope of the American Dream.

As you’ve learned while in the struggle to help pass comprehensive immigration reform in Congress, this isn’t just about Illinois’ 4th Congressional District. In fact, any and all of the leaders who have expressed interest in succeeding you in Congress would represent your district well. But the work that lies ahead requires your brand of leadership and passion.

The people of our great country need you to fight for them; the people of the 4th Congressional District need you to fight for them, here at home, in the halls of Congress and in communities across the country.

And since fights like these are never fought alone,
we’re here to lend our voice, our help and our support. But we need you to stay. We need you to fight. We need you, Luis, in Congress.

Respectfully,

The Honorable Commissioner Joe Berrios, 31st Ward Democratic Organization
The Honorable State Representative Maria Antonia 'Toni' Berrios
The Honorable State Representative Dan Burke, 23rd District
The Honorable Alderman Edward Burke, 14th Ward – City of Chicago
The Honorable
Alderman Tony Figueroa, Waukegan City Council
The Honorable Alderman Billy Ocasio, 26th Ward – City of Chicago
The Honorable Alderman Richard Mell, 32nd Ward – City of Chicago
The Honorable Alderman Ricardo Munoz, 22nd Ward – City of Chicago
The Honorable Alderman Ariel Reboyras, 30th Ward – City of Chicago
The Honorable Alderman Danny Solis, 25th Ward – City of Chicago
The Honorable Alderman Ray Suarez,
31st Ward – City of Chicago
Elvira Arrellano, President – Familia Latina Unida
Freddy Calixto, Executive Director - BUILD
Ruben Castellan, Executive Director – Gads Hill Center
Omar Duque, President & CEO – Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Judy Fried, Executive Director – NICASA
Empe Guerra, Program Director – NICASA
Rory Guerra, Director – The Saints of Humboldt
Park
Joshua Hoyt, Executive Director – Illinois Coalition of Immigrant & Refugee Rights
Marco Jacome, Executive Director – HAS
Emma Lozano, President – Pueblo Sin Fronteras
Eliud Medina, Executive Director – Near Northwest Neighborhood Network
Stewart Munoz, President – Cuban American Chamber of Commerce
Maria Ploch, Executive Director – Latinos En Accion
Anita Rico, Director – Zocalo Urbano
Juan Salgado, Executive Director – Instituto del Progreso Latino
Mary Santana, Executive Director – The Miracle Center
Gina Zuniga-Baldwin, Executive Director – Youth Service Project

 
At August 9, 2007 at 1:51 PM, Anonymous fed up in 4th said...

anon 9:43 - the sentiments for Mr. Black are not for ALL sitting elected officials. Some should retire.

 

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