Last Friday, the Northwest Herald ran an editorial comprised mainly of a column by former State Rep. Jim Nowlan, who ran as Governor Richard Ogilvie’s Lt. Governor in the unsuccessful 1972 campaign.
Nowlan ended up a political science professor.
Along the way he headed up a couple of state departments for Govenror Jim Thompson.
So, he knows a lot about state government.
The Herald is impressed with the description of how powerful House Speaker Mike Madigan is.
Nowlan tells of a time when every bill had a chance.
That was the case in 1973, my first year in Springfield.
The power then was more decentralized than it has been since.
House Speaker Bob Blair, who had served on term, had to make a lot of concessions to get a second term.
He had been pretty dictatorial and his GOP opponent was Henry Hyde.
How decentralized were things?
The Chairman of the Appropriations Committee got to hire his own staff.
Now, they are under the thumb of the Speaker and Minority Leader…as are all staff members.
No longer can state representatives dissatisfied by their secretaries run ads, as I did, saying,
“”Not your typical state job. You’ll have to work.”
I received one outraged phone call from a state employee, but I found the recently-deceased Dorothy Hoffman, just divorced, who really did want to work. (And, she did.)
Now, if you displease your leader, you could lose your secretary.
Under Democratic House Speaker Bill Redmond, I even passed a motion to overrule the Chair (Ted Lechowicz at the time).
No chance of that under Madigan.
His members don’t dare displease him.
The Herald echoes Nowlan’s truism that for real reform in Springfield, the House Rules need to be changed.
What the editorial writer ignores is the donkey in McHenry County.
State Rep. Jack Franks has voted for Mike Madigan for speaker nine times.
He has voted for whatever rule changes that Mike Madigan put forth nine times.
The Herald, however, does connect the dots.
Jack Franks is part of the problem that Jim Nowlan, the Herald and anyone with a teeny-tiny understanding of how Springfield works already knows.
The Herald talks a good game when it says,
“One of the most important issues, we believe, is whether they support changes in the House rules so rank-and-file members have more power to solve Illinois’ festering problems.”
But it still runs interference for Jack Franks on its front page rather regularly.
And, that, of course, just helps Franks get through another election so he can vote to ratify Mike Madigan’s dictatorial rules.