More on two Oak Park legislators’ town-hall-meeting tour in 2013 as told in my Illinois Blues: How the Ruling Party Talks to Voters.
Sen. Don Harmon appeared with Rep. Camille Lilly and three other legislators on July 30 in Franklin Park’s park district headquarters, seven miles northwest of his and Lilly’s offices in Oak Park and on the West Side — another stark example of redistricting by Illinois Democrats according to their electoral requirements.
Among the other three was Sen. John Mulroe, a Northwest Side Chicago Democrat, who, “new to politics,” had run for office in 2010 because the state was “on the brink of disaster.” As an inveterate crisis-denier, Harmon must have cringed at that.
The two others were Rep. Kathleen Willis, from far-distant Addison, in DuPage County eight miles away, and Rep Mike McAuliffe, a Republican based on the city’s far Northwest Side. He made the point early on that he works with the others and had little to say in the ensuing conversation.
Neither did Oak Park’s Lilly, who did manage several times to squeeze in reference to her experience as a sophomore legislator. Indeed, her more extended contributions were about what she had experienced since her appointment — her voyage of discovery, as it were — even as she offered observations that she alone among the legislators apparently considered germane.
During discussion of the state’s economic situation, for instance, she noted that Illinois’ population was growing, which it was — one half of one percent since 2010, according to the Census Bureau — sixth-lowest growth in the nation, which had grown 2.5 percent in that time. Her point was followed up by no other panelist.
In a discussion of whether the state is business-friendly, she came up with something not quite decipherable. “We signed legislation today,” to encourage “small business loans,” she said. We? Signed? On that day? There was nothing in the news about this, nothing on state web sites. An email requesting clarification two days later and another two weeks later, each copied to Harmon, got no response from either.
She was proud of her vote to end double-dipping in pension payouts, she said, adding (twice) that there’s constant “monitoring” of that. “It’s important,” she said, adding, “To me,” squelching the rumor that when she says something is important, she sometimes means to others, not herself.
All in all, she remained true to form as modestly talented, inadequately informed, and good at picking out odd facts or fanciful pronouncements for mention in the public forum.