Illinois is only a Partially Free state

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Illinois is only a Partially Free state

[cap­tion id=“attachment_95048” align=“alignright” width=“173”] Madi­gan car­i­ca­ture from the Illi­nois Pol­icy Institue[/caption]

By John Ruberry

Every year Free­dom House ranks nations on their lev­els of free­dom and coun­tries are clas­si­fied into three cat­e­gories. “Free, Par­tially Free, and Not Free.” The first cat­e­gory includes the United States, most of Europe, and Israel, among oth­ers. Not Free includes the usual sus­pects, Venezuela, Rus­sia, Saudi Ara­bia, China, and North Korea.

I believe if my home state of Illi­nois was ranked by Free­dom House it would fit into that mid­dle cat­e­gory, Par­tially Free. Of course we have elec­tions here. But are all of them free and fair elections?

Ear­lier this month the Chicago Tribune’s first-​rate colum­nist, John Kass, wrote about David Krupa, a 19-​year-​old DePaul Uni­ver­sity stu­dent who sup­ported Don­ald Trump two years ago, even though he was too young to vote. He is chal­leng­ing the incum­bent alder­man of the 13th Ward. That ward is the epi­cen­ter of the polit­i­cal machine, one that reaches down to the Ohio River, of Michael Madi­gan, the most pow­er­ful politi­cian in Illi­nois. He is the Demo­c­ra­tic com­mit­tee­man of that ward. Madi­gan has been speaker of the Illi­nois House for over three decades, he has been chair­man of the state Demo­c­ra­tic Party for twenty years. She leaves office in a few weeks, but the attor­ney gen­eral of Illi­nois is Lisa Madi­gan, Michael’s daughter.

Boss Madi­gan has long hand-​picked his alder­men,” Kass explained in that col­umn, “he likes them loyal and quiet. The cur­rent silent alder­man of the 13th Ward is Marty Quinn.”

To make it on the bal­lot for a Chicago alder­manic race, can­di­dates need 473 valid sig­na­tures from reg­is­tered vot­ers in the ward they are run­ning in. That seems easy, but sign­ers need to be reg­is­tered vot­ers in that ward, and the way wards are drawn in Chicago – Madi­gan is a mas­ter ger­ry­man­derer, more on that later – many wards, includ­ing the 13th, look as if they are jig­saw pieces fur­ther con­torted by Pablo Picasso. So can­vassers under­stand­ably get con­fused as to what ward they are stand­ing in when they are col­lect­ing signatures.

Krupa col­lected over 1,700 peti­tions, which seems like a safe num­ber for the poten­tial teenaged giant killer.

But then the Madi­gan machine unleashed its Star Wars Death Star upon the kid, as Kass recounted:

An orga­nized crew of polit­i­cal work­ers — or maybe just civic-​minded indi­vid­u­als who care about reform — went door to door with offi­cial legal papers. They asked res­i­dents to sign an affi­davit revok­ing their sig­na­ture on Krupa’s petition.

Revo­ca­tions are seri­ous legal doc­u­ments, signed and nota­rized. Lying on a legal doc­u­ment is a felony and can lead to a charge of per­jury. If you’re con­victed of per­jury, you may not work for a gov­ern­ment agency. And I know that there are many in the 13th Ward on the gov­ern­ment payroll.

More than 2,700 revo­ca­tions were turned over to the elec­tions board to can­cel the sig­na­tures on Krupa’s peti­tions. Chicago Board of Elec­tions offi­cials had never seen such a mas­sive pile of revocations.

The board has received a few revo­ca­tions here and there in very rare elec­toral board cases over the years,” said elec­tion board spokesman Jim Allen.

On Fox 32 Chicago’s Flan­nery Fired Up this morn­ing, Krupa was a guest.

They had no way of know­ing who signed my peti­tion and who didn’t,” he told Mike Flan­nery. “So they were basi­cally throw­ing darts in the dark and hop­ing that they hit. What they got was thou­sands of peo­ple who they coerced into com­mit­ting per­jury and that’s a really big issue and I’m going to take them to task for it.”

Do Vladimir Putin’s goons employ such tactics?

This is a huge per­ver­sion of democ­racy,” Krupa lamented to Hill​.TV. True, very true.

And does Quinn really fear this 19-​year-​old Trump­kin? Or is his overkill an apoc­a­lyp­tic warn­ing shot such as the one the Galac­tic Empire used to oblit­er­ate Alder­aan in the first Star Wars film? Sure, Krupa is a long shot against the Madi­gan Empire’s can­di­date, but let’s say he achieves 40 per­cent of the vote against Quinn? Will more can­di­dates step for­ward four years from now? Will oth­ers chal­lenge Madi­gan for ward com­mit­tee­man in 2020? Will the oppo­si­tion to the Machine become emboldened?

One Demo­c­ra­tic state representative-​elect refuses to back down on her vow not to vote for Madi­gan for speaker next year. She is already feel­ing pres­sure from unions and other Demo­c­ra­tic offi­cials to sub­mit to the Madi­gan Force.

There is a long tra­di­tion of chal­leng­ing nom­i­nat­ing peti­tions in Illi­nois. In 1996 Barack Obama forced an incum­bent, Alice Palmer, off of the bal­lot, which allowed him to run unop­posed in his first elec­toral race, a seat in the Illi­nois Senate.

Yes­ter­day, likely because of the national atten­tion the Kass col­umn received, Quinn dropped his chal­lenge to the Krupa peti­tions.

But Illi­nois is still Par­tially Free the way I see it. Madi­gan con­trols the state leg­isla­tive and con­gres­sional remaps. There are dozens of other con­torted jig­saw piece-​districts in Illi­nois. In the Prairie State, vot­ers don’t choose their rep­re­sen­ta­tives, Madi­gan chooses the vot­ers for those rep­re­sen­ta­tives. Which is why in the most recent state House elec­tions nearly half of the can­di­dates – both Repub­li­can and Demo­c­ra­tic–faced no gen­eral elec­tion oppo­nent. Lou Lang, who nom­i­nally rep­re­sents me in the lower cham­ber of the Gen­eral Assem­bly, has run unop­posed in five of the last six gen­eral elec­tions. Until recently Lang was a mem­ber of Madigan’s lead­er­ship team in Springfield.

Do you need more evidence?

Twice this decade Illi­noisans sup­plied hun­dreds of thou­sands of sig­na­tures to put a Fair Map Amend­ment before vot­ers to take away redis­trict­ing pow­ers away from politi­cians. Both times a lawyer tied to Madi­gan sued to pre­vent allow­ing vot­ers to have the final say. In 2014 a Demo­c­ra­tic judge blocked the amend­ment. Two years later the Fair Map amend­ment legal argu­ment made it all the way to the state Supreme Court. In a party line vote – jus­tices are elected in Illi­nois–the four Democ­rats voted to quash the amend­ment, the three Repub­li­cans sup­ported it.

The Illi­nois Con­sti­tu­tion is meant to pre­vent tyranny, not to enshrine it,” Jus­tice Robert Thomas wrote in his dissent.

Is Illi­nois a well-​run state? No. In my life­time four Illi­nois gov­er­nors have been sen­tenced to fed­eral prison. Illi­nois’ bonds are rated at one level above junk. Its unfunded pen­sion debt is among the worst of the fifty states and that debt is gen­er­ally viewed as unsus­tain­able. Illi­nois has been los­ing pop­u­la­tion every year since 2014. Illi­nois’ largest city, Chicago, faces sim­i­lar prob­lems and since 1973 over thirty alder­men have been con­victed of crimes. Cor­rup­tion is a mea­sure Free­dom House uses in its rankings.

Mil­lions of Illi­noisans are essen­tially being dis­en­fran­chised, or at least they are being denied a free and choice, by ger­ry­man­der­ing and Madigan’s Machine.

Sure, there is ger­ry­man­der­ing in other states, some of them are con­trolled by Repub­li­cans. The Illi­nois GOP has been guilty of ger­ry­man­der­ing too. But in the other 49 states, there is not any­one who approaches the power level of Boss Michael Madi­gan. None of those states are as dys­func­tional as Illi­nois. Few as are as corrupt.

Yes, Illi­nois is only Par­tially Free.

John Ruberry reg­u­larly blogs from Illi­nois at Marathon Pun­dit
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Madigan caricature from the Illinois Policy Institue

By John Ruberry

Every year Freedom House ranks nations on their levels of freedom and countries are classified into three categories. “Free, Partially Free, and Not Free.” The first category includes the United States, most of Europe, and Israel, among others. Not Free includes the usual suspects, Venezuela, Russia, Saudi Arabia, China, and North Korea.

I believe if my home state of Illinois was ranked by Freedom House it would fit into that middle category, Partially Free. Of course we have elections here. But are all of them free and fair elections?

Earlier this month the Chicago Tribune’s first-rate columnist, John Kass, wrote about David Krupa, a 19-year-old DePaul University student who supported Donald Trump two years ago, even though he was too young to vote. He is challenging the incumbent alderman of the 13th Ward. That ward is the epicenter of the political machine, one that reaches down to the Ohio River, of Michael Madigan, the most powerful politician in Illinois. He is the Democratic committeeman of that ward. Madigan has been speaker of the Illinois House for over three decades, he has been chairman of the state Democratic Party for twenty years. She leaves office in a few weeks, but the attorney general of Illinois is Lisa Madigan, Michael’s daughter.

“Boss Madigan has long hand-picked his aldermen,” Kass explained in that column, “he likes them loyal and quiet. The current silent alderman of the 13th Ward is Marty Quinn.”

To make it on the ballot for a Chicago aldermanic race, candidates need 473 valid signatures from registered voters in the ward they are running in. That seems easy, but signers need to be registered voters in that ward, and the way wards are drawn in Chicago–Madigan is a master gerrymanderer, more on that later–many wards, including the 13th, look as if they are jigsaw pieces further contorted by Pablo Picasso. So canvassers understandably get confused as to what ward they are standing in when they are collecting signatures.

Krupa collected over 1,700 petitions, which seems like a safe number for the potential teenaged giant killer.

But then the Madigan machine unleashed its Star Wars Death Star upon the kid, as Kass recounted:

An organized crew of political workers — or maybe just civic-minded individuals who care about reform — went door to door with official legal papers. They asked residents to sign an affidavit revoking their signature on Krupa’s petition.

Revocations are serious legal documents, signed and notarized. Lying on a legal document is a felony and can lead to a charge of perjury. If you’re convicted of perjury, you may not work for a government agency. And I know that there are many in the 13th Ward on the government payroll.

More than 2,700 revocations were turned over to the elections board to cancel the signatures on Krupa’s petitions. Chicago Board of Elections officials had never seen such a massive pile of revocations.

“The board has received a few revocations here and there in very rare electoral board cases over the years,” said election board spokesman Jim Allen.

On Fox 32 Chicago’s Flannery Fired Up this morning, Krupa was a guest.

“They had no way of knowing who signed my petition and who didn’t,” he told Mike Flannery. “So they were basically throwing darts in the dark and hoping that they hit. What they got was thousands of people who they coerced into committing perjury and that’s a really big issue and I’m going to take them to task for it.”

Do Vladimir Putin’s goons employ such tactics?

“This is a huge perversion of democracy,” Krupa lamented to Hill.TV. True, very true.

And does Quinn really fear this 19-year-old Trumpkin? Or is his overkill an apocalyptic warning shot such as the one the Galactic Empire used to obliterate Alderaan in the first Star Wars film? Sure, Krupa is a long shot against the Madigan Empire’s candidate, but let’s say he achieves 40 percent of the vote against Quinn? Will more candidates step forward four years from now? Will others challenge Madigan for ward committeeman in 2020? Will the opposition to the Machine become emboldened?

One Democratic state representative-elect refuses to back down on her vow not to vote for Madigan for speaker next year. She is already feeling pressure from unions and other Democratic officials to submit to the Madigan Force.

There is a long tradition of challenging nominating petitions in Illinois. In 1996 Barack Obama forced an incumbent, Alice Palmer, off of the ballot, which allowed him to run unopposed in his first electoral race, a seat in the Illinois Senate.

Yesterday, likely because of the national attention the Kass column received, Quinn dropped his challenge to the Krupa petitions.

But Illinois is still Partially Free the way I see it. Madigan controls the state legislative and congressional remaps. There are dozens of other contorted jigsaw piece-districts in Illinois. In the Prairie State, voters don’t choose their representatives, Madigan chooses the voters for those representatives. Which is why in the most recent state House elections nearly half of the candidates–both Republican and Democratic–faced no general election opponent. Lou Lang, who nominally represents me in the lower chamber of the General Assembly, has run unopposed in five of the last six general elections. Until recently Lang was a member of Madigan’s leadership team in Springfield.

Do you need more evidence?

Twice this decade Illinoisans supplied hundreds of thousands of signatures to put a Fair Map Amendment before voters to take away redistricting powers away from politicians. Both times a lawyer tied to Madigan sued to prevent allowing voters to have the final say. In 2014 a Democratic judge blocked the amendment. Two years later the Fair Map amendment legal argument made it all the way to the state Supreme Court. In a party line vote–justices are elected in Illinois–the four Democrats voted to quash the amendment, the three Republicans supported it.

“The Illinois Constitution is meant to prevent tyranny, not to enshrine it,” Justice Robert Thomas wrote in his dissent.

Is Illinois a well-run state? No. In my lifetime four Illinois governors have been sentenced to federal prison. Illinois’ bonds are rated at one level above junk. Its unfunded pension debt is among the worst of the fifty states and that debt is generally viewed as unsustainable. Illinois has been losing population every year since 2014. Illinois’ largest city, Chicago, faces similar problems and since 1973 over thirty aldermen have been convicted of crimes. Corruption is a measure Freedom House uses in its rankings.

Millions of Illinoisans are essentially being disenfranchised, or at least they are being denied a free and choice, by gerrymandering and Madigan’s Machine.

Sure, there is gerrymandering in other states, some of them are controlled by Republicans. The Illinois GOP has been guilty of gerrymandering too. But in the other 49 states, there is not anyone who approaches the power level of Boss Michael Madigan. None of those states are as dysfunctional as Illinois. Few as are as corrupt.

Yes, Illinois is only Partially Free.

John Ruberry regularly blogs from Illinois at Marathon Pundit
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