By Jim Bowman
At town hall meeting, Oak Park library, July 17, 2013 — from Illinois Blues: How the Ruling Party Talks to Voters — Rep. Lilly wants a committee, Sen. Harmon defends Democrats' redistricting:
The high cost of college education was mentioned.Health care costs "are at the heart of it," Harmon said, offering a unique perspective, connecting tuition costs to health care.
Lilly picked up on the cost of college, making it first cousin to funding of public schools. Missing not a beat, she offered a solution. "My first thought is to establish a committee." Then she revealed her personal, unassailable conviction: "I believe our education system is in crisis, from kindy-garten [sic] on up. . . . This. Is. Crisis. Level." (Said slowly, every word a stop.)
Legislators "should make sure it's equitable for all citizens," she said. "Our great state can do better."
Asked about the state's not paying what's owed to personal care-providers, Lilly again waxed assertive: "This is, to me, a no-no. We need to pay these vendors, and that's what they are, on time. It's unconscionable . . . happening over and over. . . . That's why I'm here," apparently meaning in the legislature, probably not at the library, but who could say for sure?
She closed, telling the questioner, "Give us a call." This while giving no telephone number or email address or even street address, which for what it's worth was a few blocks inside Austin, one of the city's highest-crime-rate neighborhoods.
The redistricted district:
This location was symptomatic of her low-profile, virtually nonexistent approach to representing mostly white, well-policed Oak Park, not to mention other communities in a long meandering (gerrymandered?) line moving northwest as far as Franklin Park, eight miles from her office.
The long meandering line (her district) was stark evidence of the state's 2010 redistricting by the Ruling Party to make sure black and other Democrat office-holders are elected with at most token opposition. In another of these meetings, Harmon explained such redistricting as a civil-rights imperative, citing federal law in the matter.
He was apparently referring to the requirement to "remedy a violation" of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. If there was such a violation in Illinois districts in 2010, nobody talked about it. But for the senator, it provided respectability to Ruling Party redistricting.
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