Preckwinkle, Silvestri Smokescreen Goes Down in Flames

by

Maze Jackson

With a hastily released statement and a suspension of the rules, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Commissioner Peter Silvestri’s attempt to strip Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court Dorothy Brown of her position went down in flames.  Community activists, Black businessmen, and seniors descended on the May 11, 2016 Cook County Board meeting to let the Cook County Board of Commissioners exactly how they felt about Silvestri’s resolution.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle was called "Pettywinkle" by protester?
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle was called “Pettywinkle” by protesters (Photo courtesy of Chicago Tribune)

The meeting attendees were vociferous in their opposition to any attempts to disenfranchise Black voters in Cook County.  The resolution, sponsored by Elmwood Park Republican Commissioner Peter Silvestri,was billed as a cost cutting measure, not meant directly to target Clerk Brown.  Commissioners who asked to remain off the record acknowledged that Silvestri was acting at the behest of County Board President Preckwinkle, who has made no secret of her disdain of Clerk Brown, even going as far as having her removed from the Democratic Party slate of endorsed candidates.  Observers in the audience labeled the attack petty, as some even began whispering, “Toni Pettywinkle.”

The tension continued to mount prior to the vote and it was apparent that many of the Commissioner were nervous about taking such a the vote.  Shortly afterwards, Reverend Leslie Sanders,  community outreach specialists delivered a hastily worded statement placing responsibility for the resolution in the hands of the Chief Judge Timothy Evans and Commissioner Silvestri.  The statement read as such:

The proposal that the Chief Judge appoint the Clerk of the Circuit Court was initiated by Commissioner Silvestri, and not by my office. I was not informed in advance of Commissioner Silvestri’s intention to introduce this resolution. I am neither endorsing nor promoting it, and I met with and informed Circuit Court Clerk Brown of my position. The resolution will go to a Board committee for discussion and, in any case, this is not a change the County Board could implement on its own, but rather would need approval from the state Legislature.

Community leaders refused to accept the statement and demanded that “Pettywinkle” as they referred to her, oppose the resolution.  After the statement was distributed, the crowd became even more unsettled and became raucous, as Dorothy Brown sat quietly watching the who thing unfold.

Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court Dorothy Brown
Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court Dorothy Brown watched the proceedings unfold (Photo courtesy of ABC 7)

When Preckwinkle took the podium she gave the floor to Cook County Commissioner John Daley, who immediately moved to suspended the rules, at which point (click to watch video)  Silvestri announced that he was holding the resolution in committee, at which point the crowd erupted with applause.  Cook County Board Commissioners, who often operate in anonymity were put on notice that they would be receiving the same scrutiny as the Chicago City Council, as shouts of “What’s in it for the Black People?” rang out from the audience.

The old Cook County Hospital is set to be redeveloped but the community wants to know, "What's in it for the Black People?"
The old Cook County Hospital is set to be redeveloped but the community wants to know, “What’s in it for the Black People?” (Photo courtesy of CBS 2)

Coincidentally, on the same day, the Cook County Board also passed a $375 million dollar bond deal to finance the redevelopment of the old Cook County Hospital.  Considering the County is using the same Black contractors who have been accused of  leaving the Black community out the last time the County Hospital was rebuilt, that scrutiny is warranted and will be intense.  Just listening to the audience, it does not appear that Target Group and Rite-Way Construction will be enough to satisfactorily answer the question, “What’s in it for the Black People?”

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Is Cook County Clerk Resolution a $375 Million Smokescreen?

by

Maze Jackson

May 10, 2016

 

Black community activists were outraged, at what has been perceived as a blatant attempt at voter disenfranchisement, when Cook County Commissioner Peter Silvestri introduced a resolution to change the position of Clerk of the Circuit Court from elected to appointed. This would effectively nullify the election of current Clerk Dorothy Brown, who was re-elected overwhelmingly, in spite of the Cook County Democratic Party flip-flopping on her endorsement.

Cook County Commissioner Peter Silvertri
Cook County Commissioner Peter Silvestri. (Photo credit Daily Herald.)

While Silvestri sponsored the ordinance and maintains it’s not “personal,” insiders say Silvestri does not make a move without Preckwinkle’s approval, and Preckwinkle’s disdain for Brown is no secret. Preckwinkle led the charge to have Brown dumped by the Democratic Party, and when she couldn’t defeat her at the ballot box, she’s apparently decided to go the legislative route, hoping to cash in on her growing political clout.

Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court Dorothy Brown
Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court Dorothy Brown. (Photo credit ABC 7.)

Brown did not help matters by requesting a raise earlier this week. While some of her colleagues agreed Brown’s points were valid, they also agreed the timing was not good. In today’s toxic political environment, no politician wants to tbe on record voting for a raise, especially another politician’s raise, so Brown’s proposal was dead on arrival. Preckwinkle, apparently seeing that as another opportunity to attack her nemesis, allowed Silvestri to float the resolution of changing the position from elected to appointed.

In a county, city, and state with a reputation for corruption and cronyism, any attempt to place more decision-making power in the hands of politicians is sure to be met with fierce resistance by the local activist community, and like clockwork,  activists are organizing a protest for tomorrow’s Cook County Board meeting. Even if the resolution passes, it must be approved by the Illinois General Assembly, which is dominated by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus. Black caucus members have already signaled they would oppose any such legislation, as the have in the past, especially when it limits opportunities for elected advancement.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is feeling her power.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is feeling her power. (Photo credit NBC.)

Understanding all of those dynamics, I had to wonder why would the Cook County Board President allow such an outrageous resolution to see the light of day, knowing the potential outrage it would cause, particularly among the activist community? I mean I understand using Silvestri to keep her hand hidden, but why such a bold move against another Black woman?  So I did some calling around, and while I expected to discuss the Brown resolution I was pointed to this from today’s Finance Committee Meeting:

To pay the costs of the Refunding, the Bonds shall be issued from time to time in one or more Series, all as may be determined by the Chief Financial Officer, provided that the aggregate principal amount of any Bonds issued pursuant to this Ordinance shall not exceed $375,000,000. The Bonds shall be designated substantially as “General Obligation Refunding Bonds, Series 2016,” with such additions or modifications as shall be determined to be necessary by the Chief Financial Officer at the time of the sale of the Bonds.

16-2696 PROPOSED ORDINANCE Bond Refunding

The Cook County Board will be authorizing $375 MILLION DOLLARS in bonds, coincidentally on the same day we have to save Dorothy Brown?  Now don’t get me wrong, I think the bonds will go for a great cause, the redevelopment of the of Cook County Hospital. I think it will be an awesome project, and I will be glad when it is rebuilt. I love Chicago and I think our city is becoming more dynamic everyday. But with $375 MILLION on the line, I had to ask…What’s in it for the Black People?”

The old Cook County Hospital is finally getting redeveloped. (photo courtesy od Chicago Sun-Times)
The old Cook County Hospital is finally getting redeveloped.  (Photo courtesy of Chicago Sun-Times.)

What I found out was troubling. I found out that some commissioners actually asked, “What’s in it for the Black People?”  They got a community benefits agreement, but it was rushed.  They asked WHO would get the contracts and some of the same old characters who sold their contracts last time they rebuilt Cook County Hospital were back representing Black business again. Who is ensuring that the Black people participate in the contracts and job opportunities? You guessed it, the same company that had Black people doing less than 5% of the business in the city of Chicago. Which one of them has helped create new economic opportunities for the Black community? You don’t know? Neither did they, so coincidentally the Dorothy Brown issue comes up on the same day as they have to answer the question regarding that $375 million bond vote.  May 11th Cook County Board Meeting.

The reality is Dorothy Brown isn’t going anywhere, but that $375 million dollars is…in a cloud of smoke!

#MazeSaid

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Jabari Dreams of Freedom Uses History to Address Today’s Issues for Children

Jabari Photo

by

Maze Jackson

By all accounts, I consider myself to be a pro-Black man, so I was somewhat skeptical of a play entitled “Jabari Dreams of Freedom” being produced by The Chicago Children’s Theatre.  How could the producers at the Chicago Children’s Theatre possibly translate the dreams of a nine-year old Black child, most likely from the South or West side into a stage play.  I wasn’t sure whether to expect an urban version of “Leave it to Beaver” or “Chi-Raq for Kids.”  After seeing the play my assumptions could not have been further from the truth. I not only found myself engaged and entertained, I also learned a few things about Civil Rights Era that challenged that I didn’t even know.

“Jabari Dreams of Freedom” is the story of Jabari, a normal tween who is living a normal life, until, like many Chicago children, he is forced to deal with an incident of violence.  As Jabari struggles to cope with the incident, overcome his fears, and the challenge of just going outside,  his parents are forced to confront the realities of living in inner-city Chicago, from the barrage on negativity on the news, to youth violence, and issues of police brutality.  Writer Nambi Kelly skillfully weaves historical events from the Civil Rights Era into a tapestry of modern-day situations, to illustrate lessons that can be applied to some of the tough issues that plague our community today.  Kelly does not shy away from some of the hard truths that our children must meet, instead putting them in context that even nine-year olds can comprehend (although this 45-year-old was completely caught up in the storyline).

Jabari, played by 13-year-old Philip Cusic (right), encounters a young Barack Obama (Gavin Lawrence) in Chicago Children’s Theatre’s world premiere of Jabari Dreams of Freedom by Nambi E. Kelley. Performances are April 5-May 1 at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn St., Chicago. (Note: Philip Cusic alternates with another 13-year-old, Cameron A. Goode, as the title character in Jabari Dreams of Freedom.) Tickets: chicagochildrenstheatre.org or (872) 222-9555. Photo credit: Charles Osgood

“Jabari Dreams of Freedom” reminds of so many Disney movies that my kids “force” me to go see.  While we go for them, I wind up thoroughly entertained.  Jabari is no different.  Young Philip Cusic offers us an early glance someone I suspect we will be seeing a lot more of, in his role as Jabari.  Leslie Ann Sheppard took me through a range of emotions in her roles as Claudette Colvin and practically stole the show with her portrayal of young civil rights activist Ruby Bridges.  Gavin Lawrence, who played Jabari’s dad, was absolutely hilarious as Baby Obama.   

“Jabari Dream of Freedom” is an exploration of  realities that face our young people in a society plagued by violence through the eyes of a 9-year-old.  The play uses comedy, drama, suspense, and inspiration to teaches kids and parents how to use lessons from the past to develop relevant solutions for today.

While I saw the play with an audience full of students on a field trip, this play deserves to be more than a school field trip.  This play should be a family outing that can be used as an opportunity for families open dialogue.  This play creates the perfect opportunity for parents to have the discussions we talk about among ourselves as adults.  Unfortunately, our kids don’t have a water cooler, so let the discussion begin with them around “Jabari.”

This is a must see play for your family.

I rate it 3 1/2 stars.

 

A review of the children’s play, “Jabari Dreams of Freedom.”  Ideal for ages 9 & up

Written by Nambi E. Kelley     Directed by Lili-Anne Brown     Music Direction by Jaret Landon

Playing now through May 1st at the Chicago Children’s Theatre.

CAST

Phillip Cusic: Jabari (alternates the role with Cameron)

Cameron Goode: Jabari  (alternates the role with Phillip)

Gavin Lawrence: Jabari’s Dad, Obama, Young Obama

Patrick Agada: Emmet, ensemble

Emily Glick: Jabari’s mom, ensemble

Matt Keffer: News reporter, ensemble

Leslie Ann Sheppard: Claudette Colvin, Ruby Bridges, ensemble

(Click below to buy tickets)

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What Men Said When Six Brown Chicks Asked “How To Love A Black Man?”

by

Maze Jackson

 

 

On Saturday, April 9, Six Brown Chicks hosted a panel discussion entitled, “How To Love a Black Man” at the Black Women’s Expo.  Moderated by Brown Chick Gina B., the panel feature six of Chicago’s most interesting Black men discussing what it takes for Black women to get and keep a Black man in today’s society.

Questions were submitted online via social media and live at the seminar.  The topics covered everything from who pays, to sex on the first date, to relationship roles.  Things got hot when the topic of interracial dating came up, and the brothers gave it to the sisters in the raw.  Sometimes things got a little intense, but overall, the men provided the women with real information, even if it wasn’t what they wanted to hear.

If you are looking for a frank conversation on Black relationships, this is a video you do not want to miss!

 

#mazesaid

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Black Women’s Expo Seminar- Racially Broke: Wealth in the African-American Community

by

Maze Jackson

 

 

Mistress of Ceremony, Helen-Crawley Austin moderated the panel entitled, Racially Broke-Wealth in the Black Community during the 2016 Black Women’s Expo.  The much-needed panel discussed and highlighted the lack needs of for Black people to put style over substance.  The panelists provided insights as well as offered suggestions for the attendees to get their fiscal houses in order. The panelists also gave event attendees advice on how to save money.

Are you tired of faking it until you make?  Watch this video and share with your friends.

#mazesaid

 

 

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Small Business Breakfast with US Senator Garry Peters

 

by

Maze Jackson

 

On Friday, April 8, 2016 multi-millionaire businessman, philanthropist, and donor Elzie Higginbottom hosted Democratic US Senator Garry Peters of Michigan for an intimate breakfast of small business owners and entrepreneurs.  Senator Peters  provided the attendees with an inside perspective on the inner workings of Congress and the differences between serving in the House and Senate.  Peters also provided the attendees IMG_5546with insights on the challenges in getting his Republican colleagues to recognize the need for federal involvement in the Flint Water Crisis.

Peters, who serves on the Commerce, Science, & Transportation CommitteeHomeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee, Joint Economic Committee, and Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee provided meeting attendees with the opportunity to ask questions as well as provide recommendations on how to create opportunities for small business owners.  When questioned on the actions the Small Business Authority was taking to discuss the institutional barriers that prevent Black businesses from doing business with the federal government, Peters highlighted the advances the agency has made with “minorities.” Meeting attendees were quick to highlight the differences between advances for “Black” businesses versus “minority” businesses for Peters, who seemed to be clear by the end of the meeting.

While I can’t share all the details of our conversation, outside of the business questions, the two most interesting tidbits that I took away from Senator Peters’ visit were…

Cyber security is the most insidious threat facing our country, and Ted Cruz is a much more dangerous Presidential candidate that Donald Trump!

And to think… I was worried about ISIS!
#mazesaid

 

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#MazeSaid Reviews “United Shades of America” featuring W. Kamau Bell

IMG_5525

by

Maze Jackson

 

This past Thursday, April 7th, I had the opportunity to attend the Rolling Out Chicago screening of comedian W. Kamau Bell’s new CNN series, “United Shades of America.”  The scripted reality series features Bell placing himself in situations that the audience would not expect to find a Black person in.  The première featured Bell meeting with modern-day members of the Ku Klux Klan.

The entire concept of a Black man meeting with KKK members in full regalia is sensational and attention grabbing to say the least.  When the episode opened and Bell was forced to meet a Klansman on a dark deserted road, I did feel the pace of my heart speeding up as all of my childhood fears of the Klan were rekindled.  The placement of the first commercial cliffhanger kept me in suspense for the first break.  And that’s where the whole thing came apart for me.

I was already trying to figure out what self-respecting Klansmen would allow themselves to be interviewed by a Black comedian on camera?  After the first interview, my suspicions were confirmed…these were not self-respecting Klansmen, but local trailer park dwellers looking for their shot at reality star fame, Bo0-Boo Kitty meets David Duke style.  I found it hard to take a Klansmen visibly wearing shorts and flip-flops under the his robe seriously. I. JUST. COULDN’T.

The climax of the show was the ceremonial cross burning, the ultimate symbol of terrorism against Blacks in America, but somehow the show found a way to make it anti-climatic.  In fact, instead of being terrified or angry, I thought it looked kind of cool in the night sky.  So much for Black terror.

Immediately after the screening was a Q&A Session with Bell and Rolling Out Publisher Munson Steed.  During the Q&A, I got a better understanding of Bell’s goal for the show, which was to have uncomfortable conversations, something that I like to do in my social media life as well, so that part of the show I appreciated.  Where I think the episode missed the mark was the fact that the Klansmen came off as buffoons and non-threatening which I think could be dangerous in the long run.

IMG_5531
There are real hate groups out there, who can cause real damage and harm in the Black community.  We saw it with Dylan Ruth during the Charleston Massacre in South Carolina in which nine innocent Black people were killed.  There are real hate groups out there, and they are neither cute nor funny, they are dangerous.  I did not appreciate Bell making them seem funny and dimwitted.  Oh wait, he’s a comedian, so perhaps that was the goal.

Radical-Christianity3

Nonetheless, in spite on my distaste for the first episode, I do look forward to future episodes that deal with more realistic issues. It’s hard to take a Black man interviewing the Klan seriously, it felt very Dave Chapelle-ish.  I will give “United Shades of America” three episodes to get it together, because I really like the concept. My hope is that the show will get better as it takes on more realistic issues in future episodes.

United Shades of America gets 2 and 1/2 stars.

#mazesaid

 

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Is the U of Chicago hypocritical for funding youth activists while it’s own police department is accused of racial profiling?

Once again, the University of Chicago Police Department finds itself in the controversial position of being accused of racial profiling against the residents of the community it is assigned to patrol.  Apparently the data backs those claims up.  Among other things, the report found:

African-Americans make up approximately 59 percent of the population in UCPD’s patrol area but 93 percent of UCPD’s field interviews, as the investigatory stops are called when the person is on foot. Read the full story here.

That has to be troubling for Black youth activist movements  such as BYP 100 and others that receive a significant amount of funding from the institution.  While local Black youth activism has always been present in Chicago, the recent string of murders of unarmed Blacks gave those organizations a renewed sense of purpose.  Locally, when the LaQuan McDonald dashcam video was released, it was those same organizations that took to the streets and led the charge for police reform in CPD.  That resulted in the firing of Garry McCarthy, a new IPRA chief, and eventually a new police superintendent.

But now with their funders’ own police department under scrutiny, will they attack the U of C police with the same fervor?  I guess we” see how well the U of C invested those dollars.

What do you think?  Post a comment.

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MJSMQOTW: Should Illinois Restrict Transgender Bathroom Use

While North Carolina has received international backlash, for a similar bill, Illinois Republican State Representative Tommy Morrison has introduced HB4474 in Springfield that would restrict the bathrooms that transgender students can use in schools, field trips, and school sponsored overnight stays.  While the bill makes the restrictions “optional” it would allow schools to adopt the policy, which LGBT groups claim is discriminatory.  Tune in to The Matt McGill Morning Show on WVON 1690-AM for The Maze Jackson Social Media Question of the Week, where I will ask:

Should transgender students in public schools be able to use the bathroom of the sex that they identify as, or what it says on the person’s birth certificate?

Call in to 773-591-1690, post to Facebook, or Tweet and we will try to get your comments on the air.  You can also watch what goes on Behind the Scenes on FACEBOOK LIVE.  Just click here at 8am and watch us live.

LGBT Groups Gear Up Against Transgender Restroom Bill

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ILLINOISMANATI

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Maze Jackson

While many people in the world think of Chicago as the focal point of Illinois, it is really Springfield, a small town in central Illinois with a population of just under 120,000 people that makes the state go. Springfield, like any other city has a local government, with a mayor and city council, but unlike any other city in Illinois, it also has a monarchy, run by its king and the most powerful man in Illinois, Speaker of the House Mike Madigan and his court of legislators, lobbyists, lawyers, and union members. It’s a world that many in the Black community do not understand, but that controls our very existence.

Mike Madigan Background

Mike Madigan is the state representative of the 22nd District, a Southwest Side ward that is centered near Midway Airport. It is composed of Chicago, Burbank, and the Bedford Park communities. Madigan was elected State Representative of the District January 13, 1971, became Speaker of the House in 1983, and has remained in that position since that time, with the exception of two years. Madigan was defeated as Speaker of the House in 1995, when the Republicans Led by Lee Daniels, took control of the Illinois House of Representatives. It is rumored that Madigan, known for his determination, discipline, and relentless pursuit of power began knocking on doors the morning after his defeat, and by the next election in 1997, he retook the House, and has remained the unquestioned leader of Springfield since that time.

Madigan was born a Democrat, the son of a New Deal Democrat father also named Michael, who believed in the benefits government could provide people. He passed that tradition along to his son and namesake, who would eventually ascend to the position of most powerful Democrat in the state. On the path to that title, Madigan, who grew up in the Clearing neighborhood, a predominately Irish Catholic neighborhood, attended St. Adrian’s elementary school, St. Ignatius College Prep, and the University of Notre Dame. He went on to attend law school at Loyola University in Chicago.

Madigan distinguished himself early in his political life by becoming a favorite of Mayor Richard J. Daley. Eventually, Madigan and Daley’s eldest son, Richard M. Daley would start their political careers at the same time, when the two served as delegates to the Illinois Constitutional Convention. Even though Madigan and the younger Daley eventually became bitter rivals, Mayor Richard J. Daley would eventually go on to appoint Madigan to a job in the City Law Department, allowing him to pay for his law school tuition.   After completion Madigan partnered up with fellow Loyola graduate Vincent J. “Bud” Getzendanner, Jr. to form Madigan & Getzendanner, a property tax appeals firm. Since forming the law firm, Madigan has saved businesses millions in property taxes, at the same time making himself a millionaire, while fighting for “Democratic values.”

Madigan Machine

 While Madigan himself is a millionaire, he has used his position as Speaker of the House to amass power through the distribution of wealth, jobs, and contracts to build a political organization “so gangster that Don Corleone would be scared to mess with him,” said a Springfield insider who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation. While federal investigations and Shakman decrees have crippled the once powerful Democratic Machine in Illinois, Madigan’s Machine keeps just keeps on rolling. Many complain that Madigan has no real concern for the people, just the power.

They point to his recent financial outpouring of over $200 million for new schools in the Latino community, while CPS was closing over 50 schools in predominately Black neighborhoods.   Madigan even jettisoned his White state senator and replaced him with a Latino state senator to burnish his Latino credentials.

Legislature

The engine that makes the Madigan Machine go is a compliant legislature, willing to go along with the Speaker’s program regardless of the impacts to their community. To ensure compliance, Madigan works hard to make sure that his members have no opponents in their elections. By doing this, Madigan makes it possible for the legislators to defy their communities to do his bidding with no consequence.

With no opponent, most members of the state legislature can take the rose garden approach campaigning, only going where they are fawned over and complimented, never having to answer the tough questions. That insulation is what provides Black legislators in particular the cover from having to explain why the state’s economic resources so often miss the Black community, while making it to areas like Beverly, Oak Lawn, and Evergreen Park. Madigan’s iron fisted control of the legislature is what drives the machine, so Madigan uses whatever tactics necessary, from fear, intimidation, contracts, or oppositional candidates to maintain that control.

Lawyers

Madigan’s ability to manipulate the laws of the land also play a significant role in his power. Madigan employs a team of lawyers that are subject matter experts in every area of the state and in politics.   Often times those lawyers are former Madigan staffers and loyalists who have gone on to graduate from law school. During their time in law school, they are generally assigned to Madigan’s consigliere, Atty. Mike Kasper, to handle challenges against Madigan’s House members. Once they have completed law school, those lawyers are dispersed in legal departments throughout state , governmental agencies, and corporations.

While in those positions, they make lucrative salaries and make sure the Speaker’s will is carried out on demand. Madigan also uses law firms to reward political loyalists while staying away from the public scrutiny.  Even though lobbyists play a key role in the transfer of money, it is through law firms where Madigan enriches his most loyal subjects and members, by forcing corporations to do business with his preferred law firms. In turn, those law firms raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for Madigan by way of campaign contributions. Outside of labor unions, members of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association are among Madigan’s top contributors.

Lobbyists

 While lobbyists have garnered a nefarious reputation, they are key to passing the laws that govern our state. Lobbyists serve as trusted policy experts on specific issues for legislators who are bombarded with thousands of bills each session. On small issues, it’s every man for himself mentality, but when a company has a big issue that they need solved in Springfield, the lobbyists are expected to collect the king’s ransom. It’s often said in Springfield, “every bill that passes makes or loses someone millions of dollars.”

With so much at stake, companies are willing to do anything they are told, and they often ask the Speaker who should they hire as a lobbyist. Based on whose “turn” it is, or the issue, they are assigned a lobbyist. The lobbyist assignments for both sides are given out by Mike McClain, a former legislator turned lobbyist, who is now commonly called “Mike Madigan’s Messenger to Corporate America.” Once hired, generally at fees upwards of $10,000 per month, the lobbyists set out to “convince” Madigan ‘s legislators to vote for or against the issue. The Speaker knows how the vote will go in advance and the game is fixed, but win or lose, Madigan’s lobbyists get paid their fees. In turn, they pay their “tax” through the companies they represent.

Unfortunately, the number of Black lobbyists in Springfield is extremely small and their clients tend to be small social service agencies. When they do happened to get large clients they are often responsible for lobbying the entire Black Caucus. Conversely, their White counterparts make double the fees for one tenth of the work. Outside of Springfield, Black lobbyist would have an EEOC claim for hostile work environment.

When the big deals get cut, often times the lobbyists work out the deals with no Black lobbyist in the room, leaving the interests of the Black community unaddressed. Typically, when the final bill is voted on, there has been no Black input. And because Madigan controls the compliant legislature with an iron fist, most Black Caucus members are unwilling to challenge him, even when it means the Black community gets left out.

UNIONS

If lobbyists are considered Madigan’s messengers, then the trade unions could be considered Madigan’s enforcers. Trade unions are made up of and led by predominately White Irish men.   The trade unions supply Madigan with an endless supply of troops and “resources” (dues) to fight and finance anyone who dares challenge Madigan. These same trade unions are often accused, by members of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, of limited Black membership and relegating potential young Blacks to never-ending apprenticeship program. Black Caucus members have quietly fought trade unions on this to no avail, while the speaker remains silent on the issue. Because they know they serve as the Speaker’s enforcers, the trade unions are protected from their openly discriminatory practices without fear of retribution.

Over the last 45 years, governors have changed, members have changed, even centuries have changed, but one thing remains constant in Illinois, Speaker Mike Madigan. At age 73, Speaker Madigan will not have to deal with consequences of his 40 plus year reign, but Illinoisans will be paying for it for generations to come. So as the House that Madigan built crumbles under it’s own weight, the only question that remains is will Illinois survive?

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