First, my disclaimer.
Having spent some time watching both Pritzker and Trump address the CORONA problem, I believe both want the public to have safety and for the economy to move forward. Both men have wealth beyond anything the average family can comprehend. Both men are used to having their way in business deals as they adhere to the golden rule of he who has the gold rules.
From a purely management point of view, a manager with full executive power is a very efficient model. Management by committee is much more cumbersome and actions take longer to enact. Simply put in the extreme for government, dictatorships are efficient and democracy is messy. Both Trump and Pritzker appear to enjoy having power over the populace as evidenced by their actions. For this article we will simply stay in Illinois.
Pritzker has effectively shut down the economy in Illinois with his quarantine rules. During an emergency, (floods, tornadoes and other disasters) Illinois law is very clear that the Governor has the authority to respond to the disaster and that some civil liberties will be lost for a short period of time. That disaster proviso is for 30 days. Previous advisory opinions of the Attorney General and the State Appellate Prosecutor also took that position. The new attorney general and a Cook County Judge have a different opinion in that the Governor can simply keep extending his 30 day emergency rules every 30 days without legislative input. Some downstate courts may well disagree with Governor’s current authority, but that has yet to be determined on any scale that would curtail the Governor’s current actions statewide. The legislature does return to session this week and it would behoove all for there to be legislative action to determine just what the Governor’s emergency authority parameters are.
During times of danger, people tend naturally to follow the directives of their leaders as people assume the leadership has more knowledge of the events at hand than they do as individuals. What hurts the leader is if the public comes to believe the leader is making the rules and then flaunting them as to the leader. Pritzker is at risk of losing popular support due to events that he appears to have mishandled personally. First the Governor tells the public to bunker in at home and not travel, except for essential business. People will do that for a period of time, but when the public learns that Pritzker’s family has spent much of this quarantine time in Florida and Wisconsin, his words tend to ring hollow. Secondly, the Pritzker family, per news accounts, has stock ownership in companies that research and or manufacture products related to the COVID pandemic. While the Governor’s personal stocks may be in a blind trust and nothing illegal occurred, the appearance does not bode well with the public for trust. Lastly the Governor divided the state into regions and said the regions would be viewed independently for return to opening the economy. Since then, the Governor speaks of the state as one entity, not the regions he verbalized earlier.
To his credit, Pritzker has almost daily told Illinoisans what he is doing and the current COVID status. He has consulted with many experts and has then made his rulings. One can respect that he has done much to manage what may be an unmanageable contagion. At the same time, Pritzker has assumed powers that he may simply not have the authority to enact. He has threatened small businesses with loss of their business licenses and even criminal charges. We are rapidly seeing an abuse of power emerging. The legislature needs to be in session and address the question of the Governor’s executive powers. The states surrounding Illinois have not allowed their governors to have carte blanche control of the state’s economy and health issues.
Pritzker made a point of stating at the beginning of the pandemic that he would place lives before livelihood. That position had great merit in March and April as local, state and national governments were trying to get equipment and hospitals ready for a projected mass influx of patients. That mass influx has not occurred and parts of the army hospitals erected in Chicago are now being dismantled. What has occurred is that the livelihood of Illinoisans has been dramatically curtailed. So much so that financial distress is occurring in many families and state finances will soon be on life support. That financial distress also has a decided impact on lives as shown by health studies of those who are in financial distress. Illinois needs more than one person making the decisions. It is time for the Governor and the legislature to get together and move forward.