Mondays with Mike: Act locally           

June 20, 2016 • Posted in Mike Knezovich, Mondays with Mike, Uncategorized by

With all the passion and angst and fear and — in some quarters joy — attending the presidential election this year, it’s easy to forget Tip O’Neill’s favorite maxim: All politics is local.

Of course presidential elections matter (see Supreme Court), but in my view, real change bubbles up, it doesn’t trickle down. Attention must be paid to state and local politics.

Here in Illinois political dysfunction has produced a nearly dystopian situation. We haven’t had a budget, not to mention a serious plan for addressing long-term pension problems, for going on two years now. Like many other states, Illinois has financial problems. Unlike most other states, Illinois has not been paying its bills, which has put a real hurt on a lot of people. As usual, the pain started with human services. But it’s spreading And today this: Mt. Sterling, a small downstate town that supplies water to a medium-security prison—is threatening to shut off the supply because the state owes it $370,000.

Meanwhile, a showdown between Republican Governor Bruce Rauner and Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan continues the budget paralysis. What’s worse is that between them, sorry, I can’t find one to root for, and I blame them both.

It can make you throw up your hands and give up.

But don’t do it.

Here’s something else those of us in Illinois can do. I was reminded (thanks Regan!) of a long-running campaign aimed at cleaning up the redistricting process. Redistricting happens every ten years, based on census numbers. Unfortunately, it’s also based on the needs and wants of political operators who want to protect their turf or gain more. Here’s a nifty slide show explanation in case you’ve forgotten civics class:

Click on image to go to a handy explanation of redistricting, and how it can go awry.

Click on image to go to a handy explanation of redistricting, and how it can go awry.

Redistricting is an utterly boring subject in a way and also supremely important. This gerrymandering has been show to be at least part of the polarization across the United States, as well as the paralysis of the kind we’re experiencing now in Illinois. A nonpartisan and committed group called Independent Maps has been collecting signatures for a petition to put a constitutional amendment on this fall’s ballot. The amendment would clean up the redistricting process.

The Board of Elections just validated the signatures—a major hurdle. It’s now headed to court where, ahem, Michael Madigan’s favorite lawyer is fighting against it.

A similar effort was ruled unconstitutional a few years back, but this effort was crafted to avoid that fate. You can learn more at the Independent Maps site, where you can also donate or help with you time by writing letters and advocating.

It’s concrete. It would make real difference now and moving forward. I hope you’ll support the effort.

And vote this fall!

Mike Bowers On June 20, 2016 at 5:59 pm

Nice read, Mr. K. I think people in general underestimate the good or bad that is and can be done in the nitty gritty of politics…….and redistricting is a good example. And, while your and my politics don’t often agree, I think we both are on board for getting the politicians out of the redistricting process.

Marlene On June 20, 2016 at 6:37 pm

Thanks Mike. This was an especially important post. You just need to continue reminding everyone to vote this fall.

Mel Theobald On June 20, 2016 at 8:01 pm

Carrying your original argument down to our aldemanic boundaries, we are getting dissected on local, state and federal levels. As for voting, which I have always and optimistically believed matters, there is something criminal in all this behavior that extends to Rahm, Madigan and the federal government. I’m dumbfounded that all this gerrymandering of our districts, our finances and our silenced voices isn’t illegal. Then there is your other point, the conflict of interest of someone like Madigan – whose law firm profits from his legislative power – who holds an absolute grip on his own district which will never vote him out of office and the state office holders who lick his boots to gain access to the money he controls. Being “mad as hell” and saying “I’m not going to take it anymore” is not enough to transcend political corruption. The only hope we have is to follow the prescription you advise. VOTE TO END THIS INSANE SYSTEM OF POLITICAL ABUSE!!!

Monna Ray On June 21, 2016 at 9:14 am


You’re the voice of sanity. Thanks for suggesting something we can do. Shutting off the water might be enough to get some action.


Benita Black On June 21, 2016 at 1:01 pm

Your sanity regarding this issue is hearteningly optimistic. It’s so easy to throw up one’s hands and slam the metaphoric door. Exercising our franchise is the only way we’ve got to change things.

Brigitte On June 21, 2016 at 1:09 pm

Mike, I totally agree that the way congressional districts are drawn should be unconstitutional. In 2010, Republicans organized to take advantage of this, resulting in their capture of the House of Representatives, with less than a majority of votes. Although Democrats also benefit from redistricting, they haven’t done it on a scale as vast and organized as the Republicans in 2010. Voting for sane redistricting rules in one State is like unilateral disarmament. So I am torn about it. I also believe in proportional representation for the Electoral College. But if democratic leaning states alone were to adopt this, it would be ceding the presidency to the Republicans.

The real solution is at the federal level, and that’s unlikely to happen. So, as a selfish Democrat, I am on the fence about a state-wide rule. Its a choice between insanity and increased Republican power. Right now, it’s hard to choose, but insanity may not look so bad…

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