Clout-heavy UNO hired his firm, Sen. Harmon clams up; narrow-gauge politics satisfy . . .

At town hall meeting, Oak Park library, July 17, 2013 — from Illinois Blues: How the Ruling Party Talks to Voters — UNO, fracking, pensions:

The clout-heavy United Neighborhood Organization (UNO) was brought up, reference was made to a sizable public-money grant for a charter school in nearby Galewood in 2009. There had been much spending on a post-announcement celebration — all of it widely reported, especially in detailed Sun-Times accounts.

Harmon responded carefully: “I have no knowledge of money being wasted.”

Spoken like a lawyer, and more than that, a partner with UNO’s lawyer in the firm, Burke Burns & Pinelli, which had taken UNO on as a client as soon as the scandal took shape months earlier.

By March, 2016, the firm had worked long and hard on UNO troubles to the extent of more than $962,000 in fees, wrote Sun-Times’ Dan Mihalopoulos (“THE WATCHDOGS: UNO’s secret spending spree”).

Few knew of this cheek-by-jowl Harmon-UNO connection. Many did know of the news stories, however, about which Harmon apparently had not felt prompted to inquire. He pleaded ignorance, said no more. No one questioned him further on the point.

Other issues arose:

fracking downstate (approved later by the legislature and judicially good to go by December, 2014) , dispensing of psychiatric drugs, and others.

The pension comes first, said Lilly. Harmon backed her up with a graph thrown up on a screen showing the size of pension outlay, asking along the way if anyone had “missed a payment.”

He had asked earlier who worked in government jobs, twenty-five or so had raised their hands. None did so this time. It was a litigator’s question, asked knowing the answer.

Again, it was so far, so good for one side of the issue,

payouts to pensioners, without reference to the state’s fiscal health — and continued ability to meet payments, for that matter.

He was practicing narrow-gauge politics that was good enough for his supporters. He was a sort of good shepherd caring for his flock.

Illinois Blues is available in paperbackepub and Amazon Kindle formats.

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