Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Golden Rule exemption

Deanese Williams-Harris offered the following observation:
On stage, Gov. Rod Blagojevich repeatedly campaigns for his health care initiatives as following the Biblical Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Behind the stage, however, the governor uses a different approach, particularly when in Springfield.

He took the stage at Springfield’s Prairie Capital Convention Center Tuesday afternoon, speaking to a crowd of Illinois’ nurses to promote his Illinois Covered health insurance plan for all adults. He said “powerful forces” attack the way he plans to fund the program and accused the opposition of “having friends in high places” and “wanting to keep the system as it is.”

Once off stage, the governor briefly stopped to take pictures with some supporters. But a scene erupted when reporters approached the governor to ask questions, and things escalated when two of the governor’s security detail grabbed a newspaper reporter by both of his arms. The reporter called out, “Governor, do you see what your goons are doing to me?” and demanded the guards take their arms off of him.

Blagojevich, who clearly had no intentions of addressing the media after the event, flashed a deer-in-the-headlights look as other reporters started shouting out questions. He was in such a hurry to get into his black SUV that he closed the car door in Sen. Carol Ronen’s face before the Chicago Democrat could hop in. She started knocking on the window. The governor’s entourage finally let her in before driving off, but not before another reporter prompted the governor to at least put on his seatbelt.

Chicago PEOPLE in the news
Ron Huberman is the new board president of the Chicago Transit Authority, as recommended by Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. Huberman replaces Frank Kruesi, who resigned after more than nine years as the agency’s chief executive officer and shortly after the agency asked the General Assembly for billions of dollars.

In a March report, Auditor General William Holland’s office said the Chicago Transit Authority joins the Regional Transportation Authority, Metra and Pace in “facing a serious financial shortfall,” and it doesn’t bring in enough revenue to cover current operations and replacement of aging buses and rail cars. The report also said the CTA’s retirement plan is “severely underfunded and its condition is worsening” and that the whole mass transit system needs an overhaul.

The Chicago Transit Authority wholeheartedly agreed and backed a campaign for the state legislature to help pay for a five-year plan needing $10 billion in new capital funding and $400 million more a year for operating costs.

Huberman served the past two years as Daley’s chief of staff, and he previously served as executive director of the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications. The mayor’s new chief of staff is Lori Healey, the city’s former planning and development coordinator. She previously chaired the Chicago Housing Authority and became the first deputy commissioner of the city’s tax increment financing program (see our Q&A with her in Illinois Issues, October 2006, p. 40).

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