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1 Introduction ThisbookisaboutagoldeneraoflegislativeactioninIllinoispolitical historyandmanyofthemenwhomadeitso.Specifically,itexplores the post–WorldWarIIperiod from1947 to 1977anddescribesthebipartisan behavior of members in the Illinois General Assembly. Moreover, it identifies a list of critical issues debated and passed by the legislature, many of which favored downstate Illinois, and the means by which that was accomplished. Yes, there are many stories from that time of tomfoolery, corruption, greed, and sleight of hand. Not many of the characters who served deserveabronzestatueforbraveryandcourage .Theirethicalshortcomings aside, the principal characters produced a body of work that deserves recognition for its progressive reach into every corner of the state. The members fought on the floor of each chamber, stabbed backs behind the scenes, traded special favors for votes, and pulled every legislative trick in the bag. Such is the history of making laws most anytime. Stalemates occurred, but few prevailed. In all, it was a political circus with results. The record looks positively uplifting when compared to periods before and after in Springfield. Also reflected inthistaleisagraphicpictureofevolvingregionalpolitics at a time when the arena featured more than just Chicago against the rest of Illinois or an emphasis on factions of only one political party. During the three decades, three Republicans (Dwight Green, William 2 Introduction Stratton, and Richard Ogilvie) and four Democrats (Adlai Stevenson, Otto Kerner, Samuel Shapiro,and DanWalker)servedasgovernor.With few exceptions Republicans controlled the state Senate and House. For much of the thirty years Democratic politicians from southern Illinois initiateddeals,bigandsmall.Politiciansalloverthespectrumhadcritical roles in passing and defeating the proposals, but it took dealmakers to get things started and finished. Times were different. Compared to today’s legislative activity, conditions were primitive. Until the 1960s, the General Assembly met every two years for six months, with an occasional special session thrown in. If the leadership could not squeeze the business in during that time period, it did not come up again for two years. Members of the House and Senate had no staffs, and the modest pay required most to have a second or third job at home. Campaign costs, remarkably small even when adjusted for inflation, came out of the candidate’s pocket for the most part. Without laws for financial disclosure,dollarsflowed fromallmannerofinfluential interests.ThatmightexplainwhymanylegislatorswalkedaroundSpringfield with their hands out. However, the part-time nature of state governmentdidnotinhibittheintroductionofgrandideasorhugeexpenditures . Towardtheendofthethreedecades,thecumulativeeffectsofpoliciesand annual legislative sessions created pressure for more sources of revenue, which changed the dynamics of governing substantially. Who were the persons who made things happen in Springfield and across downstate Illinois? Paul Powell, Clyde Choate, and John Stelle were principal players in the huge stage show. They developed coalitions that cut across regions and parties. They fueled outcomes with money— especially Stelle, who had substantial personal wealth, and Powell and Choate, men of more modest means. They all knew who had the money and how to bring them to the action. In order to get something done in public policy, interests had no choice but to work with those for whom ethical standards were loosely applied. This was not a simple case of good guysagainstbadguys.Youdealtwiththosewhohadthepowerandvotes. Legislation enriched many,especiallyPowell,whoaccumulatedmillions of dollars for personal use. He declared much of it on tax returns in order toavoidthewrathoftheInternalRevenueService.However,onlyPowell knewabouttherest,and norecordsexistforallthemoneyhepouredinto campaigns for his friends. Introduction 3 By the consensus of Powell’s contemporaries—friends and foes— he was a near-genius in skills required to produce legislative results. That alone explains his record as Speaker of the House three times and minorityleaderatmostothertimes .Uneducatedbeyondhighschool,untrained forpoliticalleadershipexceptbyexperienceinlocaldogfights,andagifted orator complete with spicy vocabulary and cornpone humor, he was one of a kind. Choate rode Powell’s coattails through the legislative muck and learned carefully.HebecameasclosetoacloneofPowellaspossible, and they liked and respected each other. After Powell left the legislature, Choate carved his own impressive niche by building on what he learned from Powell, combined with his own tough-minded personality. Often placed well behind Powell and others in terms of impact on legislative affairs, Choate in his full story is quite impressive. Meanwhile, Stelle, full of ideas, bluster, high-octane risk taking, and plenty of money, worked closely in political adventures with Powell. Stelle’s career in elective office ended poorly with a short-lived term as governor in 1940. But many of the contacts he made during that time paid off in later years. It was during the two decades after he left office that Stelle worked deals as a partner with Powell, Choate, and others to formastrongbaseofsupportwiththecountyfaircrowdfromruralareas, andwithmilitaryveterans.Despitethedisappointingoutcomesinpublic office, Stelle never gave in to his enemies. These three—and their close associates...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780809334759
Related ISBN
9780809334742
MARC Record
OCLC
946887802
Pages
200
Launched on MUSE
2016-04-25
Language
English
Open Access
No
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