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Everyone is corrupt except the Governor

4/27/2015

By Aviva Bowen

Our state has challenges. That's not news.

We need to rebuild the middle class. We need to strengthen public structures– our schools, our unions, our social services – because the mission of government matters and must serve all people, not just the most fortunate.

We need real leadership.

Instead, we have a Governor who favors tearing things down and pitting neighbor against neighbor.

When he doesn’t get his way – or in the case of the imminent Supreme Court ruling on pensions, believes he’s not going to get his way – he waves people off as “corrupt.” It’s easy. It’s convenient. It’s schoolyard name-calling from the class bully, who preys upon our fundamental value of fairness in a manipulative, dangerous way.

This didn’t start on Inauguration Day.

Let’s turn the wayback machine to 2012, to his favorite foe. On unions
“It is time to save our state from the corrupt excesses of the government employee labor unions and their political cronies. Common-sense reforms that exist in most other states would do the trick, and the savings would allow us to roll back our recent tax hike and restore cuts in education and social services.”
Restore cuts in education and social services? Um, OK. How do you explain gutting autism funding on World Autism Day (!!), cutting afterschool programs, and proposing to slash higher education by 31% - all whilst handing out $100 million in corporate tax breaks?

This is about priorities.

On the Supreme Court
Gov. Bruce Rauner picked an unexpected fight with a powerful enemy Tuesday, accusing the Illinois Supreme Court of being part of a “corrupt system.”

In an attack that legal and political experts say appears to be designed to pile pressure on the court as it weighs the legality of a law that would cut retirement benefits for state workers, teachers and retirees, Rauner told the editorial board of the Daily Herald, “I don’t trust the Supreme Court to be rational in their decisions.”

Rauner, who donated more than $25 million to his own gubernatorial campaign … said he’d prefer a system under which justices were appointed on merit instead of being elected. “I think they’re activist judges who want to be legislators,” he said.
Appointed? By whom – Rauner?

When asked to clarify his remarks, and perhaps backtrack from an astoundingly dim claim about our highest court, he didn’t take the opportunity. He doubled-down.
Asked if he thinks the state's high court is part of a "corrupt" system, Rauner said: "Yes, correct. Yes. Yes. We have a system where we elect our judges, and the trial lawyers who argue cases in front of those judges give campaign cash to those judges. It's a corrupt system."
Sensing a theme?

On Illinois' employee retirement systems
Bruce Rauner says the state’s pension system is fundamentally corrupt and broken,’ [despite having] a front-row seat for the past three decades investing pension funds as a co-founder of GTCR LLC, Chicago’s second-largest private-equity firm. For a broken system, it did well for GTCR … GTCR takes a slice of returns it reaps from business sales, typically about 20 percent, and charges management fees.
On Senate President John Cullerton and Speaker Mike Madigan during the campaign, and again during a 2014 press conference -
“We have career politicians who are fundamentally corrupt and engaging in patronage cronyism and failing the people of our state, and we’ve got to dramatically change that culture,” he said during a press conference in Springfield in 2014.
So the candidate who put $25 million of his own money into his gubernatorial campaign – and bundled another $40 million from a few (literally, just a few) wealthy donors – has the chutzpah to suggest others have an outsized influence?

Then, last week, on the Chicago Public Schools
“[CPS] wasn’t run as an education system. It was run as a political patronage operation. We in Illinois blend our politics and our governments in a way that most states don’t. That’s where we get our corruption from and our conflicts of interest from.”
This, from the man who called in a favor with an elected official, clouted his daughter into an elite Chicago public school, and then gave the school $250,000.

This, from the man whose private equity firm won pension business from the State of Pennsylvania after he made a $300,000 contribution to the Governor’s campaign.

According to Governor Rauner, everyone is corrupt except for him, who is pure as the driven snow.

Listen, there is wrongdoing in government. In business. In non-profits. Heck, in many families. I’m not suggesting that we accept actual corruption.

But we need to work together to solve problems. Governor Rauner’s divisive and misleading approach would be bad enough without all the hypocrisy.

He should be reaching across the aisle and building trust. He should be putting forth proposals that address our real challenges, not touring the state touting false villains.

But what do we have instead? This.
“We always expected the government union bosses to fight to keep their stranglehold over Illinois taxpayers in place. These forced union dues are a critical cog in the corrupt bargain that is crushing taxpayers, and the government unions will do anything to keep the broken status quo.”
Good grief, this is tiresome. It’s time to move on.



Aviva Bowen is the Director of Communications for the Illinois Federation of Teachers.



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