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Change in Madiganistan starts at home

Only voting down would-be House Democrats statewide can wrest Illinois from the clutches of Boss Madigan

John Kass

October 26, 2012

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Wind-swept Madiganistan, that arid economic wasteland once known as Illinois, is in absolute ruins.

Young people flee the state in search of a future, and their future isn't here. Businesses leave, taking jobs with them. Taxes keep going up to feed the ravenous state government, and the boss rides government like some kind of beast.

He sits high on its back, and loping past, he looks down upon all of us chumbolones and smiles.

And it's time that you, my fellow taxpaying chumbolones, do something about it. No one else can do anything. Only you.

So stand up, Chumbolone Nation. Stand up.

The state has among the worst — if not the worst — credit ratings in the nation. We're drowning in debt, with more to come, and the state (meaning you) owing at least $85 billion in unfunded pension liabilities. You can count on taxes going up in a post-election deal that's likely to include more casino gambling and even more power for the boss.

You know who the boss is, don't you?

House Speaker Michael Madigan.

He's the alpha Democrat, lord of the state Democratic Party, puppet master of the Cook County Democrats, boss of judges high and low, boss of the legislature, of laws and regulations, boss of everything, decade after decade after decade. He dictates tax policy, yet has made a fortune in his private law business, reducing the taxes of the powerful real estate interests. He's installed his daughter, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, as the top law enforcement officer in the state.

The Lord of Madiganistan is waiting to make Princess Lisa your next governor.

Boss Madigan may control the state, but he doesn't stand for statewide election. During campaigns he sits in the shadows, sending his chieftains and political cash to Democrats running for the Illinois House. And when they win with his help, they choose him as speaker, election after election.

So if you vote for a Democratic state representative on Nov. 6, you won't really be voting for that legislator. The legislator could be a high-minded ethical person or some venal machine thug. There are many decent ones and a few bloodsuckers. But what they are really doesn't matter.

What matters is that once elected, they will install Madigan as speaker, and the ravenous cycle will begin anew.

We called a few Democrats running for the House — veteran legislators, small-town moms, even a former federal prosecutor — to ask a simple question.

I didn't want a recipe for the perfect baked potato. What I wanted was to know whether they'd install Madigan as boss.

We called state Rep. Patrick Verschoore, D-Milan, of the 72nd Legislative District. A polite woman answered and said that Verschoore was in the office. But when we mentioned Madigan, an amazing thing happened. Verschoore disappeared.

"He must have stepped out," she said, then told us to leave a number. He didn't call back.

We also left a Madigan message with state Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Northbrook, of the 57th District. But no luck. Same with other Democrats, such as Des Plaines Mayor Marty Moylan, 55th District; state Rep. Michelle "Mom on a Mission" Mussman, Schaumburg, 56th District; and Scott Drury, a former federal prosecutor from Highwood, running in the 58th District.

Deb Conroy, a mother of four from Elmhurst in the 46th District, and certified public accountant Natalie Manley, of Joliet, in the 98th District, were also called. As were Kate Cloonen, campaigning in Bradley in the 79th District, and Aurora Ald. Stephanie Kifowit of the 84th District.

None of them called back to answer the Madigan question.

An aide to Democratic state Rep. Dan Beiser, Alton, 111th District, said he'd get back to us but didn't. Dee Beaubien, running as a Madigan-backed "independent" from Barrington in the 52nd District, didn't return the call either. An aide to state Rep. Carol Sente of Vernon Hills, 59th District, said "she's not in."

Hmm. I've got a strange feeling that I would have had better luck asking the potato question. So why are Democratic politicians so reluctant to publicly kiss the feet of their lord before the election? Aren't they proud?

Perhaps they'd rather fly under the radar, the way Madigan flies under the radar, a silky thing in the shadows, year after year after year.

It's this simple: The only way for Chumbolone Nation to end Boss Madigan's iron-fisted reign over our state is to not vote for a Democratic candidate for the Illinois House.

Madigan's lickspittles will no doubt accuse me of supporting the Republicans here, but if this were a boss Republican state, I'd do the same. It's not the party that's wrong. It's bossism that's wrong. And Boss Madigan couldn't eat without those fat checks from the wealthy Republican real estate interests who in effect subsidize Madigan's Democratic hegemony.

The Republican leaders in Springfield — House Minority Leader Tom Cross of Oswego and Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno of Lemont — are pleasant enough. But they have neither the guts nor the talent to run a thing. They roll over and live off Madigan's crumbs. They come with no ideas or true leadership.

In any case, the first step is that Boss Madigan has to go. Nothing will change here until he's gone. Nothing.

Chumbolone Nation, it's your state, not his. It's your government, not his. They're your tax dollars, not his.

And if you don't stand up, no one will.

jskass@tribune.com

Twitter @John_Kass