Illinois Blues: Pensioner’s “desperate look,” bond ratings, unemployment

At the Oak Park Library town hall, July 17, 2013 — from Illinois Blues: How the Ruling Party Talks to Voters, Chapter 3, “There Will Be No Cuts”:

A man asked why it had taken so long to do something about the pension issue when the Civic Federation of Chicago had raised the issue five years earlier.

Sen. Harmon played the therapist. He shared the questioner’s “frustration,” having seen the “desperate look” on the faces of people who fear losing pensions.

Nothing about why it had taken so long. Treating the do-nothing years as an act of God, himself as horrified observer. Not horrified, however, since even as he spoke, there was no crisis, he had said.

Another man complained that in response to Illinois’ lowest-in-nation bond rating and one of the nation’s highest unemployment rates, said citizens got nothing but “rhetoric.”

It was the first question about fiscal issues as such. The man stayed with his complaint, enlarging on it. Harmon listened up to a point, then called “next,” choosing not to engage him.

Rep. Lilly gloriously missed this and picked up with the persistent questioner, entering on extended commentary of her own, pacing back and forth, gesticulating, in general speaking as if to settle the question in an earnest, forceful, however cheery a manner.

The man threw in the towel, giving way to the next question, about a much-protested pawn shop on economically limping North Avenue and related matters.

Illinois Blues is available in paperbackepub and Amazon Kindle formats.

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