« If you're headed for Decatur, find the alley | Main | New ways in Davenport »

May 24, 2006

Blago's pretty school picture

Wow! Nothing small about the education proposals Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich tossed on the table Tuesday afternoon. (Blagojevich press release)

Good ideas abound. Enacted into law, they'd be a boon to the schools, though strengthening teacher accountibility ought to be on the table, too, since we're talking about pumping a new $10 billion into education.

The money? No problem -- we'll just sell and/or lease the state lottery.

Uh oh. To paraphrase Johnny Cash here, the skepticism is knee-deep high and rising. Rapidly.

The numbers are instant mush. No way of knowing at this point even approximately how much an IPO of lottery stock would bring in; same's true of a lease arrangement. Way too many unknowns, chief among them who'd actually control such things as expanding gambling.

If I'm an investor, I'd be reluctant to put up much if the legislature had it's hand in the pot (lot of people took it in the shorts in Iowa this year when lawmakers decided new lotto machines were really slots and had to be yanked out of thousands of locations.)

If I'm a lawmaker, I'd be reluctant to hand over control of gambling to anybody.

Beyond that, there's the question of whether it's very bright to sell off what Blago called a "valuable asset." Looks like another case of instant gratification. Big wad of cash now, and let somebody else worry about tomorrow.

I'm made doubly skeptical by the governor's attempt to run the old "do it for the schools" scam by the public for a second time. First time was when the lottery was created back in '72 or thereabouts. Helping the schools was the chief selling point used by lottery backers, but then the proceeds went into the general fund. People kept complaining about that, so in 1986 lawmakers decreed that the lottery money would go directly into the Common School Fund, and it has ever since (though Blagojevich skirted that fact Tuesday).

'course, the lottery money amounts to far less than is spent from the Common School Fund, so the schools remain at the mercy of the lawmakers each year at budget time. If the state gets the wad of cash Blago is fishing for, it'll go quickly and we'll be right back where we are today -- scrounging around for cash every year, only needing more to support all the new things created.

Skepticism's already waist-deep high and rising, despite the pretty school picture the governor is waving about.

Posted by jcb at May 24, 2006 12:30 AM


I wish I had magic wand to make you governor for a year to see what you would do. Fools knock down a barns, but it takes a team of skilled professional to build one!

Anyone can yap, yap, yap. Do you do anything other than criticize those that do?

Didn't think so.

Posted by: KateNelson at May 24, 2006 10:18 AM

The only thing more embarrassing than our governor is the fact that David Hasselhoff was shown in the audience of 'American Idol' crying as the winner was announced.

Posted by: Jim Mowen at May 25, 2006 07:50 AM

For anything positive to happen in IL public schools, the teacher unions will have to be convinced to accept teacher accountability. Scott Reeder's fine series about teacher tenure shows the difficulty in achieving that goal.The idea that a teacher's union wouldn't put teacher concerns above student concerns is just not realistic----that's not what unions do. I just don't see that happening in IL where all three branches of government are in control of the Democrat Party. It ain't gonna happen.

And the lottery thing is particularly galling. Denny Jacobs sold us on the idea that riverboat gambling would be the savior of the public schools. How stupid were we to believe a politician who was in the pocket of gambling interests? Yet the Jacobs family are considered gods in the Democrat Party.

It really frosts my cookies!

Posted by: paladin at May 25, 2006 12:47 PM

Paladin - go take your medication. You'll feel better.

I wonder how the State of Illinois, in the financial mess it's in, would have paid for our schools without the revenue from the boats? Pulled it our of a hat perhaps? The money had to come from somewhere and the gaming and lottery money has paid the bills for public education for a long time.

Being a politician is a thankless job but I for one than Denny Jacobs for doing SOMETHING for this area - whether you believe it to be right or wrong. He always had the best interest of his consituents.

So quit being so jealous of a political dynasty. Start one up yourself if you don't like it.

Posted by: Marky Mark at May 25, 2006 04:37 PM

Ooops, I forgot! Everyone repeat after me, in unison: THANK HEAVENS FOR DENNY JACOBS.

All better now, Marky?

Posted by: paladin at May 25, 2006 07:04 PM

Correction, Paladin. Former Sen. Denny Jacobs, when pushing riverboat gaming, didn't sell it as solution to education funding and the disparities we face. He said it would help, and it has, but don't overstate what he said and what he didn't say. Go back to the legislative debate and you'll get a clearer picture. Thanks.

Posted by: moline dem at May 25, 2006 09:31 PM


You shouldn't make up stories so easy to check and refute.

Denny Jacobs' never passed riverboat gaming as anything other than a way to help depressed river communities. For you to suggest otherwise is false!

Over the last 11 years, Jacobs' riverboat bill generated $17.3 billion to the Illinois General Fund. As a result, education has seen huge gains. Those of us who know Denny know he never promised anything.

As for Denny being in the pocket of the riverbaots, it looked more like they were in his pocket.

I for one think the Jacobs' Families' 100 year record of elected public service is incredible. Time after time the public has elected them. Why? Because they deliver for ordinary people!

The only time I found myself agreeing with Scott Reeder is when he said, "Mike Jacobs' performance in the Illinois Senate has been remarkable."

Working for an anti-union shop, I am sure hReeder is nothing more than a controlled factor!

Posted by: ThomOverstreet at May 25, 2006 10:20 PM

Scott Reeder did an excellent series on teacher tenure. As a Democrat, I wish more in our party would take that message more seriously and have more backbone in steering a moderate path on education policy. Perhaps they will. Scott's a good reporter in the Statehouse.

Posted by: anonymous at May 25, 2006 11:37 PM

ThomOverstreet -

If Riverboat gambling was passed to help depressed river communities, why has our depressed river community remained depressed? Why has $17.3 Billion gone to the IL General Fund and not more remained in our sepressed river community - and why does the non-depressed, non-river community of Chicagoland have riverboat gambling.

Government...our great protector!

Posted by: havinfun at May 26, 2006 06:21 AM

Not helped our community? Are you okay?

Casino Rock island is one of our largest employeers and has funneled millions of dollars directly to the citizens of Rock Island.

Casion Rock Island is in the process of building a $140 million project. That means at least two years of construction. Given this is a labor management agreement, it will be built by union workers.

For the record, Chicago does not have a single casino boat. Are you saying Casino Rock Island is in Chicagoland? Duhhhh.

Now that casino gaming has proven to work, create jobs and provide government with needed revenue (without raising salses of income taxes), everyone wants to get in on the act. Hopefully, Illinois will allow Chicagoland to have its own casino. This casino would gnerate over an addtional billion a year to Illinois taxpayers.

And yes, without government, you would certainly need protection, as you appear to be the kid people use to beat up on the playground!

Reeder doesn't have to worry about job protection or money as his wife is a highly compemsated vetenerian. Money may be my issue, but it's not Reeders.

Posted by: ThomOverstreet at May 26, 2006 12:13 PM

Well dang! Now I see I was comparing oranges and tangerines. jcb's post and the subsequent comments were about the lottery. Stupid me, I tied Denny Jacobs connection with riverboat gambling with whatever "public servants" promoted lottery gambling as the savior of public schools, and thus dragged the sainted Denny Jacobs into the fray. THANK HEAVENS FOR DENNY JACOBS---we can't say that enough.

But all that aside, I agree with anon5/25@11:37pm and the always festive havinfun. If we're getting all this money, why aren't our schools better and our area more prosperous?

Posted by: paladin at May 26, 2006 01:55 PM

This area is not becoming a Las Vegas of the Midwest as many had predicted. And we are not drawing large amounts of outsiders to the area. Most of the gamblers are locals recycling the same money over and over again continuing to lose another five percent of their income that the boats profit from at the end of the day. The major problems with relying on gambling as a moneymaker are two-fold. One it creates no practical trade resource. It simply takes money away with the five percent and gives nothing back of value except low wages, it is Pure Profit. Two, the businesses that associate with gambling are low wage paying jobs. They are tourist traps such as hotels, restaurants and retail stores. The people working in those industries get average to low scale wages and benefits. We have plenty of low scale positions, especially hotels. What we need are jobs similar to those we have lost or jobs that take advantage of hi-tech newness and earnings opportunities. That doesn't mean we should dump the industry, just that we need something else that offers more opportunity to the local workforce to stand beside it.

Posted by: NoMorePinocchios at May 26, 2006 02:46 PM

Denny Jacobs and Lane Evans are nothing alike. One is liberal, the other conservative. One of them is still a public servant (until November), the other a private citizen. Lane Evans has been sainted and Denny has always had a little bit of the devil in him.

Posted by: Aunt Clara at May 26, 2006 03:50 PM

It's too complicated for you to understan.Just know that if every elected offical brought in as much money as Denny Jacobs did when he was running the place, you wouldn't have to worry your pretty head about money for schools.

Boland has been in office for twenty years, what has he done to add a dime to the state cofferes? Just ask'n!

I can 't believe you think people should stay on welfare rather then work. If a pension, insurance and $15 per hour isn't enough for you what is? Just wonder'ng.

Posted by: ThomOverstreet at May 26, 2006 05:10 PM

Paladin, Thanks for the good words about ST. Denny Jacobs. I appreciates when someone admits that they were wrong. And remember Than heavans for St. Jacobs.

Posted by: Anonymous at May 26, 2006 10:28 PM