Gidwitz and Franks.
It was an experiment that worked. Political Shootout, my program on WLS-AM Sunday was tailor-made for controversy, with two representatives, one Democratic one Republicanhopefully one liberal and one conservativetussling it out and taking calls on state and local politics. A test of its effectiveness is whether all 10 phone lines are jammed. When one side or the other isnt vibrant, usually it trickles down to a few calls. But the experiment Sundayand was for one day onlywent in another direction. With the legislature and the governor at loggerheads, many predictions are that they would paper together a compromise on borrowing and hidden deficits which would leave the next governor with no choice than to raise taxes. Blagojevich say he wont, but many will say he will have to. Topinka has not taken the no-tax pledge and Meeks has forthrightly said he will raise taxes or arrange a tax swap that will definitely mean higher taxes.
Accordingly, I decided to get two fiscally conservative experts, one Democrat, one Republican, to sit down and craft a solution to the budget mess based on zero-based budgeting. I asked that they forego gotcha politics and agree on solutions. My choices were: Ron Gidwitz, with whom I have been very much impressed, the CEO of Helene Curtis who ran as a candidate for governor on the Republican ticket. I endorsed Jim Oberweis but as the campaign unfolded I grew very much impressed with the no-nonsense business-like attitude Gidwitz, a novice campaigner, brought to his task
and State Rep. Jack Franks of Woodstock, a Democrat and chairman of the House Government Administration committee whom I feel is a real comer in his party and a fiscal conservative. I disagree with both on some aspects of social policy: both are pro-choice, for example. But both are non-demagogues who understand budgeting, finance and have the same ideals on the need to bring the state back to fiscal sanity.
I can only tell you that as they explained zero-based budgeting, all ten lines were burning brightly and the lines were burning up with crackling ideas. That they agreed on so many things is because there is only one answer to cutting excessive spending and that is to command all bureau heads to begin from scratch and justify all appropriations. The way government has been doing it for many yearsunder Republican and Democratic administrationsis to take ongoing budgets and say, well how much more can you live with for next year? I hope you heard the colloquy. If not, Ill attempt to summarize it soon and I do intend to bring both back on future datesneither one is running for state office: Gidwitz may not ever run again, Franks is going to have to wait. Neither have an immediate political agenda and both are as smart as heck. Your comments?
Greeley Likes the Pope.
That hardy old perennial liberal, Father Andrew Greeley, has a few nice words to say about Benedict XVI in his Sun-Times column. Earlier he was filled with grave misgiving because he felt that Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, head of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, would be too conservative. Greeley, a free spirit theologically, doesnt hold much with traditional religious thought and believed that John Paul II was too strict.
So filled with depressing thoughts was he during the conclave that elected Benedict, that Greeley even had some dissing words to say about the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity who under Church dogma guides the selection. Anticipating the worst, Greeley (who deserves to get his tuition money back from Mundelein seminary because of his topsy-turvy theology) said that, after all, the Holy Spirit has not been perfect in papal selectionwitness the number of incumbents who were sinners.
After he wrote that, I got a call from a friend in the Sun-Times sports department who said, am I wrong? I seem to remember from my catechism learned in fourth grade that the Holy Spirit guards popes from error, not that it serves as a shield to prevent them from sin. Right he is. How Greeley made ordination without learning that is anybodys guess but it is heartening that he now believes in Benedict and the choice of the Holy Spirit as well.
However we must not give the famed novelist and self-publicitor too much credit. I dont know if youve noticed but Greeleys favorite reporter from Rome is John Allen of the liberal National Catholic Reporter. Allen started as a fairly way-out liberal and is heading, gently, back to home base. His column last week pre-figured Greeleys. Allens stuff can be found at www.nationalcatholicreporter.com under the heading The Word from Rome. Not that Allen is on the reservation entirely, but his latest book on Benedict was right-on. Greeley is obviously benefiting from the very lite spiritual reading hes getting from Allen. But liberals shouldnt worry. Soon Benedict will do something scary like try to enforce doctrine and Greeley will be spouting off. But for now Benedict and the Holy Spirit have pleased Greeley which notifies them that they should continue as they have been