More illumination than Fire Works: Berkowitz w/Senator Noland on web/cable re state pensions and taxpayer capacity/willingness to pay.

Why does a State Senator vote "Present" on IL pension reform legislation sponsored by his Party's Senate President, John Cullerton? Remember, most knowledgeable political observers in IL view a "present" vote in the state legislature as essentially the same as a “no” vote.

Is it because he says we need to have pension reform legislation that "holds state employees harmless," and he thought that this legislation didn't do that? Is it because the State Senator said we need to "keep our promises to state employees," and this legislation didn't do that? Is it because the Senator says we need to have "Comprehensive pension reform legislation," and this legislation covered only two of the five state employee pension funds?

Is it because the Senator didn't feel that the proposed legislation by his party's Senate leader, President Cullerton, "guaranteed" that the State would put 200 billion dollars, or so, into the pension funds over the next 30 years and therefore the legislation didn’t provide for “stability.”  Is it because the Senator says that Illinois' "willingness to pay" does not match its "capacity to pay."

The legislation did pass the State Senate, on a bi-partisan basis, on the last evening of this year’s regular session of the State legislature.  However, the IL House closed up shop without taking up the bill. The bill, or an alternative, could be taken up by the Illinois House after the November 6, 2012 election, or the legislature could meet in a special session this summer or fall to consider passing pension reform legislation.

But, on this July 4, Independence Day, we might ask: Do you, as an Illinois taxpayer, feel "undertaxed."  Underspent?  Do you feel IL citizens are not “keeping their promises” to Illinois state employees? Is the sixth year far northwest Chicago suburban State Senator being interviewed on “Public Affairs,” saying Illinois taxpayers are not willing to pay "enough?"  Did we get it right as to what the State Senator meant to convey?  And, what did former Republican Cook County Commissioner, Tony Peraica, mean when he asked, "Have you had enough."

To get answers to these and many other questions, please watch show host Jeff Berkowitz debate and discuss Illinois pension reform, budget, tax and many other issues with State Senator Michael Noland (D-Elgin). Senator Noland holds the seat formerly held by “Fab 5” Republican State Senator Steve Rauschenberger from 1992 to 2006. Senator Michael Noland  is also is a member of the Governor's select House/Senate committee on pension reform and he and some of his colleagues (not necessarily all at the same time) meet, from time to time with the majority and minority Senate and House leaders [The Four Tops], and the Governor, to discuss Illinois state employee pension reform.

Show host Berkowitz has dubbed this group of executive branch and legislative leaders and members the G-9: Governor Quinn, House Speaker Madigan, Senate President Cullerton, Senate Republican Leader Radogno, House Republican Leader Cross, State Rep. Nekritz (D-Des Plaines), State Senator Bill Brady (R-Bloomington), State Rep. Senger (R-Naperville) and State Senator Noland (D-Elgin).

The Chicago mainstream media (private and public TV) spent a great deal of time with their coverage of the NATO meeting in Chicago. That august group of media also spent a lot of time covering the aborted (or changed venue) meeting of the G-8 when it was supposed to occur in Chicago. But, when it comes to covering the Illinois G-9 re Illinois Pension Reform, when is the last time you saw a serious, one-on-one half-hour, probing, challenging, illuminating TV interview  by the Chicago mainstream media  with any of the G-9? I would wager the answer is “not so much,” or perhaps “never.”

But you have and have had the opportunity to see a thirty minute, probing, challenging, and fair TV interview focusing on Illinois state employee pension reform issues with Senator Bill Brady on “Public Affairs.   Senator Brady, of course, is a once and perhaps future Republican nominee for Governor. And, you have seen and can still see a seven minute TV interview by Public Affairs and the Illinois Channel in late May at the Capitol steps with Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan on pension and Medicaid reform. And, now you have the opportunity to see a thirty minute, probing, challenging TV interview on Public Affairs with another member of the G-9, Senator Noland,on Illinois state employee pension reform issues.

All the other members of the G-9 have been invited to come on Public Affairs to discuss Illinois pension reform issues with the show host and to be challenged and probed so the citizens of Illinois can better understand their positions.   We applaud Senators Brady and Noland for showing up and subjecting themselves to probing, challenging questions and follow-ups. We applaud Speaker Madigan for giving us his seven minute, timely, candid, spontaneous and unrehearsed video interview.

We hope the Speaker and the other members of the G-9 will all follow the examples of Brady and Noland – and come on Public Affairs for a half hour, one-on-one interview and subject themselves to challenging, probing but respectful questions, so the viewers and citizens can learn the essence and nuances of their political leaders' positions.. They have all been given a personal offer. Now they have a public one.

This is the way a democracy is supposed to work. Some of the discussions of public policy can be done behind closed doors, notwithstanding the Open Meetings Act. But, our leaders should be willing to subject themselves to tough, vigorous exchanges on the issues. So, the citizens can learn their views and express their thoughts to the Leaders. Before the “soup is made.” Not after.  I mean I did get that right, did I not?

Our phone lines and email addresses are open: Quinn, Madigan, Cullerton, Cross, Radogno, Nekritz or Senger, please give us a call or send us an email. Indeed, we even have a free one half hour of air time open this Saturday afternoon to discuss pension reform. What better way to celebrate the July 4 weekend than with show host Jeff Berkowitz on Public Affairs.

Democrats, why whine about “Citizens United,” destroying the body politic by turning public policy discussions over to those with big money?  Republicans, why whine about your relative inability to get the mainstream media to spend as much time with you as with the Democrats who run the State?

Nope, you can show the public where you stand. One half hour of your presentation of your views on pension reform with those views being tested and challenged by the host. That's what the body politic wants. And, that one half of time won't cost you a penny-- not one thin dime, not one tenth of a dollar. The phone lines are open, the email addresses are open:  Operators are waiting. Who will be the first to step up and be the next guest from the G-9 on Public Affairs?


You can also watch Senator Noland in Rockford and surrounding areas tomorrow night at 8:30 pm on Cable Ch. 17


You can also watch Senator Noland on Public Affairs throughout Chicago this Monday night at 8:30 pm on Cable Ch.21, CANTV.


You can also watch Senator Noland on Public Affairs in 34 North and Northwest Chicago Metro suburbs during the Week of July16 [A detailed airing schedule will be posted on this blog as we get closer to the show].


You can also watch Senator Noland on Public Affairs in Aurora and surrounding areas in Aurora during the week of July 16  [A detailed airing schedule will be posted on this blog as we get closer to the show].



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