In most of the U.S., the state fair is a place for family-fun, adoration of agriculture and consumption of various fried foods. Although that reigns true for most Illinois State Fair patrons, it is quite different for members of the Illinois Statehouse who will attend “Our Illinois” (the theme for this year’s fair) from August 8th – 18th in Springfield. For example:
MONDAY – August 12th
Instead of enjoying the Budweiser Clydesdales daily romp through the grounds and the Illinois Army National Guard 144th Army Band’s performance like most fair-goers, Illinois Statehouse members mulled the implications of Moody’s Investors Service’s late-Friday reduction of the credit ratings of the University of Illinois, Eastern Illinois University, Governors State University, Illinois State University, Northeastern Illinois University, Southern Illinois University and Western Illinois University because of the General Assembly’s inaction on pension reform.
TUESDAY – August 13th
Early in the day, instead of enjoying harness racing and the draft horse show, members of the Illinois Statehouse were abuzz over Governor Quinn’s appointment to the Chicago Transit Authority Board, Frank Zuccarelli, withdrawing even before going to his first meeting on the CTA board.
Later in the day, instead of checking out the truck and tractor pulls and the various beer gardens like most attendees, Illinois Statehouse members were thinking about how is Illinois Senator Kwame Raoul (D - Chicago) doing as the leader of a bi-partisan committee to resolve the Illinois pension reform crisis and what about the rumor that he is planning to run for governor. If his committee fails, he probably would not. But if he succeeds (which is rumored to be yes and soon), it would be akin to if Lou Pinella had actually led the Chicago Cubs to victory in the World Series.
WEDNESDAY – August 14th
On a typical Governor’s Day at the Illinois State Fair, the incumbent governor (in this case a Democrat) and his party gather to celebrate and show unity amongst themselves and their supporters. But, this year was different. The Speaker of the House, who is also the head of the Illinois Democratic Party, did not show up and Governor Quinn may have intentionally subdued the event because he got booed at it last year by labor representatives. So instead of like most of the fair attendees who were awaiting the Toby Keith concert later that evening, most members of the Illinois Statehouse spent the day wondering how the sentencing verdict of former U.S. Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. and his wife former Chicago Alderman Sandi Jackson would go.
THURSDAY – August 15th
This was Republican Day at the fair. As most attendees watched the high dive show and the cottage cheese contest, members of the Illinois Statehouse watched to see if a fist fight would break out between GOP gubernatorial candidates Bill Brady, Kirk Dillard, Bruce Rauner and Dan Rutherford. Oddly, the biggest taunts were who among them was closest to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel as if it would be a bad thing if the Governor of Illinois and Mayor of Chicago could actually have a civil relationship.
FRIDAY – August 16th
Instead of admiring the “butter cow” and checking out Elvis Himselvis and the ponytail/pigtail contests like most attendees, Illinois Statehouse members were trying to determine which will happen first – Raoul’s committee solves the pension liability “hot mess” or a judge overturns Governor Quinn decision to not pay the General Assembly until they pass workable pension reform legislation.
END of THE FAIR PREDICTION – August 17th & 18th
Instead of enjoying those last bites of butterfly pork chop sandwiches while watching the Ke$ha, Journey and Night Ranger concerts on Saturday and Sunday at the fair, the political junkies of the Illinois Statehouse will probably not even be in attendance. They will be at home pondering the race for governor - especially if the rumors are true that Raoul has his Lou Pinella moment on pension reform and jumps in the fray.