To paraphrase another Illinois public figure, the now famous Chicago Reverend Jeremiah Wright, In Illinois the chickens are coming home --- but evidently not to roost.
Little Hens on the Prairie is subtitled 'The further hilarious adventures of Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn:'
"Illinois GOP gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner performed a public service last week by highlighting some of Springfield's wasteful spending. For example, $181,730 to fly in chickens on state aircraft from Kansas. After they drive out taxpayers, maybe liberals are intending to return Illinois to its native prairie state.
According to an AP report, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources spent $7,363 this spring on 16 flights for 91 endangered greater prairie chickens, or about $81 a bird. Do the chickens qualify for frequent-flier miles? The three-year relocation program is funded by $337,500 in federal grants, $181,730 in state revenues and a $30,000 donation by the Audubon Society. About 60% of the money pays for personnel who transport the birds. In other words, this is more a support program for government workers than for endangered species.
Governor Pat Quinn's office defended the program by noting that the state share comes out of recreational fees paid by hunters, not general tax revenues, as if state funds weren't fungible. The program's putative goal is to restore the state's greater prairie chicken population to more than 300 from about 70.
Trouble is, the chickens don't seem to like it in the Prairie State. According to the state Department of Natural Resources, Illinois has been working to preserve greater prairie chickens since 1940, yet the population has since fallen by more than 95%. Hundreds of chickens were relocated in the 1990s, but most died due to Illinois's severe climate.
Chickens might get some sympathy from state taxpayers over the inhospitable living conditions. According to a Gallup poll earlier this year, 50% of Illinois residents said they would flee if they had the chance—more than in any other state. Between 2012 and 2013, a net 40,000 Prairie Staters flew the coop, which was also a nationwide high. Earlier this month, Caterpillar CAT in Your Value Your Change Short position announced it is closing three plants in Illinois and shifting production to right-to-work Michigan.
Meantime, the legislature has passed a budget that increases the state's backlog of unpaid bills to vendors by $2 billion. "The budget doesn't avoid the tough decisions," said the Governor's spokeswoman Brooke Anderson. "It just postpones them." If Mr. Quinn wins re-election, a tax hike is virtually guaranteed in the lame-duck session.
And in other news, the Department of Natural Resources has announced it is planning a survey to gauge the public's opinion toward black bears. Illinois doesn't boast a black bear population, but a cub was recently spotted in the state. Biologists suspect he was lost, not unlike the Governor."
When it hurts too much to cry, it's time to start laughing.
So sit down, take a deep breath and then laugh loudly, Illinoisans.
After that, please resolve to do the right thing for yourselves and your fellow citizens by pressuring the "public servants" to act responsibly.
And when all else fails, try the voting booth at the next election.
Otherwise sooner rather than later it's likely to be game over.
That's my take.