Can't let map amendment fail

Can't let map amendment fail

A bipartisan group of high-profile politicos have endorsed the "Yes for Independent Maps" movement, the latest being former Gov. Jim Edgar.

Jim Edgar's recent endorsement of a proposed state constitutional amendment requiring independent legislative redistricting came as no great surprise. He's always been a good-government guy, and the plan to strip members of the House and Senate of their ability to pick their own voters, rather than the other way around, is the ultimate good-government measure.

But Edgar's endorsement does provide another opportunity to emphasize just how important the "Yes for Independent Maps" effort is if Illinois ever is to have a chance to lift itself out of the financial and political quagmire it's in now.

Our ever-self-interested legislators — thanks to many years of short-sighted decisions — have driven Illinois to its knees. Unfortunately, they will continue to remain beyond the reach of voters until a new legislative map-drawing process that puts the public first, rather than the politicians, is adopted.

Voters will have the opportunity to approve a measure that would strip legislators of their legal authority to draw their own district lines if backers of independent maps collect at least 300,000 signatures by the May 4 deadline.

Michael Kolenc, who is spearheading this effort, said the signature collection process is "going great." But he's declined to say how many signatures have been collected.

The Illinois League of Women Voters took the same secretive approach four years ago when they engaged in a similar effort to put an independent-maps proposal on the ballot. They fell well short of the number of signatures that were required. So it's hard to know whether to be pleased or worried about Kolenc's public comments.

What really matters, however, is that everyone who supports the idea of giving voters more choices on Election Day sign the petition for an independent map-drawing process.

The issue may seem complicated to some, but it's really not.

Legislative districts are redrawn every 10 years to account for populations shifts and changes. Under that arrangement, the party in power in the General Assembly draws district lines that give itself a big political advantage. The result is that few incumbents can be seriously challenged and even fewer races are competitive. It's an incumbent protection racket for both parties — one in the permanent majority and the other in the permanent minority — that effectively cuts the voters out of an election process they are, at least theoretically, supposed to control.

The independent-map effort would strip legislators from the redistricting process and put it in the hands of an independent commission charged with drawing House and Senate districts that are compact, contiguous and not intended to provide either party an advantage.

There still would be some districts that overwhelmingly favor one party or another. But there also would be more districts where voters would have a real choice on Election Day.

That would make legislators more responsive to the people who elect them rather than to the party leaders who provide for them once they get to Springfield.

This should not be a partisan issue. When Republicans controlled the Legislature in the early 1990s, they tried, but failed, to gerrymander themselves into a permanent majority. When Democrats held majority status in 2002 and 2012, they were much more effective in their effort to give themselves permanent control. They now hold overwhelming numerical advantages in both the House and the Senate.

That kind of permanent one-party control — no matter what party — is not in the public interest. It encourages public corruption and public disinterest, a combination that undermines the democratic process.

The independent-map effort, if successful, won't be a cure-all. It is, however, a great way to get our legislators' attention.

Unfortunately, people have to put this measure on the ballot through the petition process because House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton will never do it. Indeed, they can be expected to use every tactic they can think of to strike this measure from the ballot if the petition drive is successful.

Those who care about the future of this state must step up. Locally, petitions are available at the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce, 303 W. Kirby Ave., C. Individuals like Barbara Wysocki (367-5014 or of the League of Women Voters are circulating petitions throughout the community.

Time is drawing short, and this effort cannot be allowed to fail. If it does, the people of Illinois will have only themselves to blame.

Sections (2):Editorials, Opinion
Tags (1):2014 election

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Political Observer wrote on February 23, 2014 at 3:02 pm

And now for our laugh of the day!  This News-Gazette editorial proudly proclaims "Individuals like Barbara Wysocki ... are circulating petitions throughout the community!"  [Heh-heh-heh!  Yes, this community has many problems, but things are really bad when the News-Gazette starts bragging about them!]

Anyway, for sure, that's the "money quote" in the article, right there!  (And speaking of "money," yes, there is indeed a lot of right-wing money behind this effort to amend the Illinois Constitution!)

Political Observer wrote on February 23, 2014 at 4:02 pm

Now, after we've finished laughing and have gotten back up into our chair, we must indeed salute the News-Gazette for "telling it like it is," even if their observation post just happens to be from some far-distant planet, far outside our known galaxy.

To be sure, the N-G is correct that this effort is backed not only by Republican Chairman Habeeb Habeeb and all kinds of Republicans, but also by many "Beckett-ocrats" like Barbara Wysocki, who pretended to be a Democrat when she ran for office but then made a secret deal with Republicans to become Chair of the County Board, by combining every last one of the Republican votes for the position with those of a small number of defecting, fellow Beckett-ocrats, in order to subvert the choice of the Democratic caucus.

Political Observer wrote on February 23, 2014 at 5:02 pm

Anyway, it would probably be no surprise to many Democrats that after wandering in the wilderness for so long while Republicans did all the redistricting, they would finally get *their own* chance to take charge of things after the data of the 2010 census became available, but then, before they even had a chance to fully enjoy their long-sought opportunity, Barbara Wysocki and her many Republican friends would already be making plans to try taking it all back away from them, just so she could put it in the hands of some magically-selected, pie-in-the-sky "non-partisan commission" presided over by the Illinois state comptroller, Republican Judy Baar Topinka!

Thanks, just ever so much, Barbara!  We'll truly never forget you!


Political Observer wrote on February 23, 2014 at 5:02 pm

But let's move beyond the "Wysocki's Revenge on Democrats Issue," and look at other issues, as well.

Why, one might ask, is there such an extreme sense of urgency in the editorial?

Note that the petition signatures aren't due until May 4th, according to the article, so there's still a week remaining in February, then all of March and all of April for people to find out what this big-money, corporate-sponsored petition effort is actually all about.  So why is the News-Gazette trying so hard to stampede its readers into giving their non-revocable support for it, right away, before they've even looked at both sides of the issue?

Well, one possibility might be that the N-G is afraid you'll find out about the support the effort is getting from "Reboot Illinois!"  (In other words, once you look at the "Reboot Illinois" website, and see the names of  Ken and Anne Griffin, right next to the name of Habeeb Habeeb in the list of big supporters of this Pie-In-The-Sky Amendment, you might just lose your lunch, and not feel like signing anymore!)

P.S. If you don't happen to remember who billionaire hedge-fund owners Ken and Anne Griffin are, that's OK...Just copy and paste this phrase into the search query box of your favorite search engine:

"money laundering" "Rodney Davis" "Doug Ibendahl"

Even though this is a topic that the News-Gazette apparently doesn't want you to know much about, Mr. Google is pleased to inform you that it's an important issue that's been widely discussed among those interested in Illinois politics.


alabaster jones 71 wrote on February 23, 2014 at 7:02 pm
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Ramble on all you want, but non-partisan map drawing commissions have worked very well in other Iowa and California, just to name a couple.

Of course you and other partisan hacks love gerrymandering, but the rest of us don't.

Political Observer wrote on February 24, 2014 at 12:02 am

Gee, thanks for the link, Mr. Alabaster Jones.  In all the time I've posted here, this is the very first time I've ever seen you post a link to anything.  I didn't think that you had the capability to do that sort of a thing, as a syndicated cartoon character... For that matter, I'm pretty sure that this is likely the first time I've ever replied to a syndicated cartoon character that has posted a link...and most certainly to a link that you've posted, anyway.

Let me respond to your link, by posting a link back, for you, my animated friend:


"Alabaster Jones is a pimp who lives in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma."   [Snip]

"He drives a highly ornamented Duesenberg and wears expensive and stylish clothing."   [Snip]

"Alabaster had a small cameo as a pimp being beaten by Virtual Hank of the video game in the episode "Grand Theft Arlen".  "


Now, I might mention that I've actually read your link, and I had quite a good laugh in the process.

You do know who Michael Bloomberg is, right?  You know, the billionaire who started Bloomberg News Service!...Or isn't that too well-known out there in King-of-the-Hill Cartoon Land?

It seems to me that Bloomberg News Service, the business-related news service that really seems to love other millionaires and billionaires, really loves the new California way of doing things.  And I can see why!  Can you see why, too, boys and girls at home in King-of-the-Hill TV-Land?

Well, this is a system to get rid of any source of legislative power, any source of party power, any kind of experience factor ... and probably most of the current elected officals, as well.  And what we're supposed to get is a complete utopia, a virtual heaven on earth, a system where every legislator is a perfect clone of Jimmy Stewart in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington!" (and probably a lifetime member of the League of Woman Voters, as well...before it was taken over by Barbara Wysocki.)

So where would the expertise come from, in writing legislation, after you've thrown out all the experts, and replaced them by brand new, fresh smiley faces?  Gee, only the lobbyists would know what's going on, right?  And the lobbyists are owned by the millionaires and billionaires.  And, of course, in Illinois the campaign contribution problem hasn't been fixed, so the millionaires and billionaires would be the only people who could buy both all the big-time lobbyists and buy all the candidates and the elections.  You'd have an entire legislature full of John Shimkuses and Rodney Davises...and well, OK, you'd probably have a few Joe Walsh, deadbeat-dad-types thrown in as well!

If the cartoon schools in King-of-the-Hill Land were a bit better, you might have noticed that I'd just been arguing that there's big money interests behind Barbara Wysocki's crazy plan -- people like Ken and Anne Griffin, who provided the dirty money for Rodney Davis' big money-laundering scheme that pulled the Illinois Republican Party out of the red, and many others, too, that I hadn't gotten around to naming yet.  People like, for example,  the fine Republicans at the Illinois Manufacturer's Association, who provide the numbers for the fake "We Ask America" polls that Tom Kacich is always citing, despite their wacko numbers. (I imagine Barbara would tell us that the people at IMA are really,  really very nice people like Al Nudo and Rick Winkel, once you get to know them, just like Ken and Anne Griffin, who are so wonderful to give some of their petty cash funds from their  billions in hedge fund money to fund "Good Government" of, by and for the rich.)

So, you see, you kind of made my point, I think, that the rich really are salivating for this to go through.  (Perhaps, since you drive a Dusenberg and have made a lot of money in the cartoon pimp business, you want to buy some cartoon-version of Shimkus and Dimkus politicians, yourself?) 

Do you have other follow-up links you'll be posting soon, that this kind of system is really loved by the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board and The American Spectator, as well?

alabaster jones 71 wrote on February 26, 2014 at 4:02 pm
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Too long, didn't read.

All we need to know here is that you would be singing the praises of this amendment if the tables were turned, and it had been Republicans instead of Democrats ruthlessly gerrymandering districts the past two times maps were drawn.

Such is the life of a ideological cripple incapable or unwilling to think objectively (aka a Democrat or a Republican).  Non partisan map drawing should be the law in all 50 states, at every level of government.  Anything else is a slap in the face to the concept of representative government.

Political Observer wrote on February 24, 2014 at 2:02 am

Oh, by the way, there's really a massive amount of fraud going on in this petition drive, in case anybody who's at least half-way honest would actually be interested in taking a look at it.  The Champaign Chapter of the League of Women Voters actually had the top petition-gatherer from the Peoria Chapter stop by the Champaign Library and tell everyone the dirty little secrets of how you can get massive numbers of signatures in places where solicitation for political issues normally isn't allowed.  (See the forthcoming LWV "Guerilla Solicitation Techniques Manual" for further details!)

 And there was even some bragging that there's such a culture of hatred for politicians currently holding office that people would actually grab the clipboard right out of the hands of a LWV representative before she could even describe what the petition said in any detail.   (I guess when something is a Utopian Panacea you don't really need any details to spoil the Norman Rockwell painted image, do you?)

And everybody with their clipboards seems to have the talking points down pat.  Be sure to mention the supposed utopias now in both California and Iowa, and say that there are (supposedly) many, many articles out there that prove it!  (And, of course, all the reader comments at the ends of the articles are the most harmonious salutations of the finest writing in news articles that you've ever seen!)

Also, try to get everybody to think of Congressional approval ratings, and how low they are, because that's a really good strategy... even though the Illinois petition doesn't apply to U.S. Congressional races.  (Who needs to know about trivial little details like that!)  Our Fox cartoon friend from the King of the Hill TV show would probably say that details like that are only for the long-winded...Even though the article he posted has to do with Congressional races, hey, that's good enough for him...Deetails, Shmeetails, Don't sweat the small stuff! 

The millionaires and billionaires (the "Job Providers!")  behind this campaign are in a hurry, their time costs them money, so just hurry up and sign your name, just like the nice Editors at the News-Gazette have told you to do!  Don't waste time thinking about it...Just trust them! 

As the nice, non-partisan Tea Party lady from the League of Woman Voters will say as she extends to you her clipboard and tries to also hand you her pen, "Just go ahead and sign it, right there on the signature line!...After all, what could possibly be worse than what we currently have here in Illinois, right now!!" )

Wait a minute, wait a minute, hold it right there!...That reminds me of something I'm sure I've heard before!...

Isn't that the campaign slogan that Bruce Ranuer stole from Mitch Daniels in Indiana and Scott Walker in Wisconsin?

Political Observer wrote on February 24, 2014 at 2:02 am

Oh, yeah, here's another bit of dishonesty going on with the LWV campagin.  Apparently all the petition solicitors have been trained to say that Rahm Emanuel, the Mayor of Chicago, is a big supporter of this petition drive!  Yes, he's come right out and endorsed it!

Well,  the full-time employee who does outreach for the volunteers and supervises the many paid petition-gatherers, the shady character who was hired to run the whole thing is named Michael Kolenc, so let's do a websearch using

 "Michael Kolenc" "Rahm Emanuel"

as our search term, to see what turns up.

As it turns out, after a couple of clicks on  "Reboot Illinois!" links, we end up here:

at a cute little item titled "Emanuel, Top Dem Strategist: We Need Redistricting Reform."  The article discusses an interview that David Gregory conducted, and says that:


Earlier on the same stage, Gregory conducted a one-on-one interview with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.  Much to my surprise, Emanuel, unprompted, brought up the need for redistricting reform.

Emanuel described the current system, in which office-holders “choose their voters” as “upside down.”

The redistricting system “has to be fixed,” Emanuel said. “I say that as a practitioner.”

And that's all that the article attributes to Mr. Emanuel.

In other words, Mr. Emanuel only said that the redistricting problem had to be fixed.  He never specifically endorsed this particular system or said anything about Michael Kolenc...or the petition drive of the League of Women Voters.  It was just a perfectly generic statement of the kind that politicians often say, when they say that there is a problem (in this case, redistricting), and they don't really want to specify in detail exactly what steps they'll take to try to solve it.

So, unless there's some other direct quotation out there showing that on another occasion Mr. Emanuel actually endorsed this particular project, it doesn't look like Mr. Emanuel has specifically endorsed this particular signature-gathering drive.  (He isn't listed on the list of endorsers at RebootIllinois, either, by the way.)