Four years ago, it was Barack Obama who led a hearing in the Southland on the (indicted) Governor's effort to close the Tinley Park Mental Health Center and Howe Developmental Center. When Barack came out of that meeting, he remarked (per memory): "We'll have to take it easy on the Governor now. We've whacked him enough today."
Yesterday, it was the people of the Southland who came out to take a few whacks at the Governor's proposal to close the southside and south suburbs' only public providers of intensive, in-patient care for individuals with severe mental illness and profound developmental disabilities. Boy, did they come.
Among the first people I met at this hearing of the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability were active Obama volunteers in our efforts in Indiana. I wouldn't venture a guess as to how many people showed up without knowing the capacity of the room, but the parking lot was full and the space fairly full. 2000?
One of the Governor's officials started the proceedings by saying that they needed to shut down these facilities because they wanted to replace them with new facilities. What a crock! Did the Chicago Bears stop playing when we replaced Soldier Field with the spaceship? Did the Sox stop playing when they replaced Comisky Park? Hell, no! They built the new facilities first before they moved out of the old ones.
But this isn't what the Governor is proposing to do. He will shut down Tinley Park/Howe, shave a thousand jobs off the government payroll and build new facilities when the budget is under control. Which, in Illinois, means never.
If you're wondering if this has anything to do with the (indicted) Governor's proclivity towards "pay to play," you might have a point. The thousand workers who will lose their jobs can't afford to contribute to the Governor's extravagant lifestyle. And I doubt you will see any builder in the Southland stepping forward to "pay up" to build the new facilities. With lines of credit frozen everywhere, what bank is going to want to help out here? Nope, these thousand jobs will be lost to Illinois' practice of corruption. The people, both workers and clients, will be sacrificed so that the Governor and his political cronies can continue in the lifestyle to which they've become accustomed.
We voted for real change at the federal level. Probably time to vote for change at the state and local level, as well. How many more jobs can we afford to lose here?