Madigan’s ousting was not soon enough

Ex-Speaker Michael Madigan didn’t have sense enough of when to step aside until Democrats in the House of Representatives were compelled to dump him as he greedily sought yet another term.

Madigan’s legacy is a horrible legacy for the people of Illinois. We were riding high among states when he became Speaker 38 years ago. We now are dead last among states in profound ways that negatively affect ordinary people. Everything declined under his tight control of Illinois government.

More than anyone else in our state, Michael Madigan is responsible for one of the highest percentages of people leaving out state. The highest overall tax burden. The largest unfunded pension liability of any state. The worst credit rating of any state. And national reputation for corruption—in fact ex-Speaker Madigan was partially overthrown because of his close association with federal indictments for corruption.

The one thing that unites about 90 percent of Illinoisans is the feeling of good riddance regarding Madigan’s ouster. But that’s not enough. We need to follow up on this epic dethronement by purging Madigan’s destructive ways of operating.

Case in point—last night the Senate was in session all night long. Why? To hide from the people the final presentation of a bill to handcuff the police and ultimately defund them. We got the text for the 764-page bill we would be voting on at 3:45 am and were forced to start debating it at 4:04 am and then voted on it at 4:48 am.

The reason the bill was presented in the dark of night is because it couldn’t stand up to the light of day.

Too often legislative leaders have pulled a Madigan—presented big, consequential bills with only minutes to hours of time to analyze, consider, and vote on them. We are supposed to be a deliberative body. We are supposed to know everything that we are voting on. But they purposefully don’t give us time as they rush consideration. They purposefully don’t give time for the public to learn what is proposed so they can weigh in with their Representatives and Senators. That’s why Illinois ranks so badly among states for our state government. And it’s the Madigan Way.

The desperately needed follow-on to ousting a House Speaker who stayed far too long and had to be embarrassingly dislodged from power as he tried to stay even longer, is to jettison his heavy-handed ways of running legislative business. We need to be far more transparent and deliberative. Time needs to be given for public airing of what is being considered. Sunlight needs a chance to shine on bad provisions of bills.

Only when Madigan’s Way—a shameful way—is purged from the General Assembly will we really have turned a page that’s been long overdue.

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