"JCAR's role is merely advisory - it does not have the constitutional authority to suspend the regulation," Abby Ottenhoff said in an e-mail.Right. Which is why your guy spent millions of taxpayer dollars trying to bribe them--because they don't matter? It is to laugh.
OK, let's see if I can explain this without rambling. Remember when Rod Blagojevich decided he was going to put the hurt on all the Illinois legislators who pissed him off? And so he cut all their earmarked projects out of the state budget, calling it $500 million worth of "pork?" You have to keep in mind that Illinois hasn't had a capital spending plan for years, so all the stuff your state government probably spends money on, like roads, bridges, and schools, really only gets funded in our budgets through these earmarks. We're not talking about legislators building memorials to themselves or the International Museum of Allergies.
Anyway, Blagojevich thought he would kill two birds with one stone. See, while he wanted to punish and hurt most legislators, especially the House members from his own party, there were a few legislators he knew he needed. These were the members of JCAR, the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules. You see, Blago wanted to implement a radical state health-care plan designed to cover everybody in Illinois. While that's a nice thought, the legislature was swayed by the fact that we've been running billions in deficits in Illinois and are teetering on the brink of ruin. Apparently, imminent bankruptcy is all the excuse they needed not to spend huge amounts of money they don't have. Quitters!
That being the case, they refused to implement the Governor's plan, and they even had the gall to refuse (by a vote of 107 to ZERO) to implement the massive value-added-tax scheme he'd counted on to pay for it all by multiplying our taxes. These people aren't exactly heroes, mind you, but they can count votes, and they know what an angry phone call means. They told Blago to sod off. His one big hope was that he'd be able to implement the plan anyway by using the money he'd cut from the "pork projects" to pay for it.
The only problem is that he doesn't have the power to do that under the state constitution, but Blago doesn't let details distract him from the big picture. He just needed JCAR to look the other way and declare that his unconstitutional actions were constitutional, and he'd be home free. The feds do it all the time with the Supreme Court, so how hard can it be?
Well, to that end, he put all the funding for the "pork" projects belonging to members of JCAR back into the budget. It was a bald attempt to curry favor with absolutely no guile or apology. He was so open about it that he actually approved the funding for JCAR member projects that couldn't go forward without the funding he'd vetoed for another legislator; the most famous example was the "half-a-bridge" in St. Charles.
All was somewhat quiet on this front until last week, when JCAR met. They considered Blago's case and decided that since what he wanted to do was unconstitutional, he wouldn't be allowed to do it.
Now, at this point, Blago has actually failed to bribe Illinois politicians. That's like going to the petting zoo and finding that the geese and the goats don't want the feed you just bought out of the machine. People have been feeding these animals pellets for decades, but they just turn their noses up at you. How is it even possible?
Blagojevich fell back on what he knows: schoolyard taunts.
"Governor, your plan is unconstitutional. You don't have the power to take money from . . ."
"Nuh-uh! You're unconstitutional!"
"Yes, but . . . wait, what?"
"You heard me! Unconstitutional! Your whole committee is unconstitutional, so you can't even tell me that what I'm doing is unconstitutional! You're unconstitutional more! You're unconstitutional first! All your decisions are null and void, so I can go ahead and do whatever I want! I'm the boss! Me! Boss! See? Boss!"
"Is there . . . . is there someone else we could talk to, Governor?"