Friday, June 01, 2007

Twilight zone

Just when you thought things couldn’t get weirder, the Statehouse erupts with tension-riddled drama. Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s communication staff has a public relations emergency on its hands leading into the weekend after Democratic Sen. Mike Jacobs of East Moline didn’t hold back in describing his confrontation with the governor over a spoiled deal.

Jacobs’ fellow Democrats tried twice to pull him away from the microphones in the Senate press box Friday afternoon.

The apparent tension started to build more than 12 hours before, at 12:15 a.m. on the last night of regularly scheduled session. Jacobs pressed the “no” button for the biggest item on the governor’s wish list: expansion of state-sponsored health insurance for adults. It was agreed that in exchange for Jacobs’ “yes” vote on the health plan, he was promised $75 million for a college in his western Illinois district. Right after he pressed “no,” however, Jacobs said loud enough for reporters to hear, “Sometimes you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do.”

The governor’s office had this to say in an e-mailed statement: “Senator Jacobs wanted a commitment of a $75 million project in his district in exchange for his vote to provide healthcare for everyone. The governor refused.”

Jacobs said the governor went as far as calling Western Illinois University president Al Goldfarb and said he had Jacobs to thank for putting the college’s capital funding at risk. A spokesman for Western Illinois University confirmed that the governor’s office called Goldfarb asking him to encourage Jacobs to vote in favor of the health plan. University spokesman John Maguire said no threats were made to withhold funding, and the university has been working with Jacobs and the governor’s office for months to arrange $73 million in new funding for capital projects, as seen in Blagojevich’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2008.

Though unconfirmed by the administration, Jacobs also said that the governor threatened his political career and that he felt intimidated in the governor’s Statehouse office Friday morning. “We can disagree. We can have moments where we don’t even like each other. But there should never be a time when the governor of Illinois threatens someone in a political and personal manner. It’s beneath the quorum of this building.”

According to Jacobs, he rejected the health plan because of its $1.5 billion tax increase. “It’s a lot of money for an experiment, for tinkering,” he said. “Somebody suggested, ‘Senator, throw the bill over to the House and let the House take care of this.’ Well, OK. But I want to stay focused on what I found offensive, and that was not the message, but the tactics. It was beneath the governor of Illinois.”

We’ll never be in that room to know who’s telling the truth.

Other Democrats voted against the governor’s health plan on the last night of regular session, too. They included first-year Sen. Dan Kotowski of Park Ridge, Latino Caucus leader Sen. Tony Munoz of Chicago and Sen. Louis Viverito of Burbank.

7 comments:

Anonymous,  5:03 PM  

I was going to post on Cap Fax but Rich beat me to the punch by closing comments.

Bravo Senator Jacobs!! Now what he needs to do (and I hope he sees this) is work with the Repubs to get HB1 out of Emil's grasp and make it the law of Illinois. If he wants to f*** the Governor, that is the best way. Emil has tied this much needed legislation up for Blago becuase it would detstroy his campaign fundraising machine. Hopefully this tasteless display can have bring about some good by passing HB1 and bringing some much needed reform to the swamp that is Illinois!!

Porkie,  6:24 PM  

Governor Straitjacket or Governor Orange Jumpsuit

Anonymous,  10:37 PM  

RI County was partly responsible for getting this Gov in office in the first place, (and the rest of Illinois south of I-80 and west of I-39)and the rest of the state, other then Cook County, have gotten squat. This Gov is soon to be indicted, and he would have never funded WIU in the first place. Good for the Jacob's kid.

Anonymous,  8:17 PM  

You are right ! Just when you think things couldn't any more weird....it does. This gov't & this "guvernor" is out of control. I hope the GOP is taking 'notes' as we move to 08' & to 2010'. We'll be lucky to get to 2010 ! But beyond the normal bantering, this latest outburst is absurd to attack a duly elected member of the Ill. Senate that way. 1st does, Blago really think he's got that kind of "clout", especially downstate to run a candidate, his "candidate" against a guy like Jacobs in his own district ?? The running against him would have a "target" on him from the start so to speak. Maybe that's how they do it in the "ward" but not in Moline. Geezzz !! Blago...not a way to make friends or influence people. I'd think he'd need all the friends he can get.

Bill,  8:58 AM  

It is pretty amusing to read in the posts here that all assume that everything that Jacobs said about the governor is true. The governor has responded that Jacobs demanded $75 million for an unneeded boondoggle involving Western Illinois University. The governor rightly refused. Jacobs then tried to cover his legislative ineptitude by holding a press conference where he allegedly threatened the governor physically, saying he would "kick his tail end" if he ever came to East Moline. Jacobs will probably face opposition in his district and rightly so, given his record of non-accomplishment. After this stunt his career as a Senator is most likely over whether or not he gets re-elected. Jones will probably assign him to the hospice committee.
The bottom line is there will likely be no WIU campus in Moline. Nice going, Mikey! Way to come through for your district.

RJW,  3:46 PM  

Bill:

EVERYBODY believes Jacobs because the Governor has pretty much proven to everyone he is a lying piece of crap, including the Dems. Why else would they go through the UNPRECEDENTED step of having MOU's set up for their projects. Why? Because they know the Governor is a liar and doesn't keep his word.

Anonymous,  10:56 PM  

How embarrassing for higher education's quest for bipartisanship and lofty ideas, when the president has to do the bidding of the governor to get funding for university projects. Better to raise it from alums than to trust the government to do it for you. Time to grow a pair and just say no.

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