The Galewood meeting — Sen. Don Harmon and Rep. Camille Lilly, in one of a pre-election-year series — was held on September 12, 2013, when 60 or so residents gathered in the small Galewood Community Church, a few blocks north of North Avenue, the Oak Park-Chicago boundary.
In a meeting of just over an hour, assorted cries from the heart filled the air while the two legislators responded — civilly at first, but as the evening wore on, less so, even testily, with Lilly fairly shouting at one point, talking over questioners.
Harmon took his customary optimistic stance. The state is “turning the corner,” he said. There had been “no borrowing for the last three years.” The pension problem was not as dire as some in the media were saying. The issue was not pensions anyhow, but pension benefits.
A retired teacher asked why her benefits were on the line.
They aren’t, Harmon said: “It’s that they don’t grow at the same rate.”
Her benefits would be reduced, she responded, and by a specific dollar amount which she supplied on the spot.
This was double talk from Harmon: Neither pension nor benefits were the issue, but her benefits would not grow as fast? Talk nonsense, and gullible people nod their heads. But he had non-gullible people before him.
It was a signal of trouble ahead.
More to come, from Illinois Blues: How the Ruling Party Talks to Voters— available in paperback, epub and Amazon Kindle formats.