Thursday, April 28, 2005

Back from an unwired, unphoned trip to the Capitol

The Treo 300 broke. So there was no blogging in the Capitol this week. And there were some fun things going on.

I can't find a link to yesterday's front page Tribune photo of Auditor General William Holland in his first press conference since the George the First Administration, but man did he look *angry*. He was just snarling out of that picture. I ran into him and his team as they were going into their press conference. The dude looked tense.

This will make it more difficult for the Blagojevich re-election campaign to run with a reform message, but far from impossible. As Rich Miller pointed out in today's CapFax (yes, I do read it on session days), the governor's team had some fantastic spin, trying to minimize the audit as a mere accounting spat. And my hunch is that, unless there's something criminal, it sounds like 'he said, she said' stuff. Even if it comes from the universally-respected-in-Springfield (and unknown elsewhere in the state) William Hollard. And, I think, even if it comes from another Democrat elected like Jack Franks. Remember, Paul Vallas had the most damning line possible in the primary: "Rod Blagojevich is what's wrong with Illinois politics" and that didn't really stick in the general against Jim Ryan.

But from what I understand, the Administration really just threw their sharp elbows around like madmen about this CMS audit. Apparently, the Auditor General raised some questions about these CMS contracts. You know, his job. And when the questions about the audit were tough, the response from CMS and the Governor's office was basically: "your audit is worse!" That's right, they challenged the auditing practices of the Auditor General. And that's probably why Holland was so mad and went public.

But you can see the Trib jumping on it already. Today's editorial (here) is a pretty fast turnaround. They made up another nickname for Blagojevich (Governor Pay to Play), crediting "state insiders" with coining it, and avoiding responsibility for just making it up themselves. (It's like when they just made up a nickname for Representative Mike Boland as "Squish" in an endorsement last year and presented it as a fact). So to the extent the Tribune editorial page can set the tone for swing voters (very dubious) or print coverage of the '06 campaign (slightly more possible), headlines like yesterday's will matter.

Also, I went to the Lincoln Museum. Definitely worth seven bucks. This will be a huge attraction. And I learned quite a bit (though nothing is cheesier than a guy putting on a lip-synched show and pretending to speak through a microphone in the Ghosts of the Library exhibit).

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