By CATHY SANTOS • May 21, 2007
Custom made doorknob: $ 405
Brass clock for the Senate Chamber: $ 38,582
Four crystal chandeliers: $497,795
Providing the perfect issue for a challenger to oust an out-of-touch Republican or Democrat incumbent……..PRICELESS!!
The Chicago Sun-Times published an excellent investigative report on Monday detailing some of the outrageous expenditures already made in connection with the ongoing renovation of the State Capitol in Springfield. (Read it here.)
In addition to the doorknobs, clock and chandeliers listed above – lawmakers are spending your dime on top-of-the-line urinals at $950 apiece, and automated window shades costing $15,128. Lawmakers are also getting new desks made from solid mahogany, one of the most expensive hardwoods on the market. (By the way, if anyone cares, mahogany is cut from those rain forests that we’re always being told are shrinking by the minute.)
And over on the House side, members are already drying their hands on extra fancy paper towels, complete with an embossed state seal and the word “House.” If you’re just one of the peasants picking up the tab and you drop by the Capitol for a visit, you’ll be stuck with regular paper towels when you have to slum-it in one of the public washrooms. (A spokesman for the Governor says the special House towels are produced “in-house” at no cost – but that’s a ridiculous statement even by Springfield standards.)
One Republican, State Senator Christine Radogno is quoted in the Sun-Times story. She’s apparently now, shocked….shocked…by the extravagant spending. But where has she been? Republican and Democrat lawmakers approved $28 million for the renovations – and $20.2 million has already been spent. Radogno is trying to shut the door after the horse has already left the barn.
This is a bi-partisan embarrassment, and both lawmakers and the Governor’s office are responsible. Of course the Democrats take great pride in their profligate spending of other people’s money. That’s what Democrats do.
We’re Republicans and we’re more concerned about the “Republicans” who sell-out the GOP faithful. It’s a disgrace that we had to find out about this wasteful spending from an essentially liberal news source like the Sun-Times.
But it’s probably no surprise that some “Republicans” didn’t want to tell us about the fancy new digs and washrooms they get to enjoy for a few months each year while in session. It’s just another sad reminder about the sell-out vote that House Republicans like Tom Cross, Mark Beaubien, Brent Hassert, Patricia Lindner, Michael McAuliffe, Skip Saviano and Tim Schmitz made in 2003 when they voted WITH the Democrats to help pass Blagojevich’s 300 tax and fee increases that year. According to the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, the bill these Republicans supported that year – SB 1903 – added $2 billion to the cost of doing business in Illinois.
Those same House Republicans led by Tom Cross also voted “yes” with the Democrats in 2003 on SB 841 – the bill that greatly increased fees on Illinois trucking companies and which nearly destroyed the industry in our state.
But hey, at least with all the taxes and fees they helped raise, Cross and his gang now have pretty towels to use while they are down in Springfield. At least they can live in higher style while busy rolling-over for the Democrats and making sure rank-and-file Republicans remain voiceless in their own State Party.
The bright side to all of this is that these arrogant, out-of-touch officials have provided an excellent campaign opportunity. We’ve already noted it’s the perfect campaign cycle for good Republican challengers to go on a RINO safari. Busy voters can easily understand an issue like this – especially those in a Republican Primary.
It is our hope that some better leaders will emerge this year to clean-out some of the rot in Springfield. We happen to know where you can find some embossed paper towels to help do the job.
Cathy Santos is a Republican political consultant.