Of all the people who've been victims of raw political power in this corrupt state, I bet there's one name you never expected to see:
In a lawsuit filed Tuesday against Gov. Pat Quinn, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and his cunning apprentice, state Senate President John Cullerton, D-DeLeo, are portraying themselves as victims of the governor's ruthlessness.
And heaven help me for saying this, but Boss Madigan is absolutely right.
Yes, the words curdle on my tongue. But fair is fair. Boss Madigan is being strong-armed by a cruel and overreaching government.
Let's agree, once and for all, that the most powerful man in the state, Boss Madigan, is a victim.
Not only is he a victim, but he and Cullerton are champions of a free and independent legislature, at least in their own minds. How do I know this? They say so.
They're upset that Quinn has refused to pay legislators their salaries until lawmakers do something about the $100 billion in unfunded pension liabilities for state workers that's been burning a hole in Illinois' credit rating.
Every day the legislature waits, they cost us taxpayers millions. But while they wait, they want us to pay them. This is what passes for logic in Illinois.
It seems only like days ago when Madigan publicly supported Quinn's pay freeze idea.
"The governor's decision follows my efforts, and I understand his frustration," Madigan said in a statement. "I am hopeful his strategy works."
Actually, it doesn't just seem like days ago. It was days ago. July 10 to be exact. But now the legislators want Madigan and Cullerton to go and get their money from Quinn.
In their letter Tuesday to legislators, Madigan and Cullerton explain the good-government reasons they're opposed to Quinn's squeeze on legislative pay.
"In this case, the governor is seeking changes to the pension system, but next time it could be tax policy, gun control, or education reform," Madigan and Cullerton said in a letter to state lawmakers. "The possibilities are endless. The purpose of this lawsuit is to protect the independence of the legislature and preserve the separation of powers.
"It is our hope that the court will remedy this constitutional violation and that future governors will not feel empowered to use such coercive tactics."
That didn't faze Quinn, who still insists that legislators who don't do their jobs to fix the pension mess shouldn't get paid.
"If legislators had put forth the same effort to draw up a pension reform agreement that they did in crafting this lawsuit, pension reform could have been done by now," Quinn said in a statement.
"Instead of focusing on resolving the state's pension crisis — which is costing taxpayers millions of dollars a day — legislators have chosen to focus on their own paychecks and waste taxpayer time and money on this lawsuit."
Ah, but notice that Quinn said nothing about his alleged "coercive tactics."
Guess what, governor? No one likes coercive tactics, which is probably why Madigan — blessed be his name — filed the lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court.