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In four acts.

Pension Punt
"State lawmakers on Tuesday bequeathed the government worker pension problem to the next General Assembly, rejecting Gov. Pat Quinn's roundly criticized 'Hail Mary' plan to ask a committee to fix the worst-in-the-nation retirement system," the Tribune's Rick Pearson reports.

That was Quinn's sudden, last-minute idea to establish a base-closings style commission to solve the pension issue that he once declared he was "put on Earth" to solve.

It also marked the end of a "grassroots" effort to build support for a pension solution in part by drawing on an animated python named Squeezy.

Not to worry, though; a new fiesta is in the making. The new legislature gets sworn in today.

Though he will start the new session Wednesday with a new supermajority of 40 Democrats out of 59 senators, [state senate president John] Cullerton said he still will seek Republican support because there are opponents to the pension legislation on both sides of the aisle. "We really are one bill away from solving this problem," Cullerton said.

[Senate Republican leader Christine] Radogno was skeptical.

"Well, quite frankly, I share the concern that nothing will get accomplished because when you look at the dynamics of the General Assembly, the Democrats have had clear, clear majorities now for 10 years," she said. "The problem is the Democrat majorities do not agree on pension reform and frankly, I'm not sure they want it.

"(House Speaker Michael) Madigan and Cullerton don't agree on a framework, and that's a huge problem. And, of course, we have a governor who is unable to bring people together," she said. "I don't know if it's doable with the current cast of characters."

Yep.

Criminal Class
"When Illinois' new General Assembly takes the oath of office Wednesday, the state that's still struggling to rebuild its image after two consecutive governors went to prison will set yet another precedent of sorts: Three sitting lawmakers facing criminal charges," AP reports to the world.

In Illinois, the oath should be administered by the U.S. attorney.

"Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?"

"I do."

"You realize you're under oath now, right?"

"Um . . . "

"Also, you have the right to remain silent . . . "

Driving Deal
"After failing by just two votes in 2007, legislation to provide driver's licenses to illegal immigrants passed the Illinois House by a vote of 65-46. Gov. Pat Quinn's office issued a statement shortly afterward saying he plans to sign the bill, which cleared the state Senate in December," the Tribune reports.

Good. But what seems to have been forgotten and left out of the reporting is that this issue created one of the great flashpoints of the 2008 primary. Hillary Clinton was well on her way to waxing Barack Obama in yet another debate - this one in Philadelphia - when she was asked about her support of New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's plan to allow undocumented immigrants to get driver's licenses even though she didn't support a presidential action doing so in the absence of comprehensive immigration reform.

She got roasted for the alleged inconsistency in one of the campaign's turning points.The authors of Game Change, in fact, titles their chapter on the debate "The Turning Point," and describes how the Obama team set-up weeks in advance attacks on Clinton it knew would be abetted by the media - and the other campaigns - by giving a front-page interview to the New York Times.

And that was just what happened.

Game Change's authors called it "one of the most extraordinary group assaults in the history of presidential debates."

(Obama complained in that Times interview, among other things, that Clinton was, in Game Change's words, "acting like a Republican on foreign policy," which is quite a laugh today, as is his assertion then that we didn't need eight more years of partisan bickering that a Clinton presidency would bring, which nobody noticed presumed her re-election.)

*

And where is that federal action on driver's licenses and comprehensive immigration reform today? Still undone by the Obama administration.

See also: The item Driving Me Crazy.

Casino Quinn
"A dormant gambling expansion bill that would bring a casino to Chicago moved to Gov. Pat Quinn's desk Tuesday after the state Senate's top Democrat quietly lifted a parliamentary paperweight that he'd placed on the plan nearly two years ago," the Sun-Times's Dave McKinney reports.

"The likelihood that the governor would affix his signature to the package seemed remote since Quinn once belittled the effort as 'top heavy' and 'excessive,' and the top state gambling regulator whom the governor appointed called it a 'pile of garbage.'"

He's not going to sign that bill, but McKinney raises the possibility that Quinn could use it next session to negotiate a pension bill. I don't see how the governor has any leverage, though; with Democratic supermajorities in the new legislature, he's not really at the table anymore. Why would legislative leaders and/or Rahm - who really, really, really, really wants a casino - give up anything to Quinn to get pension reform in exchange for getting a gambling bill signed when they can now pass a veto-proof gambling bill on their own?

Quinn is now about as relevant as Squeezy.

-

Comments welcome.



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Posted on January 9, 2013


MUSIC - What FBG Duck's Mother Says.
TV - The Comedic LA Dodgers.
POLITICS - Wilmette Man Translated Nazis To Death. Heed His Lessons.
SPORTS - Tweeting Foles.

BOOKS - The Endurance Of The Rubik's Cube.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Charles E. Cheese Boo-tacular.


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