The Rockford Files

Man Up

Mike Madigan (so the rumor goes) will never leave the Illinois House of Representatives, or even risk vacating the speaker’s chair, because doing so would almost certainly set him on the path trodden by four of the last eight governors of Illinois.  As long as Speaker Madigan stays in a position where he can leverage his knowledge of where the bodies are (perhaps literally) buried, he might live out his days a free man.  A fiercely partisan Democrat who has done even more than the most crooked and incompetent (the two conditions aren’t mutually exclusive) Republican governors to set the Land of Lincoln on the road to ruin, Madigan is universally despised by every Republican leader in the city of Rockford.

The only person Rockford Republicans hate more, apparently, is every Democrat in Rockford.  Which is why, decades ago, they took the key to the city and mailed it down to Springfield, where the “Velvet Hammer” (as Chicago Magazine once dubbed Madigan) today wears it around his neck.

If free men, by definition, govern themselves, what should we call those who are so afraid of the spendthrift ways of their fellow Rockfordians that they voluntarily gave up home rule in order to limit the ability of Rockford’s mayor and city council freely to make decisions about the city’s finances?  Even today, when Rockford has one of the highest sales taxes of any municipality...

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