By Jim Bowman
He's Bob Galhotra, of Galewood, a public defender in Cook County since 1990, past president of the public defenders' union, AFSCME Local 3315, and avid opponent of the pension legislation that Pat Quinn signed in December — and more importantly, that Don Harmon pushed through.
A "painful and difficult" decision it was for Harmon, he told The Daily Herald, the most so of his 11 years in the senate.
Galhotra would like to make it even more painful, as he explained in an open letter in the Sun-Times to "participants in the Chicago Police, Chicago Firefighters, Chicago Municipal Employees, Cook County Employees, Chicago Public School Teacher and Judicial Retirement Systems."
"Your pension and retirement security is under attack," he wrote. "Our state government has sent us a clear message: You and I are next. You can't stop this alone, but we will, together."
The senate bill "stole the pensions of hard working families," passing with the minimum number of votes. Change one vote, he said, and "we can protect what's been promised to us."
Harmon's is the only Democratic Senate seat contested in the primary, he said. "Tell our Democratic Party leaders that there are consequences for stealing our pensions."
The Herald explained:
That's the bill [what Galhotra would hope to get passed if elected] Harmon said he and other Senate colleagues preferred, but it didn't have enough votes in the House. Some estimates say the bill wouldn't have saved the state as much money as the one that passed — a projected difference between $55 billion and $160 billion.
In other words, what Galhotra wants was not achievable, or so Harmon and other judged.
And though Harmon says he and others have had doubts about the constitutionality of Senate Bill 1 [which became law], "we had to act. We couldn't politically posture."
"It doesn't solve the problem, but I think it gives us a fair amount of headroom to climb out of this hole. When you're in the bottom of the hole, the first thing you do is stop digging," Harmon said. "We could not sit on our hands and say, 'No, we're just going to let the state sink.'"
In other words again, the senate has just begun to fight; and union members and supporters are bound to have even more to complain about, assuming Harmon wins again.
Not to mention that if he does not, the Dem leadership is bound to find another vote to fend off Galhotra and his allies, because as Harmon told The Herald, the problem remains to be solved.