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The [Thursday] Papers

"Lawmakers who passed a sweeping overhaul of the state's government worker pension systems are hoping that what the measure giveth workers will be enough to survive a court challenge over what the plan taketh away," the Tribune's Monique Garcia writes in a nice summary of the legal fight to come.

"On Wednesday, union representatives said they are busy preparing their case but have yet to determine when and where they will file suit. The question of jurisdiction is important, as a circuit court judge in Springfield might be more inclined to side with the unions than one in Chicago, where Madigan wields influence in selecting jurists for the bench."

This is really an extraordinary sentence to write in such a matter-of-fact way in an "objective" news article.

It's not that I doubt the assertion - I absolutely do not. It's that the political influence on the judiciary in this state is so easily taken as a given that it evokes yawns from reporters instead of outrage. In fact, isn't the story here that plaintiffs filing a seminal lawsuit against a landmark piece of legislation may avoid doing so in Cook County because judges here are too beholden to their patron - the Speaker of the House, chairman of the state Democratic party and father of the state attorney general - to rule fairly?

That's the lead. After all, the parameters of the legal fight, however nicely summarized here, have been debated ad nauseum. We could just watch any of a dozen or so Chicago Tonight reruns (and don't they all feel like reruns?) for that.

Also: Name those judges! Let's see a list of those who owe their existence on the bench to Madigan.

Or provide this link from the Tribune itself: House Speaker Michael Madigan And Other Politicians Often Weigh In On The Selection Of Cook County Associate Judges - A Process Supposed To Be Free Of Political Influence.

Then there's the larger question: Regardless of what a lower court may rule, where does the state Supreme Court fall?

"In the spring, Madigan said he was confident his original version of pension reform would be found constitutional by at least four of the state Supreme Court's seven justices."

That might just be content-free rhetoric, but Madigan is, um, pretty expert when it comes to vote-counting. And he seems to have a pretty good handle on the state's highest court.

"The Illinois Supreme Court in the past year kept seven politically connected judges on the Cook County bench after they were rejected by voters, a common practice the high court had pledged to curtail," the Tribune reported last year.

"One had given more than $20,000 to the Cook County Democratic Party. Two had connections to Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan. Others have ties to powerful Chicago Democrats who decide who gets the party's support to be judge.

"They weren't the only active Democrats chosen for Circuit Court duty by the high court's three justices from Chicago, all who are Democrats themselves. A Tribune review also found the court reappointed three judges who dropped out of judicial races, making room for the Democratic Party's favored candidate."

Of course, Madigan, as I mentioned, is chairman of the state Democratic party; he oversees each and every race. Like a hawk.

So whom on the state Supreme Court, which (wink, wink) is currently comprised of four Democrats and three Republicans, is particularly beholden to him?

Well, Thomas Kilbride, for one.

"Democratic powerhouse Michael Madigan received much credit 10 years ago for the [Kilbride's] stunning victory over a heavily favored Republican legislator," Mike Lawrence noted for the Springfield State Journal-Register in 2010.

That same year, the Tribune noted that "[Kilbride] raised a whopping $2.48 million to save his job. The money is coming largely from the same sources that funded his 2000 campaign: House Speaker Michael Madigan and organized labor."

And perhaps Charles Freeman, who appointed judge Laura Liu to the Cook County Circuit Court; Liu is the wife of Mike Kasper, Madigan's go-to party lawyer.

Mary Jane Theis was "propelled" to her seat by Madigan and Rahm Emanuel - who certainly has a stake in seeing the pension bill pass muster.

Anne Burke, of course. Her husband runs Madigan's slating committee.

As far as the Republicans go, well, Madigan seems to slate their candidates too.

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Addendum:

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CTRL ALT DELETE
Microsoft Model Of Teacher Evaluation Foisted On Schools Ditched By Microsoft After Nearly Destroying Microsoft.

Lesson: Schools should be Macs, not PCs.

How 'Bout Them Cowboys
It may surprise you to learn that our very own Carl Mohrbacher has a mortgage and a child. In The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report.

From Houston With Love
Pagans, zines, perverts, Jews, rappers, comics and the gift of literacy. In Local Book Notes.

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Posted on December 5, 2013


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