The end of Boss Madigan, the man who destroyed Illinois

Madigan graphic courtesy of the Illinois Policy Institute

By John Ruberry

Had this event not occurred on the same day President Donald J. Trump was impeached a second time, the failure of Michael Madigan to win a 19th term as speaker of the Illinois House would have made national news. The luck of the Irish was somehow with him on his worst day in his 52 years in politics.

There is much to criticize with Madigan. While the one sentence summary of the Chicago Democrat’s career might be “Longest statehouse speaker tenure in American history,” it instead needs to be, “The man who destroyed Illinois.”

Here’s a graph created by the Illinois Policy Institute–which has been on the forefront of exposing Madigan to the masses for a decade–that shows the decline of Illinois’ credit rating. And the rating began its descent early in Madigan’s tenure as speaker. To be fair, it was Gov. Jim Thompson, a Republican, who in 1989 signed into law the annual compounded three-percent cost-of-living public pension raise for retired state employees, but that bill emerged from Madigan’s House. Nearly all state workers are members of public-sector unions, those unions have been an important cog for the Madigan Machine. Other GOP governors share some of the blame for the Illinois pension bomb. But for all but two years since 1983, Madigan was speaker and he had his hands on every budget since then. 

Illlinois’ credit rating now hovers slightly over junk status.

The Prairie State has lost population for seven straight years. People have wised up. After the 2020 reapportionment Illinois will once again lose a congressional district. Perhaps two.

Madigan’s political mentor was the first Mayor Daley, Richard J, the legendary boss of Chicago. Madigan was America’s last machine boss. As mayor Daley was also chairman of Cook County Democratic Party, since 1998 Madigan has been chairman of state party, a post that he, at least for now, retains. Like Daley, Madigan would reward his political supporters and their relatives with jobs, usually public-sector jobs. But recent scandals involving private-sector entities, including the Chicago area’s electrical utility, Commonwealth Edison, betrayed the burden of the pension bomb that is eating away at Illinois government. Allegedly ComEd was handing out jobs, as lowly as meter readers, to Madigan loyalists. The ComEd scandal has produced several indictments, including the company’s former CEO and some Madigan loyalists. A separate scandal centered around red-light cameras has bagged other Madigan cronies. These political brushfires, on top of allegations of sexual harrassment against a member of Madigan’s inner circle, finally made the Madigan name toxic. 

The result in 2020 was better-than expected results for the anemic Illinois Republican Party. Best of all, the so-called Fair Tax Amendment, would have replaced Illinois’ flat income tax with a graduated one, was resoundingly defeated. A majority of Illinoisans finally ascertained, as I quipped at the time, that if Illinois was given an unlimited budget, politicians here would still exceed it. 

Another sin against democracy committed by Madigan is gerrymandered legislative districts, unintended artwork that would make Jackson Pollock or Pablo Picasso proud. “The state’s legislative map looks like a Rorschach test on steroids,” Robert Reed wrote in 2019 for Chicago Magazine, “with districts of all squiggly sizes and shapes.” With a few exceptions, such as university towns, Republicans dominate downstate Illinois in gubernatorial and presidential races, but there are still plenty of central and Illinois Democratic members of the General Assembly. That is the power of Madigan’s gerrymandering. It also discourages challengers to the status quo; according to the Center Square, last year 44 percent of Illinois legislative races were uncontested. Why run? Because in most districts in Illinois the politicians choose their voters, not the other way around.

Illinoisans would have been better served if there was not a Madigan monoculture in power for years in Springfield.

Groups such as the Better Government Association of Illinois and the League of Women Voters have long called for a Fair Map Amendement, taking away the power of decennial legislative remapping away from the General Assembly and putting a non-partisan panel in charge of the task instead. Twice in the prior decade hundreds of thousands of signatures were collected to put such an amendment on the ballot for voters to decide the issue, twice a lawyer with ties to Madigan successfully sued to keep it off. Last year, for the first time ever, a state Supreme Court justice, Democrat Thomas Kilbride, who represented a downstate district, failed to win retention. His vote against the Fair Map Amendment was one of the issues that galvanized opposition from voters.

Illinois’ Democratic governor, J.B. Pritzker, finally the state’s most powerful politician now that Madigan is no longer speaker, has vowed only to sign only a fair map into law. 

Don’t hold your breath on that one.

Madigan’s successor is Chris Welch, a suburban Chicagoan who was once a member of the Madigan Machine. He’ll be the Land of Lincoln’s first black speaker. But there is already a cloud over him. In 2002 he allegedly slammed the head of his girfriend repeatedly on to a kitchen countertop. Eight years later another woman claimed that she lost her job at a high school because Welch, then a school board president, broke up with her. 

Still there is reason to have at least a glimmer for hope in Illinois. But barring a change in federal law that would allow states to declare bankruptcy, Illinois will remain in its financial sewer for many years. A different amendment to the Illinois constitution, one that will allow pension reform and remove the pension guarantee clause, is desperetely needed. 

John Ruberry regularly blogs in Illinois at Marathon Pundit.

Futility league season 2, SD Jones League season 1 and all time great league season 3 standings 1/17/21

Here is the state of the table top baseball leagues I run. All leagues are 162 game seasons with one 3 game series scheduled per week

League one is the 2nd season of my Dynasty Baseball All Futility League (all teams lost 96 + games). Teams available for those interested are listed. If you click on the link for the various teams you get to their home page and can see their stats, leaders, injuries etc. Games are scheduled for Thursdays.

Teams AL Division AWinsLossesPCTGBAvailable
1970 Milwaukee Brewers3226.544—–No
1970 Chicago White Sox3027.5261No
2002 Tampa Bay Devil Rays2433.4217Yes
2003 Detroit Tigers2238.36710 1/2No
Teams AL Division BWinsLossesPCTGBAvailable
1970 Kansas City Royals3423.596—–No
2012 Minnesota Twins3225.5612No
2008 Seattle Mariners3228.5223 1/2Yes
1973 Texas Rangers 2433.42110No
Teams AL Division C Wins Losses PCT GB Available
2009 Cleveland Indians 30 27 .526 —– No
1957 Washington Senators 30 27 .526 —- No
2019 Baltimore Orioles 26 31 .456 4 No
1967 Kansas City A’s 25 32 .439 5 No
Teams NL Division A Wins Losses PCT GB Available
1998 Montreal Expos 38 19 .667 —– No
2009 Washington Nationals 29 28 .509 9 Yes
2001 Pittsburgh Pirates  30 30 .500 9 1/2 Yes
 1998 Florida Marlins 27 30 .474 11 Yes
Teams NL Division B Wins Losses PCT GB Available
2015 Atlanta Braves 28 29 .491 —–  No
2017 San Francisco Giants 27 33 .450 2 1/2 No
2012 Houston Astros 25 32 .439 3 Yes
2000 Philadelphia Phillies 23 31 .426 3 1/2 Yes
Teams NL Division C Wins Losses PCT GB Available
1993 New York Mets 32 22 .593 —– No
1982 Cincinnati Reds 32 25 .561 1 1/2 No
1993 San Diego Padres 28 29 .491 5 1/2 Yes
1974 Chicago Cubs 28 29 .491 5 1/2 No

The SD Jones memorial .500 teams league is a league where all teams were no better than 2 games over .500 or no worse than 2 games under. Here are the current standings. Teams still available are listed. This is our initial season. Games are scheduled for Tuesdays.

Teams AL East Wins Losses PCT GB Available
1993 Boston 18 12 .600 —– No
1967 Washington 14 16 .467 4 Yes
1973 New York (A) 13 17 .433 5 Yes
1957 Baltimore 13 20 .394 6 1/2 Yes
Teams AL Central Wins Losses PCT GB Available
2010 Detroit 21 12 .636 —– Yes
1975 Cleveland 16 14 .533 3 1/2 No
1973 Minnesota 14 19 .424 7 No
1998 Chicago (A) 12 18 .400 7 1/2 No
Teams AL West Wins Losses PCT GB Available
2017 Kansas City 21 9 .700 —– Yes
2010 Oakland 19 14 .576 3 1/2 No
2005 Toronto 11 19 .367 10 Yes
2018 Los Angeles (A) 11 19 .367 10 Yes
Teams NL East Wins Losses PCT GB Available
1967 Pittsburgh 24 12 .667 —– No
2018 Washington 22 11 .667 1/2 No
1975 New York (N) 17 19 .472 7 Yes
1957 Philadelphia 14 16 .467 7 Yes
Teams NL Central Wins Losses PCT GB Available
1975 St. Louis 15 15 .500 —– Yes
 2000 Colorado 15 15 .500 —- Yes
1996 Cincinnati 13 17 .433 2 Yes
1973 Houston 12 18 .422 3 Yes
Teams NL West Wins Losses PCT GB Available
1975 San Francisco 24 9 .727 —– Yes
2007 Los Angeles (N) 14 16 .467 8 1/2 Yes
2012 Arizona  12 18 .400 10 1/2 Yes
1982 San Diego 10 20 .333 12 1/2 Yes

My 3rd league is our great teams league starting its 3rd season. Last season the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers repeated as world champs defeating the 2010 Texas Rangers 4 games to two. Can they three peat? And what team would YOU like to manage to try and stop them? We’ve just started so only a few games have been played so if you’re interested jump right in. Games are scheduled for Fridays.

Teams AL EastWinsLossesPCTGBAvailable
1993 Toronto21.667—–Yes
1970 Baltimore00.0001/2Yes
1999 Boston00.0001/2No
1961 Yankess12.3331No
Teams AL CentralWinsLossesPCTGBAvailable
1954 Cleveland00.000—–Yes
1974 Oakland00.000—-Yes
2006 Detroit00.000—-Yes
2010 Texas00.000—-Yes
Teams AL OtherWinsLossesPCTGBAvailable
1924 Washington00.000—–No
1967 Minnesota00.000—–Yes
1977 Kansas City00.000—–Yes
2009 New York (A)00.000—–Yes
Teams NL EastWinsLossesPCTGBAvailable
1975 Cincinnati201.000—–Yes
1955 Brooklyn00.0001Yes
2019 Washington Nats00.-0001No
1998 Atlanta02.0002No
Teams NL CentralWinsLossesPCTGBAvailable
1957 Milwaukee00.000—–Yes
1971 Pittsburgh00.000—–Yes
1985 St. Louis00.000—–No
2003 Cubs00.000—–Yes
Teams NL OtherWinsLossesPCTGBAvailable
1977 Philadelphia00.000—–Yes
2001 Arizona00.000—–Yes
2007 Colorado00.000—–Yes
2016 Chicago (N)00.000—–No

If you are interested in taking over the management of any of these teams contact me in comments.