Good Dem, Bad Dem
After three years of trying to block the pay to play ban, Governor Blagojevich nevertheless now finds it sitting on his desk, staring at him, all but begging him to sign it. So as the clock continues to run down on the Governor's time period in which to act, the burning question is NOW WHAT?
I'm guessing that I know part of the answer (read below), but first, a quick refresher.
HB824, formerly HB1, addresses one issue and does so very well. It is the product of countless negotiations between countless parties and simply put, would end pay to play in Illinois. The bill passed both chambers unanimously, is supported by almost 90% of Illinoisans (what the other 10% are thinking is simply beyond me), and has been hailed by every editorial board across the state.
So intent was the Legislature that the bill be signed into law as is, that the linchpin of the final negotiations was an agreement that both chambers would move to override any partial or total veto of the bill.
But 'so what', says the one-man Legislature called Rod. The Governor has indicated repeatedly that he intends to 'improve' the bill.
Never mind that he has had 6 years to pursue any semblance of a reform agenda (but hasn't), he wants to use this bill as an vehicle of change.
Never mind that if the Governor was sincere about severing the ties between campaign contributions and the awarding of state contracts, he could have followed the lead of every other constitutional officer in the state and ended the practice by Executive Order (but hasn't again).
He wants to improve the bill now. Um, okay.
Let me be clear, as I have said in the past, there are plenty of issues that still need to be addressed by the General Assembly. Rep. Osterman has a bill pending that would implement limits on campaign contributions. Sen. Raoul has legislation addressing the issue of funding of judicial elections. I have a bill pending that would provide for increased lobbyist disclosures and reforms. To assist with the passage of these bills, the Governor's office has done, well, nothing.
But next week, buckle your seatbelts and get ready for the return of...The Reformer! With one fell swoop, Governor DoRight is going to show the Legislature and the rest of the state how to clean up state government. (And I'm sure that along the way, the Governor (the man that has taken almost $500,000 from the payday loan industry, making him their number one beneficiary by a mile) will trot out the bunk that I (the recipient of a Leadership Award from the Monsignor Egan Campaign for Payday Loan Reform) am a paid lobbyist for the payday loan industry. For the record, the fact is that I performed legal work as a land use attorney to establish a pawn shop in Little Village, a project that had support from the local community. Details, details.)
But if I'm right about what's coming, here's the part that really adds insult to injury. There is little to no doubt that the Governor is going to AV the bill. And there is little to no doubt that his actions will result in widespread criticism. So what do you do if you're the Governor?
I'm guessing that you AV the bill while everybody is focused on the Democratic Convention, while most of the major political reporters who are familiar with the story are half a country away, and while stories of Barack's nomination are taking up most of the media space. I'll even predict a Thursday or even Friday announcement of his action, so as to provide for maximum story burial potential, under the shadow of Barack's acceptance speech.
So while many Illinois Democrats hope to ride Barack's coattails, it looks like the Governor will try to hide behind them. It may be a good political move, but a profile in courage it isn't.