June 3, 2005

Our Sen. Jacobs speaks out

Try to believe it. It seems our newest Senator Mike Jacobs was "caught" speaking his mind after the recent budget passing frenzy in Springfield. Jacobs obviously didn't like what he saw during the process.

"The Senate is going to stand up in the future," Jacobs told me after he reluctantly voted for a state budget about which he had inadequate advance information and questioned the amount of money going to Chicago. "I'm going to encourage my colleagues, who sometimes look like sheep to me, I'm going to encourage them to stand up on their own two feet."

This is not the kind of on-the-record language you usually get from legislators, who tend to carefully negotiate the minefields of power as they put their time in at the Statehouse and seek to advance their legislation and themselves. But then again, Jacobs comes from candid stock. He took over the 36th Senate District seat when his father, former Sen. DENNY JACOBS, retired in February. His grandfather was also a legislator.

It was clear that the younger Jacobs, who is 44, was conflicted in joining other Democrats in passing the $54 billion-plus state budget Tuesday night.

"You know, this state is highly mismanaged," Jacobs said on the Senate floor, as he told of his frustration over the shuttered new state prison at Thomson, in his district.

"There's a $128 million prison sitting in my district that's empty, and I can't get anyone in this building to address it. I'm going to vote for this budget amendment ... but this is the last time I'm going to go through this process" without needed changes.

The state hasn't opened the new prison for lack of operating money.

After the vote, Jacobs mirrored what Republicans were saying about the budget giving help to Chicago.

"The fact is that $220 million in projects went to the city," he said. "As a downstater, I'm helping bail out the CTA (Chicago Transit Authority). You know, where's mine?" He also said Republicans are "dead right" that "we did mortgage our future," with the budget, which avoided what had been a scheduled payment of $1.2 billion into the state's pension funds. The governor says changes in future pension benefits will allow for the skipped payment this year.

Jacobs said some analyses of bills came his way the same day a vote was called.

"I'm not a reform guy, but we need to have (a) more rational and clear way," he said. "And if it's always been done this way, it's no wonder we're having the economic problems that we are."

The Springfield Journal-Register's Bernie Schoenburg was privy to Jacob's statements and created an entire column out of it.

I must say that I do appreciate such blunt and straight talk, so I have little problem with this. It shows that Jacobs does have at least a few strong principals and beliefs and possesses a line which when crossed, really pisses him off. I'm pleased to hear this. Legislators shouldn't be expected to vote on laws which they've had no chance to review. They should actually know what they are voting for. Horse trading and compromise is an intregal part of the law making process, but Jacobs is right in calling foul when it crosses the line into thuggish threats. (Though his charges are disputed.) Such tactics are routine in the Delay House. More pols should stand up against such thuggery there as well.

Jacobs is right to be chapped about the ridiculous Thompson prison boondogle. And he has a right to be pissed when it appears that the "upstate" Chicago area is monopolizing a huge portion of the budget. (as usual)

He also voiced his frustration with the disproportional influence of the Madigans, both House Speaker Mike and his daughter, Attorney General Lisa. Being told that he had to do this and that and the other thing because it's what Madigan wants, while not getting any rewards for his district in return sticks in Jacobs' craw.

However, this highlights a dilemma. The Republicans, certainly at the national level, and the state level as well, accomplish much by being a compliant group led by ruthless and effective leaders. They are absolutely spineless when it comes to standing against their party. It is a sin of the highest magnitude and the penalty for doing so is swift and severe. The result is that Republican legislators simply wait for their marching orders and immediately and without question do as they're told. There are no defections, and they vote as if they are a single organism. (a spirochet, say.)

While Jacobs' stands are justifiable and understandable, it does represent the typical Democratic independence and the difficulty of creating Nazi-like party discipline within the Democratic party.

I whole-heartedly believe legislators should fight for good and honest government, but against the mindless lock-step of the Republicans, the fact remains that party discipline is at a premium. I imagine this is why Jacobs held his nose and voted for the budget despite his misgivings.

It's revealing that Jacobs felt it important to let it be known that he's "not a reform guy," which I guess is a bad thing in Springfield.

I'd imagine some of you might have some opinions on all this?

> MORE <


At 6/03/2005 10:08 AM, Blogger diehard said...

Let Mr.Jacobs first remove the plank from his own eye!
Talk about getting things your own way. He seems a bit hypocritical a senate seat handed to him by John Ganulis and 200,000 in the kitty to run for office. Chicago also generates a huge amount of revenue.
Whats he so pissed about his riverboat who gives a shit!
Whats he want us to do incarcrate more black people so we can open up another prison? Will this make him credible?

At 6/03/2005 12:16 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Word has it that there are still a few black males that are not yet incarcerated. Locking up people and wrecking their lives is big business these days, and prisons need customers too. Luckily, the courts and police are all too willing to cooperate.

At 6/03/2005 12:38 PM, Blogger corn husker said...

read the artical and thought it was pretty good. think its good the kid has got some spark to him. artical shows he can think on his own. think he did good for his first session. jake jacobs would have been proud.
the last judge I talked to told me that there's no room in the jails. they just keep fining people for stuff they used to lock them up for. terrible to see that prison built and sitting empty. you shouldnt' racial profile die hard. it's not the 60's anymore.

At 6/03/2005 1:37 PM, Blogger diehard said...

Thanks Cornhusker I'll revise my calender accordingly!

At 6/03/2005 2:13 PM, Blogger corn husker said...

die hard your a peach. I don't care what dope says.

At 6/03/2005 4:16 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Mentioning the overwhelmingly high number of black people that fill our prisons has nothing to do with the calendar Husker, though you can be forgiven if when you read the statistics you think it's back in the 19th century.

Diehard wasn't "profiling", but stating a fact that has more to do with the disparate way justice is administered to black males than anything else.

I don't doubt that judges are letting people go with fines where they otherwise might have sentenced people to jail, but the fact remains that it's POOR people that overwhelmingly make up prison populations, and the more wealthy or connected are able to skate with no time at all.

The jails are full of non-violent drug offenders, petty criminals with no money for bond or competent representation, people who can't afford court ordered fines, child support, or other expenses, and the mentally ill.

With the gulf between rich and poor at record levels and widening fast, I'm sure the more fortunate amongst us will continue to pay ever larger amounts of money to make sure "those people" are kept behind bars.

At 6/03/2005 4:17 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

But that is off topic... ooops.

Back to the subject at hand...

At 6/03/2005 7:01 PM, Blogger maybesomeday said...

I know we are off topic but Diehard makes a good point here about prisions and our law enforcement.

Lately, there have been two persons in high profile hijinks and or illegal activities arrested numerous times in the QCA. One white and one black. The black guy ran from the law for some reason and had dozens of officers tailing him over a bi-state region, dragging him off quickly with no lag time. The white guy was a "trusty" and allowed to roam freely near his jail cell and outside the building --which he did ---and somehow managed to wander off and make it all the way to Iowa City Iowa without anyone noticing he was wearing an ORANGE jumpsuit!!

OF course I don't have all the facts - but perhaps there is something to the racial profiling people keep talking about......

At 6/03/2005 8:49 PM, Blogger diehard said...

I would imagine the strategy of the state is to get money from the law abiding citizens as much as possible.
Most people in prisons are poor. People that cannot afford a proper defense counsel. .
But we have also made ridiculuos laws to extract money from the golden goose when ever we want it to take a crap for us.
The seat belt law for instance. If 6 state troopers are sitting in a median on route 74 handing out tickets for not wearing a seatbelt then maybe we have to many state troopers! Those guys dont work for free either!
If its so ffn important to wear a seatbelt then why dont you need a helmunt on a motorcycle?
Not that I care if you want to spill your brains on the pavement, be my guest I COULD GIVE A SHIT!
But dont turn around and write a ticket for a seatbelt violation.

At 6/04/2005 2:38 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

States and cities realized back during the Reagan era that the they were being cut off from federal funds and had better dream up some revenue streams or go belly up.
Unfortunately for all of us, one of the easiest ways was to simply order the cops to jump their ticket writing by huge margins. The DUI and traffic violation area is utterly and completely an industry unto itself, generating incredible amounts of money for government coffers.
You think they're all that concerned over public safety? HA!
It's the money baby, pure and simple.
Slap someone in jail or haul them to court and wonder of wonders, the money just appears out of nowhere.
You should read a fine statement these days. There's at least a dozen or more "surcharges" that they just invent out of thin air. Need more money? Just tack on another $40 to everyone's ticket. Sure, they'll grouse, but when you have them over a barrel... what the heck?
It's a racket and a scam.

At 6/04/2005 4:42 PM, Blogger diehard said...

It seems this blog has divereged from the subject of what a stand-up guy that Mike Jacobs is with the Speaker of the House. Apparently when it comes to Jacobs no one cares!
How about Verschoore growing some balls and standing up to the Speaker? Oh I forgot the Speaker bought him his house seat.

At 6/04/2005 4:46 PM, Blogger DownLeft said...

What do you think they'll do to him for not falling in line? Making comments like this is a bad idea unless you have a plan and the ability to create a power base outside of Madigan. Does Jacobs have the smarts and experience to do that? I'd be surprised.

At 6/04/2005 6:58 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Downleft, that is an aspect of the story which I neglected to mention. One reason I find Jacobs outspokenness on this to be refreshing is that he has the "testicular virility" to risk whatever pay-back it might draw.

One hopes that he will not suffer retaliation in return, but it's a distinct possibility.

Sadly, being your own man is a ballsy and dangerous thing to be in politics. It can be done, but you better feel pretty bullet-proof before you do it.

Jacobs bout of candidness may have had more to do with premptively trying to shift blame for not getting anything for the district out of the budget.

If called on the carpet, he can always confess that he had to do it since he came up largely empty-handed. The leaders might understand.

But one benefit is that if Jacobs can establish a rep for being blunt and outspoken like his father, then he can create a sort of immunity for himself in the future.

When Denny told it like it was, he appeared to be able to get away with it because the reaction was largely, "Oh, that's Denny for you." People both expected and appreciated it. And enough of them appreciated it that he rarely suffered consequences.

And it also has a mental health benefit.

I suppose some could do it, but I couldn't live and speak like some sort of PR scripted automaton, constantly worried about how to sidestep the truth, choking on my own feelings and having to bite my tongue at all times, 24/7.

It's unnatural and would make most people lose their minds.

It is a true luxury to be able to speak the truth as you see it and say to hell with it. Obviously, you can't please everyone all the time, though most pols actually try to do it, and the result is a level of phoniness that most people find nauseating and insulting.

But a rep for "plain speaking" holds it's own appeal with people, and it also relieves the politician from burden of having to suffer the unnatural discipline of trying to never offend anyone, ever.

If Mike can put on the same "cloak of invincibility" that his father both earned and enjoyed, then it will all be for the best.

At 6/04/2005 10:24 PM, Blogger theheadusher said...




At 6/04/2005 11:14 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Yep, your campaign contribution checks are in the mail from whatever business entities will benefit from this legislation.

And if there's this much rejoicing over being able to pass a techical bill amending some language in a previous bill, (to salvage what should have been a done deal anyway) what are they going to do when they actually accomplish anything substantial? Declare a state-wide holiday?

At 6/05/2005 1:28 PM, Blogger illinoisone said...

When is headusher going to finally admit that he is Senator Mike Jacobs?

At 6/06/2005 11:04 AM, Blogger theheadusher said...

Beam me up bix, the crazies are taking over the blog...

Statewide holidays for signing a bill?

Headusher is none other than "Big Mike Jacobs" himself?

If headusher is Senator Mike Jacobs, headusher would have to be a man. Rest assured boys, I am 100% female.

Not even the "great Dope" or his politically challenged sidekick reeder, has ever accussed "Big Mike Jacobs" of being a woman!

Congrats Senator Jacobs and Rep. Verschoore on getting the Governor of Illinois to come and sign your bill that saved the largest one time economic development project in Northwestern Illinois history!

Way to go boys!

Ta-ta-for-now silly bears

At 6/06/2005 2:36 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Ay yi yi! With comments like that, you're either drinking way too much or way too little.


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