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Weyermuller: Thinking about Mike Madigan’s City Club Speech

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By Mark Weyermuller - 

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan made a rare public policy address at the City Club of Chicago this past Wednesday held at the University Club downtown.  The City Club of Chicago is a non-profit, non-partisan organization whose members include prominent business, civic and government leaders in Chicago.

He spoke for just under 19 minutes and then took nine written questions from the audience of about 350 people in an event that sold out in seven minutes. You could say he beat Donald Trump who spoke to to the same group earlier this year which sold out in just ten minutes.  Headline could be "MADIGAN BEATS TRUMP BY 3 MINUTES."

The headline is most media was that the Speaker wants to raise to state income taxes to solve the budget impasse, which some call a budget crisis. Madigan also indicated he wants to raise taxes on millionaires but made no mention of any spending cuts.

The Speaker mentioned four areas of possible compromise on the budget impasse. They were collective bargaining, prevailing wage, workers compensation and a property freeze, but he indicated he wanted "Moderation, not the extreme." The thought is Madigan feels Governor Bruce Rauner's "Turnaround Agenda" is "extreme," not moderate.

Some highlights of his speech included a theme of blame towards Republican Gov. Rauner for not compromising. There was no mention of the ongoing devastating pension mess, nor any proposed solutions. Many feel without a large pension reform or reduction, no solution can be found short of the state declaring bankruptcy.  The Republican comptroller was mentioned a couple of times, but not by name. There was no mention of the treasurer, who is a Democrat.

The second question Madigan took during the audience Q & A was why state has lost jobs and population as shown from losing congressional seats while Madigan has been speaker. The moderator, Professor Paul Green, stepped in indicating that congressional seat loss had to with population and told the speaker to skip that part of the question. Madigan gave no answer to this question on loss of Illinois jobs and population. He did go on to give a short dissertation of the history of the U.S. Government since President Roosevelt when he got more involved in controlling the economy. He felt it was his job to help increase wages for workers.

There was no mention of why Illinois is losing population which some feel is high crime, poor schools, high taxes, over regulation, and lack of jobs. In addition, a quick review of other main stream media coverage is nobody else mentioned this important question in their stories. I could find no discussion of Illinois losing jobs and population possibly due to Madigan's long tenure and Democratic policies over the past 30 years.

Madigan got in a slam against Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. He indicated Walker privatized one Wisconsin state agency then allegedly received a campaign contribution from the new vendor. He said that was why privatization often does not work. Madigan made no mention of his campaign contributions nor his law firm's involvement of doing property tax appeals, however.

One of the few funny moments  of the very serious speech was during one of the introductions from James "Skinny" Sheahan who was promoting the Polar Plunge to benefit Special Olympics in Chicago.  Sheahan thanked Madigan for bringing the warm weather with him, which brought a large laugh from the audience.

Everyone knows how powerful Michael Madigan is in Illinois, but can he really control the weather?

Governor Bruce Rauner has been invited to the City Club of Chicago but has not accepted as of yet.

Don't take my word on Speaker Madigan's speech, listen to it at this link: http://www.cityclub-chicago.org/videos/detail/1064/illinois-budget-impasse

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