Late budget and bad behavior mean recall power needed

By Bill Miston

Blagojevich, thanks for finally signing the budget, but it still doesn’t diminish the consequences of your fractious political actions during the past three months – damaging not only Democrats and Republicans in Springfield, but us, their constituents. Your actions have caused budget cuts for our public transportation systems and most near and dear to our hearts, underfunding state schools.

And now that you are back in Chicago and everyone has hit the showers, the taxpayers are the ones left paying the players’ overtime, along with washing the uniforms and jockstraps.

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Because the governor required lawmakers to work seven days per week rather than the regular three until a budget was passed, it cost taxpayers more than $210,000 per week, according to Senate Republicans. Additionally, because Blagojevich insists on living in Chicago and not in Springfield, each daily round trip costs taxpayers nearly $6,000. At one point, Blagojevich did not attend the special overtime session of the General Assembly that he called to resolve the deadlocked state budget. Blagojevich explained his absence as a refusal to be a part of any of House Speaker Michael Madigan’s games, calling Democrat speaker Madigan a “right-wing Republican.”

The governor knew no progress would be made, but was ready and willing to pay legislators to twiddle their thumbs.

If Blagojevich would have taken the responsibility that is expected of an elected official – to listen, oversee and most importantly, compromise with legislators – there is no reason that a budget could not have been passed sooner, without the huge price tag for the legislators’ overtime and the governor’s expensive jet-set life. Being perfectly honest, the governor’s lack of cooperation, and his intentional absence at the special session that he purposely called, is just one example of behavior that is completely unacceptable and shows that something needs to be done.

Remember how Arnold Schwarzenegger became the “Governator of Kalifornia?”

State Republicans, dissatisfied with then-Governor Gray Davis’ handling of a declining state economy and a growing budget deficit (sound familiar?), pushed for the recall election that resulted in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ascent.

Currently, there are two options for the removal of an elected official, one of them impeachment. The other option for removal of an elected office holder is through a recall election, which the Illinois Constitution currently does not allow, but some state lawmakers are putting legislative gears in motion that may change that.

On Aug. 6, Senator Dan Cronin (R-Elmhurst), along with other Republican senators, proposed an amendment to the constitution to allow for any elected state official to be recalled – including the governor.

With a recall, the citizens are the ones who initiate the attempt of the removal of the office holder. If the recall is successful, a second election is held to replace the ousted official. Only 18 states allow the recall of state officials and of those states, only two governors have been removed – the most recent being Davis.

In a state where most citizens vote along party lines, the escalating political climate over the state budget fiasco in Springfield and rift between Statehouse Democrats and the governor have caused some of Illinois’ most hard-line democratic citizens to look for some sort of change.

By the chance a recall amendment makes its way through the House and Senate to the governor’s desk, Cronin’s proposed amendment needs to be seriously considered. While I am not saying that Blagojevich should necessarily be recalled – or at least, not now – there should be the option available to the people of this state who put him and other elected officials into power.

So Mr. Rod, we appreciate that you passed the belated budget, but in the meantime you’ve caused so much dissension that I would not be surprised if down the road, your actions might come back to bite you – from a blue state.