O’Connor: Those ‘evil’ politicians are people too

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In a professorial-type breakdown of the political warfare taking place in Springfield, Ald. Patrick O’Connor (40th) on Tuesday pointed to a key factor that people need to remember about Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and his political foes, Rep. Mike Madigan and Sen. John Cullerton, the state legislature’s top two Democrats.

They’re human. They have feelings. And it’s not easy to forget election-season animosity.

Madigan and Cullerton are “two individuals who over the course of the last year-and-a-half have been vilified, called names, basically portrayed as evil, corrupt individuals, and now we expect them all to sit down at the table and get along and put it all behind them and solve our problems. It’s a daunting task,” O’Connor said while addressing the City Club of Chicago.

“And so for the people who think about, ‘Why can’t they just get on with it?’ — they’re all human. And they all came off of a campaign that essentially just tried to eviscerate each other and now you’ve got a group down there that basically doesn’t know the rules,” said O’Connor, referring to Republican efforts to curb unions and a recent Illinois Supreme Court ruling that tossed out a past effort at curtailing public-employee pensions.

The dysfunctional dynamic especially affects Chicago because the city’s finances are closely tied to Springfield, O’Connor said.

For instance, he said, the state holds the reins on Chicago’s efforts to build a casino that city officials hope will pay for a large chunk of police and fire pensions.

O’Connor summed up the relationship between the city and the state as: “We can’t see why they can’t see our point and they can’t see why we can’t see theirs.”

Add to the mix Chicago’s sinking bond rating, and O’Connor painted a bleak picture that he said did not match a vibrant city that has been become a magnet for new business.

City services will probably be affected, O’Connor said.

“I think that city government will notice it’s getting tougher. We hope that it’s not something that’s going to affect every constituent out there,” said O’Connor, who flatly refused to answer whether Chicagoans will see a property tax increase.

“Maybe some services will be cut or we’ll change how we deliver it to save money,” he said.

O’Connor quoted Winston Churchill before stepping away from the lectern: “Success is not final and failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.”

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