Around 200 9th IL State Senate district constituents got to meet Democrat candidate Dan Biss last night (8/16/12) in Skokie to hear all about the Illinois pension crisis. ConservativeBrand’s heart goes out to anyone who, like Biss, manages to stand for an hour with a sensible look on his face, listening to a panel of three EduCrats offer mind-numbing information about actuarial methods and lobbying strategies. Most of the audience consisted of teachers and school board supporters, but even the small contingent of Tea Partiers and Republicans for opponent Glenn Farkas exhibited equivalent glazed-eye syndrome.
Question time was little better, with lots of sad personal stories from teachers and helpful ideas for increasing union compensation. The undoubted high point of the discussion was Wilmette resident Mark Weyermuller’s question – during which he shocked the audience by mentioning the name of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (who has fought and won the battle to start along a path to save the state budget.) Former Marine and Tea Party supporter Brian O’Dwyer also stood up for more taxpayer friendly solutions. Dan Biss, who joins his fellow state legislators in a special session on the pension crisis today, offered his special brand of smooth-talking, mostly disengenuous and practiced responses – the kind of answers that make him look Harvard-smart and North Shore bi-partisan just like his predecessor Jeff Schoenberg. His voting record as a state rep tells a different story: Biss is known as a special friend to IL House Dictator Madigan, and he is rumored to be the hand-picked successor to U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (whose husband is a convicted felon) when she moves on.
ConservativeBrand asked Biss why the state legislature in its special session is considering a pension proposal that excludes 75 percent of the problem (the teachers and university pension systems) when there is a good model out there. The state of Rhode Island, also close to bankruptcy, passed a bi-partisan measure earlier in the year to raise the retirement age for future pensioners, suspend Cost of Living adjustments, and replace the defined benefit structure with 401(k)s. That’s a non-starter in Illinois according to Biss; the Republicans in Springfield are too entrenched, and the Democrats are entrenched as well.
Sample quotes from Dan Biss characterize his message: “I agree with the Rhode Island solution,” “I am not a friend to Mike Madigan. I don’t know what he looks like,”and “I am for a progressive income tax in Illinois.” And if he wins this Democrat stepping-stone job in November, Biss will get passes to vote “no” from Madigan when it works for both of them – and nothing will get solved in insolvent Illinois. Better get to know Republican 9th district nominee Glenn Farkas (www.farkas4illinois.com).
One Tea Party reaction to the Biss event; H/T to Mark Weyermuller.