Legislation / Politics

Medical marijuana gets weighed in Los Angeles. | AFP
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Medical marijuana just one issue exposing candidate weaknesses

Sep 22, 2014

 

In a span of a few days, the two candidates for governor easily, if not accidentally, put their weaknesses on full display.
 
Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner last week called a news conference to talk about putting under a microscope the way the state is handing out licenses to grow and sell medical marijuana.
 
Rauner railed against a Democrat-ordained application process underway, saying it’s secretive and ripe for corruption under Gov. Pat Quinn.
 
But then Rauner said something that left people in the midst of the medical marijuana debate scratching their heads.
 
Rauner said the state should put those lucrative medical marijuana licenses up for auction.
 
“Then we can actually make money from the process. Why not?” Rauner said. “Our taxpayers in Illinois deserve a break.”
 
That set off a fury with those who pushed to legalize medical marijuana. Besides not accounting for experience, location and demographics, they say selling off licenses to the highest bidders would only pass along expenses to the patient. 
 
Chris Lindsey, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project, said Rauner completely missed the point.
 
“I’m not sure [Rauner] understands what the program is for. This isn’t a way to raise revenue. This is a way to provide an option to seriously ill patients,” Lindsey told the Sun-Times last week. “States don’t treat medical marijuana programs as a way to squeeze money from seriously ill patients.”
 
So even as Rauner tried to shine the light on the possibility of political insider dealings with medical marijuana, he ended up landing inside of the orbit of how Quinn has portrayed him: a cold businessman who thinks about profit before people. You could already see the ad asking if Rauner plans to run the state the same way he runs his businesses.
 
That brings us back to Quinn. Rauner lobbed one corruption allegation after another at Quinn, featuring the governor’s mug alongside Rod Blagojevich, and calling Quinn the boss of the “Outfit,” called “Patronage Inc.” Sure, Rauner may have been going negative after just coming off a reported double-digit dip in the polls.
 
But then again there was news. Quinn's office had initially withheld a new federal subpoena — this time from the U.S. Attorney's Chicago office — that is looking into the governor's now-disbanded anti-violence program.
 
And Sept. 12, the Quinn administration waited until late in the day to dump the names of clouted employees who were placed in improper positions as part of an investigation into patronage hiring at the Illinois Department of Transportation. The IDOT narrative has dogged Quinn for months. He could have cleaned house on Friday and changed the narrative. He had already cleared 58 political hires from the department.
 
Instead, Quinn released the names of the 103 clouted employees who a watchdog said were part of an improper hiring scheme, and he said they would remain on the payroll.
 
“The people of Illinois are drowning in Pat Quinn’s cesspool of corruption,” Rauner said.
 
Among those who Quinn allowed to stay: the son of IDOT administrator Carmen Iacullo, who once was dubbed the “kingmaker” within the agency and who had been involved in patronage hiring for Chicago’s municipal government before getting his state job in 2004.
 
Sometimes opponents bring out the worst in candidates.
 
And sometimes, they just do it to themselves.
 
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