FORGET THE BUDGET CRISIS, SANDY COLE NEEDS A NEW CHAIR
Representative Sandy Cole is giving me enough material to start a weekly column. You may remember that I wrote about Cole spending years disavowing the controversial Legislative Scholarship Program but had the audacity to keep doling-out the prized perk. It took my writing the story and two separate petitions before she joined every other legislator in the area and withdrew.
Then there was Cole introducing what became known as “the unethical ethics legislation.” Cole, who does nothing in the 62nd district and even less in Springfield, wasted our tax dollars on a political ploy.
But the most recent Cole debacle is, in many ways, the most disturbing. It’s a sad metaphor for politicians putting their selfish needs and comfort first. And in this case the metaphor is also literal. The normally mute Representative Cole finally found a reason to speak in The Illinois House Appropriations Committee on April 18, 2012: She wants the State to get her a new chair!
Yes, you read it right and it’s not a joke. Our State is in its biggest financial crisis, it can’t pay its bills, and Cole uses her official time, in an official setting, to complain to state employees about her comfort, or lack thereof. In fact, it’s such a bad chair “(she) can’t stand up” when she sits for over four hours.
The demand was made to an Appropriations Committee witness, Mr. Richard Alsop, who is in charge of the State Capitol Complex. He was there to testify on ways to curb the State budget and clearly wasn’t expecting a legislator to hit him up for a new chair. “That’s the first time I’ve had that request,” a confused Mr. Alsop said, to laughs and chuckles from other legislators and a disbelieving audience, “I’ll see what I can do.”
Chairs for State Representatives and Senators are custom made and cost about $2,000. Retiring legislators can buy them as souvenirs. But while they’re in Springfield, it’s you and me, the taxpayers, who are paying the hefty cost for Representative Cole to sit — again, both metaphorically and literally.
The political crowd in Springfield has been laughing about this for weeks but the real laughing stock may be the unknowing taxpayers who elected Cole.
“The new 62nd District has been disproportionately hit by the economic crisis,” said Avon Township Supervisor Sam Yingling, Cole’s opponent for State Representative and the only elected official I know who has lowered taxes, given back salary, and cut the Township’s budget:
“Our neighbors are losing their homes and can’t make ends meet; it’s unthinkable Cole has such a sense of entitlement to use a House Appropriations Committee to advocate for her own comfort. It would be nice if she advocated for the people of the 62nd District.” Yingling concluded.
Voters will decide in November if she stays and, perhaps, gets a new chair. If not, it will be Cole’s money, not our tax dollars that can buy the $2,000 chair. My guess is she’ll be more frugal with her own.
UPDATE: June 27, 2012
Representative Sandy Cole contacted me today and said that she had a photo of the chair in question and that they do not cost $2,000. I asked her to send me the photo along with any comment and that I would include it here. I received the following email which did not include a photo which may be a moot point based on her response:
Gene — this discussion was in a meeting room. The request was to use the extra chairs from meeting room 413 to replace the chairs in C-1 (in the Stratton building). The replacement (switching) of chairs must be done by the union workers in the building – at the request of the ‘architect of the capitol’. The issue was not my chair…it was all the legislator chairs in that meeting room. A suggestion was made that the chairs could be fixed by the service shop at the state prisons…I think staff is looking into that possibility. This was one of 35+ meetings with the department heads within the General Services Approp.’s responsibility. There was NO request to buy new chairs…there are plenty in storage throughout the Capitol complex. You should check about facts before you ruin your reputation with silly sarcasm because you are Sam’s buddy. Your coverage of RLA events, photos, videos are quite good and very helpful to residents. “Silly sarcasm does not a good journalist make.” (quote my college professor!)
Representative Sandy Cole
Illinois General Assembly – District 62
34121 N. US Highway 45
Grayslake, IL 60030
office: 847-543-0062 fax: 543-8862