NORTH SIDE DEMO­CRATIC STATE REP JOINS CALL FOR MADI­GAN TO STEP DOWN NOW

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY MITCHELL ARMENTROUT AND RACHEL HIN­TON Con­tribut­ing: AP

Illi­nois House Speaker Michael Madi­gan says he’s not giv­ing up his gavel, but on Fri­day the drum­beat call­ing for his im­me­di­ate res­ig­na­tion from within his own Demo­cratic Cau­cus grew a lit­tle louder.

State Rep. Jonathan “Yoni” Pizer joined the slowly grow­ing list of House Democrats urg­ing Madi­gan to step down now, with­out the con­di­tions of waiting to see if a crim­i­nal in­dict­ment or con­vic­tion will fol­low the ex­plo­sive bribery case fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors have lev­eled against util­ity gi­ant ComEd.

“With these al­le­ga­tions and pre­vi­ous ones re­lat­ing to ha­rass­ment, cor­rup­tion and mis­man­age­ment, I am trou­bled by the speaker’s fail­ure to live up to the high eth­i­cal stan­dards that the peo­ple of Illi­nois right­fully de­serve from their po­lit­i­cal lead­ers,” the North Side Demo­crat said in a state­ment.

“Al­though I deeply be­lieve in the bedrock con­sti­tu­tional pre­sump­tion of in­no­cence, this is not a court of law, and we can­not wait for the courts to ad­ju­di­cate and ad­min­is­ter their ver­dict. As leg­is­la­tors, we don’t have to hold the speaker to a crim­i­nal stan­dard of proof or ob­serve rules of ev­i­dence in or­der to de­mand a change in lead­er­ship.”

Pizer is the first man among five House Democrats who have in­sisted on Madi­gan’s im­me­di­ate ouster from his posts as speaker and as chair of the Illi­nois Demo­cratic Party.

His call comes a day af­ter Madi­gan — who hasn’t been charged with a crime and has de­nied any wrong­do­ing — worked the phones to gauge sup­port in his cham­ber.

The long­time speaker ap­par­ently came away with the con­fi­dence to de­clare he has “no plans to re­sign,” say­ing the “feed­back is pos­i­tive and demon­strates con­tin­ued sup­port for me and my lead­er­ship roles.”

Pizer told the Chicago Sun-Times Thurs­day he hadn’t got­ten a call from Madi­gan and ini­tially said the speaker should step down “if the al­le­ga­tions are true” — the con­di­tional ad­den­dum which most prom­i­nent Illi­nois Democrats, in­clud­ing Gov. J.B. Pritkzer, so far have tagged onto their chid­ings of the speaker.

Asked Fri­day what prompted his change in stance, Pizer said: “Upon fur­ther re­flec­tion and ad­di­tional con­ver­sa­tions with my House col­leagues and con­stituents, I came to the con­clu­sion that the time for the speaker to step down is now.”

In his state­ment, Pizer urged “my fel­low mem­bers of the Illi­nois Gen­eral Assem­bly to join me. … This is a prin­ci­pled po­si­tion which should be met with­out threats of po­lit­i­cal ret­ri­bu­tion from House lead­ers or staff.”

Pizer’s fel­low Chicago Demo­cratic state Rep. Kelly Cas­sidy called for Madi­gan’s gavel a day ear­lier along with state Rep. Stephanie Ki­fowit, D-Oswego.

State Reps. Terra Costa Howard of Glen El­lyn and Anne StavaMur­ray of Naperville made the first calls from within Madi­gan’s cau­cus, while state Sens. Melinda Bush of Grayslake and Heather Steans of the North Side have also said it’s time for him to go, along with As­sis­tant Ma­jor­ity Leader Iris Martinez, the Demo­cratic nom­i­nee in Novem­ber for Cook County cir­cuit court clerk.

Com­pared with most of those women who pre­vi­ously came out for Madi­gan’s im­me­di­ate res­ig­na­tion, Pizer doesn’t have as much at stake. He was ap­pointed to fill the lake­front House seat in Fe­bru­ary and is fin­ish­ing out a lame-duck term af­ter los­ing in the March pri­mary to Mar­garet Croke.

Croke did not re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment.

But with a key Novem­ber vote on a state con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment to cre­ate grad­u­ated state in­come tax rates, Pizer said “there is sim­ply too much at stake in this his­tor­i­cal mo­ment, and we can­not tol­er­ate any un­nec­es­sary dis­trac­tion from the im­por­tant work at hand.”

Madi­gan has not been charged with any crime, but last week, a fed­eral court fil­ing im­pli­cated him in an al­leged bribery scheme in which ComEd is ac­cused of send­ing $1.3 mil­lion to Madi­gan’s as­so­ciates for do­ing lit­tle or no work for the util­ity.

At an un­re­lated news con­fer­ence Fri­day, Pritzker main­tained his mea­sured ap­proach to Madi­gan’s po­ten­tial res­ig­na­tion, say­ing the speaker “needs to stand up and an­swer these ques­tions be­cause peo­ple have se­ri­ous ques­tions about those things, and any pub­lic ser­vant that isn’t will­ing to do that.”

The Demo­cratic gov­er­nor down­played the po­ten­tial im­pact of Madi­gan and the ComEd case in Novem­ber, call­ing Illi­nois’ Demo­cratic slate a “high-qual­ity group of peo­ple with real val­ues and with a mis­sion to lift up work­ing fam­i­lies.

“That’s why peo­ple are go­ing to show up and vote. And that’s why I think peo­ple will vote for a fair tax sys­tem,” Pritzker said.

RICH HEIN/SUN-TIMES FILE

Jonathan “Yoni” Pizer

AP FILE

Illi­nois Speaker Michael Madi­gan

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