By Edward M. Bury, APR, aka The PRDude
Protests continue to dominate the news these days. Whether it’s repressed citizens trying to end decades of repressive rule by sociopaths or state workers rallying to retain collective bargaining rights, people are taking to the streets in droves.
Unfortunately, some die or are severely wounded standing up for their respective cause. That’s the case, of course, in many Arab states in North Africa and the Middle East. And, as The PRDude reported last time, protests and revolutions underway these days are televised and analyzed.
State workers in our neighboring state of Wisconsin have protested in the capitol city of Madison since February 11. As noted above, the big issue is preserving collective bargaining rights. But the real issue, of course, centers on money.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is trying to push through legislation that would save the sate money. In the eyes of union workers, the new laws would strip union workers of the key reason labor unions were formed: To negotiate as a force regarding pay, benefits and other issues. A vote is being held up because a dozen or so Democratic state senators are no where to be found.
Without a quorum, there’s a stalemate.
These rogue legislators allegedly have left the state to hide out in exile here in Illinois. Where are these ex-patriot pols staying during their visit? (For the record, we have plenty of Democrats here; in fact, one, Rahm Emanuel, was just elected mayor of Chicago. But that’s for another post.) No one knows for sure, however some have shown up on TV.
Like Wisconsin and many other of the 50 states, Illinois is in dire financial straits. That’s why I’m thrilled to learn we have some visitors who may be here for the long haul. (As of this evening, the protests around the beautiful capitol building in Madison continued; and the “vanishing” legislators remained underground.) We could use the sales tax revenue.
In a laudable effort of good faith, I offer our neighbors from America’s Dairy Land these suggestions on what to do while visiting the Land of Lincoln.
1. Visit Springfield. Our state capitol is located in just about the geographic center of the state, where it’s pretty flat. Yes, there’s historic sites honoring Abraham Lincoln, but not a whole lot else to do. Springfield also is known as a place where the top politician, the governor, has gotten into trouble. In fact, four of the last seven Illinois governors have been convicted of crimes; three went to jail, and another may end up there. On second thought: Stay away from Springfield.
2. View Chicago’s Breathtaking Lakefront. Chicago, like the neighboring metropolis of Milwaukee, is largely defined by its location on the western shore of Lake Michigan. We’re very proud of our 29 miles of lakefront, most of which is parkland. And, now it’s easy to tour our storied front yard because the cars stranded along Lake Shore Drive during the Groundhog Day blizzard have long been towed away.
3. Take in a Fine Meal. Some of the finest restaurants in the nation — make that the world — are located in Illinois. Well, more precisely in Chicago. And today, the culinary charge is led by a bold young chef named Grant Achatz of the Michelin three-star restaurant Alinea. It can take months. And months. And months to get a reservation at this temple to fine dining. But take heart Wisconsin legislators: Mr. Achatz is about to his next restaurant — Next. Forget the unsuccessful attempts at scoring that a table at Alinea. Here’s the policy at Next: “Instead of reservations our bookings will be made more like a theater or a sporting event. Your tickets will be fully inclusive of all charges, including service.” Not sure when Next will open, though.
And, of course, our Wisconsin friends could just hang out with some of our local elected officials. Many have not yet been indicted.