Play of the Week
Lawmakers gathered again in Springfield for special sessions Wednesday and Thursday to deal with mass-transit financing problems in the Chicago area. They left the capital city no closer to solving the problems than when they began. The House voted down a plan to provide funding for the transit systems by using gasoline tax proceeds from that region. The Senate didn't vote on anything. Both chambers adjourned without scheduling any further sessions, although Gov. Rod Blagojevich threatened to call them back into special session if the issue isn't resolved as Christmas grows near.
Blagojevich caught a Chicago Blackhawks game on Wednesday night and happily reported the following day at the Statehouse that his home team won the game.
Only, Blagojevich was at the hockey game while the House debated a plan to shift more than $400 million in state fuel taxes to Chicago-area mass-transit agencies. Those agencies have pledged to cut routes, hike fares and layoff workers if they don't get more state money by mid-January.
Blagojevich said he wholeheartedly supported the plan, and he predicted it would pass. But just before the vote, he slipped from the Statehouse, boarded a taxpayer-funded plane and flew to the hockey game. The mass-transit bailout plan fell 14 votes shy of passage. Just two of Blagojevich's five allies supported it. Even Republicans - who originally authored the concept - balked and voted either no or present.
Blagojevich said he made the right decision. He claimed the House vote was "rigged" and that he was happy to watch a game that wasn't. Furthermore, he showed up at the hockey game even though he knew a Chicago television station was preparing an expose purporting to show how little attention the governor pays to his job.
Quotes of Note
"Are those fair game now?" – a player with the state champion Metamora Township High School football team, which visited the State Capitol on Wednesday. Each player was treated to a packaged lunch, and this particular player was inquiring about a handful of leftover lunches sitting on a nearby table.
"Perhaps a stint in the penalty box would be appropriate." – state Rep. Bill Black, R-Danville, criticizing Blagojevich for going to a hockey game Wednesday night while lawmakers voted on a plan to help Chicago's financially ailing mass-transit system.
Number to Know
5-1. The score of the Chicago Blackhawks-Tampa Bay Lightning hockey game that the governor attended. Chicago won.
The rest of December; the rest of the year. Lawmakers still haven't adjourned their spring session of the General Assembly, which was scheduled to end May 31.