Wednesday, July 14, 2004

John Kass' nice phrase, Rich Miller's nice word

John Kass can really turn a phrase. He leads his column today with this gem:

Those panic-stricken Illinois Republican Party bosses are fascinated by Mike Ditka as a candidate for the U.S. Senate the way drowning men are fascinated by things that float.

I'd just amend that a bit. The 'bosses' sure do not seem to be in charge anymore. Dave Syverson and Judy Baar Topinka aren't 'bosses.'

Rich Miller has coined a new term: the pentarchy. That refers to the five men who sit behind closed doors and legislate for the State. Speaker Michael Madigan, Senate President Emil Jones, House Minority Leader Tom Cross, Senate Minority Leader Frank Watson and Governor Blagojevich sit around a table, where no press or public may watch or listen, and debate proposals around the state's $54 billion budget. When they finally agree, the other 173 legislators are expected to endorse the agreement.

It's a horrible way to legislate and I wish that enough legislators would follow the lead of those like Sara Feigenholtz who (with about a dozen other mostly women legislators, according to Rich Miller's Capitol Fax) publicly called for access. Imagine if more of the backbenchers refused to vote for any negotiated budget agreement until it went through a proper committee hearing in both chambers with agency-specific budget bills (no massive take-it-or-leave-it bills with 8 agencies stuffed together).

The pentarchy has got to stop supplanting the General Assembly.

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