An open letter to Governor Blagojevich

How are things?

We thought you might’ve forgotten about the University of Illinois — you know, the flagship institution of the state. We know you’re a busy guy and all. We wouldn’t even be bothering you if there weren’t buildings like Lincoln Hall falling apart. The only way to pay to fix them, as far as we can tell, is to pass the capital bill that’s been floundering in Springfield for months.

But you know that already. The bigger question is why you would call a special session of the Illinois Legislature last week when you were aware that you weren’t close to an agreement with legislative leaders on the Chicago Transit Authority bailout and the gambling expansion that’s supposed to pay for the capital bill.

These special sessions have cost Illinois more than $1 million this year in overtime for legislators and other expenses. That doesn’t even include the almost $6,000 the state spends every time you fly round trip from Chicago to Springfield. But, as they say, there’s nothing like sleeping in your own bed.

There’s also nothing like cheering your favorite team. Chicago’s CBS 2 News recently reported that after calling a special legislative session in Springfield on Nov. 28, you flew back to the Windy City to catch a Blackhawks game and missed the vote you pushed for in the first place.

We’re not saying that being a sports fan is a bad thing. In fact, we really appreciate your support for the Illini. Thanks for the proclamation declaring Monday “University of Illinois Fighting Illini Day.”

We’re sure that having our governor squarely in the corner of the school’s football team put a real spring in everyone’s step. With finals just a few days away, we needed a morale boost. Who knows, if the Illini win, you might even come down to campus.

Our travel advice? Amtrak comes straight down to Champaign, with a more affordable price tag than those private jet flights.

Apparently, you and House Speaker Mike Madigan have a less than cordial relationship. But after a long, hot summer in the state capital with the state running short of funds without an operating budget and the tempers of every legislator running even shorter, you can’t blame him. Those hugely unpopular line-item vetoes that you pushed through with the help of Senate President Emil Jones probably didn’t help either.

It’s a good bet that you won’t be on the speaker’s Christmas card list this year. But for our sake and for everyone else in Illinois, you should make up with Madigan and put this state back together again. We suggest you start by writing him a letter.