Monday, August 27, 2007

Not So Fast

Just when you thought that it couldn't get any stranger, this happens. The Governor has now gone to court to force Speaker Michael Madigan to hold special sessions when the governor calls one. The gist of the suit is that the Governor wants a judge to tell the Speaker to quit telling members not to come to Springfield when there's nothing for them to do. I swear I'm not making this up.

The suit strikes me as the equivalent of a kid telling his mom to tell his brother to quit calling him names.

Without even reviewing the relevant case law, I will tell you that I think that the suit has more holes in it than Bill Buckner's glove. The Speaker has no more authority to force members to stay home than he does to compel them to appear in Springfield.


In a brave defense of the suit, Rebecca Rausch pontificated that:
"It is imperative that (the governor's authority to call special sessions) is preserved and honored," she wrote in an e-mail to sj-r.com. "After lawmakers failed to follow the governor's special session proclamations to address serious issues like funding for the CTA, RTA, and downstate mass transit, we asked the court to confirm the governor's authority."
Hmmm, sounds reasonable enough. Until you look at the Special Sessions that the Governor has called so far this year:
  • Aug. 13, 2007 Chicago Transit Authority funding
  • Aug. 12, 2007 One-month budget, health protection grants
  • Aug. 12, 2007 Statewide transit funding
  • Aug. 11, 2007 One-month budget, community health centers
  • Aug. 5, 2007 One-month budget, home health program
  • Aug. 4, 2007 One-month budget, renal disease program
  • July 30, 2007 One-month budget, hemophilia program
  • July 28, 2007 One-month budget
  • July 11, 2007 Gun legislation, assault weapons
  • July 10, 2007 Budget for supportive living program
  • July 9, 2007 Grants for sexual assault victims, prevention
  • July 8, 2007 Teachers and Judges Retirement Systems
  • July 7, 2007 State Retirement System funding
  • July 7, 2007 Child Support Administrative Fund
  • July 6, 2007 Pension funding
  • July 5, 2007 Pension funding
  • July 20, 2004 Abstinence Education Program
  • July 19, 2004 Teen Parent Program
  • July 16, 2004 New Americans Initiative
  • July 15, 2004 Trauma Center payments
  • July 14, 2004 Team Illinois program
  • July 13, 2004 Family Care fund
  • July 12, 2004 Children’s Place program
  • July 9, 2004 Pre-natal programs
  • July 8, 2004 Community youth programs
  • July 7, 2004 Homeless youth programs
  • July 6, 2004 Domestic violence programs
  • July 2, 2004 Fee-for-services initiatives
  • June 28, 2004 Department on Aging budget
  • June 27, 2004 Department of Natural Resources budget
  • June 26, 2004 Environmental Protection Agency budget
  • June 25, 2004 Transportation budget
  • June 24, 2004 Law enforcement, human services budgets
  • With a couple of minor exceptions, not worth noting here, while the Governor was quick to call these special sessions, he never actually thought about having anything for the Legislators to do once they got there.

    Take the mass transit funding issue for example. A number of legislators (myself included), unions, transportation advocates and interest groups have supported SB572 as a prudent means of not only avoiding a transit funding crisis, but of providing reform and accountability for years to come. In fact, it's safe to say that it is the only substantive proposal with any tangible support on the table.

    The Governor's response? "I'll veto it." His alternative that he wanted to have a special session about? Um, none.

    You see, the whole idea of having a special session is to actually deal with a critical issue, like, oh, I don't know, mass transit funding, a capital bill, a BUDGET. You know, things like that.

    But to call one solely as a means of trying to wear legislators down into submitting to unsupported legislative initiatives bastardizes the process to no end.

    The Governor is right, the concept of special sessions is being blatantly abused - but not by the Legislature.

    22 Comments:

    At August 27, 2007 at 5:03 PM, Anonymous schroedk said...

    Has the "governor" ever won a lawsuit that he's been involved in over the past five years? Maybe he flunked statistics too, and he thinks that the more lawsuits he loses, it'll raise the chances of his winning the "big one" (i.e., when he's indicted).

     
    At August 27, 2007 at 5:53 PM, Anonymous fedup dem said...

    Representative Fritchey, I think it's time for Speaker Madigan to call back at least one of those Special Sessions so that the House can do the right thing and begin Impeachment proceedings against your sociopathic constituent. whether you choose grounds of Abuse of Power or mere Insanity, it doesn't really matter to me. Just get rid of this clown, ASAP, before he does further damage to the state!

     
    At August 27, 2007 at 6:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Let me get this straight, the Gov is upset that someone (Madigan) disregarded his authority. What about when he (the Gov) disregarded the authority of the Federal Government and bought the flu shots. Remember!!!!

     
    At August 27, 2007 at 7:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Rep Fritchey:

    Do you support SB572? As a CTA rider, I am happy to see a serious attempt at finally funding transportation, but why must it be done at the expense of the City? My sales taxes AND my real estate taxes go up and all the benefits seem to go to Metra and Pace.

     
    At August 27, 2007 at 7:40 PM, Anonymous So Blue Democrat said...

    I agree with fedup dem. Additionally, why isn't the Senate included in the lawsuit? Didn't they also ignore some of the special sessions? Again, he is acting like a spoiled brat! At least I did not vote for him the second time.

     
    At August 27, 2007 at 10:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    John --

    Doesn't the House have sole authority to bring impeachment proceedings? When are you filing your resolution?

     
    At August 27, 2007 at 11:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Even though the Governor is acting stupid you Rep. Fritchey and all the other elected officials in Springfield are paid to do a job.
    I don't care if you sit in Springfield for a month doing nothing we the people pay you to be in Springfield.

     
    At August 28, 2007 at 9:57 AM, Anonymous Constituent Sara said...

    John,

    For once I actually agree with the Governor, in a sense. Where is the House when we transit riders need it? Get back to Springfield and pass transit funding. We share your frustration with Blagojevich, but believe me, all our rage will turn to you if our fares go to $3.

    Sara

     
    At August 28, 2007 at 10:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    So, we should impeach the Governor because legislators wanted to skip sessions so they could go home or on vacations?

    Makes PERFECT sense to me!

     
    At August 28, 2007 at 10:21 AM, Blogger Rep. John Fritchey said...

    Sara,

    A number of us have sponsored SB572 which would address the critical issue of mass transit funding.

    You agree with the Governor? He's said that he'd veto the bill. To make matters worse, as I said in my post, he's offered no alternative means by which we can avert the crisis.

    So if fares go to $3, you can look to him, not the House.

     
    At August 28, 2007 at 10:50 AM, Anonymous former minion said...

    Anon 10:14,

    What are you missing here? The legislators have been saying that they WANT to do their jobs!

    The Governor has been calling them into special session with NOTHING for them to do.

    The idea behind a special session is that it is used to convene the legislature to address a specific issue. It is not supposed to be used as a means of holding them hostage and wasting taxpayer dollars. And that's only PART of why he should be impeached.

     
    At August 28, 2007 at 11:54 AM, Anonymous Commonsense in Illinois said...

    The Bill Buckner Fan club wishes to protest the use of his good name in any comparison to the governor. Thank you.

     
    At August 28, 2007 at 1:19 PM, Anonymous lake county democrat said...

    Lost in the silliness: the Dems, in complete control of the state government, passed a very timid budget, made even more timid by the Governor in the name of fighting "pork". But in the Governor's defense, he did propose a budget with major health care and education initiatives and it was shot down. The person who pushed the far more modest budget has a huge personal conflict of interest, one that goes completely undiscussed by the House Dems who made him their leader. Nobody comes off looking good here.

     
    At August 28, 2007 at 2:04 PM, Anonymous This Guy said...

    Pardon the length, but here is the verbatim (copied/pasted) section on impeachment:

    SECTION 14. IMPEACHMENT
    The House of Representatives has the sole power to
    conduct legislative investigations to determine the existence
    of cause for impeachment and, by the vote of a majority of
    the members elected, to impeach Executive and Judicial
    officers. Impeachments shall be tried by the Senate. When
    sitting for that purpose, Senators shall be upon oath, or
    affirmation, to do justice according to law. If the Governor
    is tried, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court shall
    preside. No person shall be convicted without the concurrence
    of two-thirds of the Senators elected. Judgment shall not
    extend beyond removal from office and disqualification to
    hold any public office of this State. An impeached officer,
    whether convicted or acquitted, shall be liable to
    prosecution, trial, judgment and punishment according to law.
    (Source: Illinois Constitution)

    Looks like the Senate president couldn't solely say "no way" to it if it happened. Hmm....

     
    At August 28, 2007 at 2:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Have at it John. Until all of the Dems step up and call the man on his self-aggrandized agenda the State will suffer for years to come. He has made a mochary of our constitution and the three branches of Illinois government all for his practice of enhancing or exaggerating one's own importance, power, or reputation. Leadership, as Sen. Durbin said on WGN radio, needs to take hold.

     
    At August 29, 2007 at 3:43 PM, Anonymous webster said...

    Rep Fritchey,

    A comment on your response to Sara's question about transit funding.

    I have heard that there are not enough votes in the house to pass SB 572. So is it really the governor we'll blame?

    Yeah, the vote deficit is largely due to the lack of support from the Republican side of the asile. But guess what? We live in Chicago and don't get to vote for those guys. We do, however, get to vote for you. And we will not be happy if these cuts and fare increases happen.

    WEA

     
    At August 29, 2007 at 4:32 PM, Blogger Rep. John Fritchey said...

    Webster,

    Understood, but at the same time, part of the role of Governor, a large part, is to lead. I think that that would encompass either helping us find votes on this critical issue, or working with everybody to craft an alternative proposal.

    He's said that he is against the proposal supported by all of the other Chicago-area electeds. It would be more helpful to know what he is for.

     
    At August 29, 2007 at 7:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Why should the Gov take the lead in finding votes for a bill he did not craft or that he does not support?

    I am disgusted by this CTA bailout. Again, the suburbs are not getting their fair share, even though there has been some effort, we still cut up short.

    Why doesn't the CTA raise their fares or why doesn't the City of Chicago raise taxes.

    It doesn't seem right that suburbanites are being asked to foot the bill for such a patronage machine as the CTA. Not even all of the collar counties have a seat on the RTA Board.

     
    At August 29, 2007 at 7:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Why should the Gov take the lead in finding votes for a bill he did not craft or that he does not support?

    I am disgusted by this CTA bailout. Again, the suburbs are not getting their fair share, even though there has been some effort, we still cut up short.

    Why doesn't the CTA raise their fares or why doesn't the City of Chicago raise taxes.

    It doesn't seem right that suburbanites are being asked to foot the bill for such a patronage machine as the CTA. Not even all of the collar counties have a seat on the RTA Board

     
    At August 30, 2007 at 8:43 PM, Anonymous stop whining said...

    Anon, presumably you are from one of the collar counties that the Auditor General found is subsidized by Cook County. If you would prefer to secede from the RTA, go right ahead. But that would kill the golden goose that has exported billions (yes with a "B") of our tax dollars to continue expansions of service that serve no one but a few politically connected developers because most collar counties (Kane, McH, Will, some of Lake) are not dense enough to support meaningful transit.

    Rep. Fritchey, do you think that 572 stops that drain of my/our resources? Check again.

     
    At September 1, 2007 at 11:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    "Stop Whining" clearly has no sense of the population shifts and trends in our region.

     
    At September 5, 2007 at 10:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Hmmm sociopath Look up criteria for narcissist. You can say yes to almost all criteria for our governor.
    Grounds for impeachment - our governor ( a lawyer ) has lost million of dollars in state funds by his unilateral actions and subsequent law suits. FOI law suits with the states own attorney . Flu shot purchase, donation and the legitimate expectation of payment by the manufacturer. Law suits fighting faulty legislation against the video industry.Law suits against his play-for-pay hiring practices. Law suits over his emergency contraceptive order ( pharmacies have been follow his " executive order " years before he every put it in writting.The only issue is forcing pharmacist to dispense when they are absolutely ethically opposed. (when millions more have has been wasted the courts will find pharmacist can refuse for ethical grounds as long as they can back it up with proof )His law suits because of sweeps of what the public thought were dedicated fund ( specialty licence plates etc )
    Further unilateral waste include his travel expenses. Article V section 1. of constitution-The Executive Branch shall include a Governor, Lieutenant
    Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, Comptroller
    and Treasurer elected by the electors of the State. They
    shall keep the public records and maintain a residence at the
    seat of government during their terms of office. What exactly is the states standard for residence by any reasonable standard its not being met.
    Ethical grounds - our governor has moved beyond spin and political posturing. He is openly and blatantly misleading the public. Not spin and not being truthful. His e-mail/letter to state employees indicating that Hynes had the right to pay employees. He can't have it both ways.He refused to release school funds because he said it wasn't yet appropriated by law. Proof that he knows funds must be appropriated and proof in witting that he was intentionally misleading state employees. Your own comments indicate that he was not truthful about his special sessions. Open and blatant dishonesty are grounds for impeachment
    His end run around the constitution he is planning to appropriate funds for health care or engaging in actions wantonly and unilaterally that will incur known and significant costs to the state without funds to pay for them. An individual doing this would be guilty of fraud... He's guilty of pursuing an unbalanced budget. Rolling over cost to the following year would be another untruth and expecting the state to pay for it is appropiating - illegal for the executive branch.

     

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