Friday, December 14, 2007

Back and forth

As frustration over the continued tit-for-tat between the governor and the speaker festers, the public has the added question of whether they can trust the governor and the General Assembly to build new casinos or riverboats without scandal. And can they trust them to distribute the revenue to public services in a fair way? So far, not so good.

House Speaker Michael Madigan tried to cancel session scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, but lawmakers could be called back to Springfield the week before Christmas anyway even if there's no gaming or mass transit plan to advance.

The speaker said in a letter to lawmakers, "In light of certain subsequent developments this week, the legislative process will be better served by holding session on these topics at a later date." Without naming Chris Kelly's federal indictment on tax fraud and illegal gambling announced Thursday, Madigan said in the letter, "The current environment underscores the critical need to create a genuinely independent Illinois Gaming Board," which was supposed to be talked about in Monday's session.

A few minutes after Madigan's letter became public, Gov. Rod Blagojevich's office released this statement: "Sadly, it's not surprising that Speaker Madigan would, at the last minute, cancel a scheduled session to consider a plan to fund the [Chicago Transit Authority]. That unfortunately has been more the rule than the exception over the last three months." The statement also indicates the governor could call a special session for next week. Spokeswoman Abby Ottenhoff said in a follow-up e-mail that the governor's office expects to talk to legislative leaders over the weekend and will be in a better position to talk about timing on Monday.

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