For a man who has built himself up as being a one-man crusader for political reform and slamming the corrupt Business As Usual Politics of a sitting governor, Pat "the Former Reformer" Quinn sure has enjoyed the spoils of occupying the Governors Mansion. Then again, anyone who likes to watch the eyes of politicians, or liars in general, could see that this was a man who himself didn't believe a single word he was saying. And if you don't believe me then just watch the next time he speaks and see his eyes constantly dart around to see if someone actually picked up on that little fib he just slipped in there. It is like the old saying goes - the eyes just don't lie! The Huckster, though, has earned the nickname I have bestowed upon him because he is every bit the shifty politician as the brethren he was trying to out before becoming the fat cat himself.
After Pat Quinn became Governor, he immediately went on a campaign to lock in the necessary votes he needed to get the State Legislature to pass the largest Income Tax Increase in state history. At the same time he kept drilling taxpayers that the State was in such dire financial straits that he desperately needed that tax increase to pay the bills and fund education - as well as a host of other things essential for the well-being of all Illinoisans. As we know, the State Legislature eventually gave him that tax increase in a very questionable 13th hour voting session. Too bad, though, that everything the Huckster told us was a lie because life hasn't gotten better and the programs he was going to save were not only slashed but our financial situation and debt obligations have worsened under his watch.
So what did Pat Quinn need all that money for really? Well, it is pretty obvious to me that given the lack of any improvement that the money was needed to keep the political machine's business-as-usual and pay-to-play culture humming right along! And Quinn punctuates that point on a regular basis as he keeps adding to both the current, and future burdens, of Illinois taxpayers with his never-ending political payback appointments.
You could say that the first indication of Quinn's insincerity was the appointment of Careen Gordon after she agreed to change her firm "NO Vote" to a "Yes." Naturally, ethics and morals always hit the skids when someone is in need of a job. And that was exactly what Gordon needed since her constituency had decided that they had tired of her and voted her out. But defeated politicians are like rodents in Illinois, you could shoo them out of the house but it is just a matter of time before they are back inside wreaking havoc. Careen Gordon of course isn't the only has been to land back on the public payroll as Quinn's appointment of a thrice defeated Dan Seals would attest to. One thing is for sure, the Huckster loves his power to appoint political cronies so much that he has all but abandoned his political promise of bringing transparency to state government that desperately needs it!
Then again, Pat Quinn has always been the Party Loyalist. We really shouldn't have expected anything more than what he was - which is the typical Chicago Machine Democrat. Unfortunately that also meant that he must spread around the spoils if he is to expect future support from the party's power elite. And there are many political elite families that fall into that category here in Illinois. However, one family that is important to Quinn's political future are the Burke's.
As in Edward M Burke, the 14th Ward Kingpin and his Illinois Supreme Court Justice wife Anne! Coincidentally, the Burke's have also been one of Pat Quinn's major campaign contributors and staunchest political allies. It now seems that the Burke-Quinn relationship has finally payed-off in spades for Jennifer Burke, 41, who was appointed to the Illinois Pollution Control Board on Wednesday. That position will pay her a cool $117,043 per year on top of the $99,948 per year she bags as the City of Chicago Assistant Corporation Counsel Supervisor.
Now if I didn't know any better, it would seem that the $200,000 loan that Friends of Edward M. Burke fronted the "former reformer" during his gubernatorial campaign has been all but been squared with that little move. But we should watch for any "future considerations" since the Burkes also donated an additional $52,000 since Justice Anne Burke swore Quinn in shortly after Rod "I Won't Play Along" Blagojevich was removed from office.
In addition to Jennifer Burke's appointment on Wednesday, the Huckster also saw fit to appoint Jennifer Parrack to the Prisoner Review Board at $85,886. That was the position that Careen Gordon had to abandon after her chances of Senate confirmation vaporized due to that Tax Vote. But don't fret, because if you remember the Huckster was still able to place Gordon in a separate agency position that didn't require any Senate confirmation.
I guess the thing that galls me the most is that most of these political appointments, especially to some of the obscure ones, could be done without and eliminated. Exactly how many double-dippers does our system need to support? And if the Governor says we need them, well make it a $1 per year as Rahm Emanuel is doing with some. We forget, many of these appointments are already taking in a salary somewhere else in government or they are on a pension with benefits. Why can't that money be put into essential programs or for summer job programs for those who really need it? Why does education, public health or infrastructure have to take the fall while the politically connected rake in even more from an over-burdened tax base? Dammit - Enough is Enough!
So, the next time someone tries to tell you that the state is dire financial straits make sure that you call your state representatives and ask them exactly what that means okay? I mean is it really about paying the state's long past due bills, supporting education, small business retention and/or job creation or is it about the ever expanding political machine's feeding trough? And why is Governor Quinn offering tax offsets to Big Business concerns that don't add any new jobs or their fair share of property taxes into the State Treasury? I am sure that Jennifer Burke, and the host of other political appointments made by Quinn, will be living high off the hog when they begin tapping into their multiple pension funds. Pension Funds which will of course be funded by taxpayers later when yet another dire financial situation rears its ugly head.
As for The Huckster? Well the beat just goes on and on....
Then again, Joe "Da Family Man" Berrios has a pretty good gig too!
Tags: Edward M. Burke, Governor Pat Quinn, Governor Pat Quinn Political Appointments, Illinois Justice Anne Burke, Jennifer Burke, News and Opinion, Op Ed, Political Appointments, Politics, Rod Blagojevich