CN Nov 17 2016


Pat Quinn was our Governor from 2009-20015.

As you may recall, a billionaire financier named Bruce Rauner defeated him.

On today’s show, he briefly compares notes with Hillary Clinton, who was also defeated by a billionaire with no government experience.

“You know it’s easier winning than losing,” he tells us. “One day you’re a peacock, the next day a feather duster.”

Quinn arrived with his clipboard hand, never ceasing in his quest for petition signatures. Right now it’s his attempt t term-limit the Mayor of Chicago job to two four-year terms.

But he’s also quite active in National Popular Vote, the effort to get states with 270 electoral votes to sign legislation commanding their presidential Electors to vote consistent with the national popular vote in the Electoral College.  The effort’s about half-way done, and Illinois was the first state to approve it. He points out that Hillary Clinton’s popular vote may well end up being 2 million higher than Donald Trump’s.

So I do think we need to reform the electoral college, a creature of the 18th Century. I don’t think it’s really apropos to the 21st Century, and there’s a movement that I’ve supported called the National Popular Vote. Illinois actually passed a law about 2008 that said once 25 states, more than half the states have a law on their books that says that their electoral college members are bound by law to vote for the candidate for president who gets the most votes, then that will be the law of our country. You don’t need a Constitutional Amendment…Actually, it was devised to help the slave states, the electoral college, and I don’t think we should maintain that.

Donald Trump wants a really huge infrastructure program, but Pat Quinn wants to remind everyone that he had one years ago.

We were able to put together an infrastructure bill for our state; we called it Illinois Jobs Now, a $31-billion investment in roads and bridges and water systems, building new buildings, college buildings as well as school construction and high speed rail, great things. We had the biggest infrastructure program of any state in the country and those (Legislative) members made it possible. They wanted to do things, and the sad thing now is my successor basically when you look at it, what has happened in the last two years other than gridlock and lots of alibies, but you’re not getting anything done for the people.

We ask whether he sees a Republican tide sweeping even the urban areas in the next few years, leaving Illinois more like Wisconsin, which seems to have become solidly red under Scott Walker’s leadership. “No!” he says.

Hillary Clinton beat Trump by almost a million votes in our state. In fact, I think we’re much more the model for the United States. Illinois’ demography, the people who make up our state are the best reflection of the entire population of the United States, so we’re much more like the United States than any other state in the Midwest, even,  the whole country.

Perhaps it’s Trump’s victory that’s given Quinn a kind of freedom to openly criticize Bruce Rauner here at the halfway point in the Governor’s first term. But his list of grievances was pretty long.

There are billionaires out there, really right-wing conservative billionaires who want to buy elections and they will spend untold amounts of money. Oftentimes they can, perhaps prevail when they have a candidate who has no record. But when that candidate gets elected, whether it’s Trump or Rauner and then you see the lack of a record, you know what have they done other than harm things and mess things up, then I don’t think they’re going to do very well in getting re-elected.

“You had somebody running around just like Trump with a slogan, and they said they can fix things up, they can shake things up, but then look at the record of the last two years. What has happened? Not much, not much at all. As a matter of fact, where’s the budget? I did six budgets when I was Governor. This person has you know, put all kinds of conditions on a budget, so right now they have a stop-gap. That isn’t a budget. You need something that really brings people together that makes investments for the future. That’s how you grow jobs. That’s how you help people. You’ve got to invest in people, invest in the infrastructure. The two go hand in hand, that’s how you have a strong state. When I left our state was very close to paying its bills within a 30-day period just like businesses do, but you know you come along with a person with a different approach like they have in Kansas and they cause a lot of mess, and that’s what we have in Illinois, a lot of mess.

You’ve got to have enough revenue to equal your expenditures. If Rauner thinks that whatever he campaigned on is sufficient to pay the bills he’s just plain wrong. The record shows that he’s in deep deep deficit and continuing to go deeper. That’s not right, and I think we need to do something about that, and I think the Democrats should continue to stand their ground with respect to making sure that we allow working people to organize unions, to have collective bargaining, bargain for wages and working conditions and so on and benefits. And if Rauner wants to break that he’s not going to get away with it. We’re not going to go the way of some other states that have allowed working people to be really hurt by attacking their unions.

We talk at some length about public education, both K-12 and Higher Ed. Quinn’s particularly animated about the mistreatment of the Monetary Assistance Program grants. As Governor, he says, he had proposed doubling them – to 3/4 billion.

 I proposed that. I ran against somebody in a campaign in 2014 who said that we didn’t need to have the revenue to do that, and now he’s got a $15-billion deficit. Now I also in that same budget proposed investing in K to 12, kindergarten to 12th grade more than any other time in Illinois history using the revenue that we had from the income tax and other sources of revenue. Again, the other side said, you know they demonized that source of revenue, and so we haven’t been able to make the investments [only] in K to 12, but early childhood education. I wanted to invest a billion and a half new dollars in early childhood, 0 to 5, birth to 5, a very very important investment for any state to make if it’s really concerned about education.

And about that petition drive to make Chicago’s Mayor a two-term gig, effectively ending Rahm Emanuel’s tenure in just three years:


What this petition is about is term limits on the Mayor of Chicago. Every other big city in America has term limits on the Mayor except Chicago. New York has it, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Houston, San Jose, San Antonio, Phoenix. Chicago is the only city that doesn’t have a two-term limit on its Mayor. We want to give people a chance to vote on that right here in Chicago.

term limits on executives, especially mayors and presidents and governors is a good thing, especially now in this age of big money being spent on campaigns. It requires a changeover, a new look. A lot of the problems Chicago has today is they weren’t addressed by mayors who got re-elected, but oftentimes didn’t address serious problems. Term limits force you to shuffle the deck and have a new look. They are very popular with the voters.

Now, New York has this and that’s a big city, the same way with Los Angeles. They are both bigger than our city. It’s not like Chicago is doing a lot of good things. Too many mistakes have been made and I think voters ought to have a chance at the ballot box not to let Rahm Emanuel or any other mayor tell us what the rules are, but we, the people set the rules for the mayor.


And finally, Quinn’s effort to create, through referendum, an elected school board for Chicago:

The appointed school board by the Mayor over the last 20 years has made a mess of the school system here in Chicago. They even ended up with a superintendent who was convicted of a felony. You know, come on. An elected school board is fundamental to democracy. Around our state every other community has an elected school board. Only Chicago does not allow its citizens to have the voting rights to elect members of the Board of Education. In addition, that Board of Education is levying hundreds of millions of dollars in property taxes on those voters and they have no voting rights. That’s not right.

And a final thought from the former Governor:

And so that’s really where we’re at, and I sure hope we don’t let Trump do the same thing to America, (that Rauner did here) and that’s why you’ve got to organize. Early to bed, early to rise, work like hell and organize, that’s my philosophy.

Read a full transcript of this show HERE:cn-transcript-nov-17-2016


About Ken

Ken's the host of Chicago Newsroom. A former news director, reporter and radio program host, he's also a past Vice President of the Chicago Headline Club.
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