Democratic Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn's Tuesday announcement that his plan to shutter a number of prisons -- including the controversial "supermax" prison in downstate Tamms -- is "final" angered a number of state lawmakers.
Perhaps none have spoken out more fervently, however, than state Sen. Gary Forby (D-Benton) who commented that the governor "does not care about southern Illinois" and suggested that the city, essentially, be kicked out of the state and forced into Lake Michigan in a video captured by the Illinois Statehouse News.
"I've been hearing it for a long time, but why don't we do away with Chicago? You know, I'm just about there. I'm about ready to just cut 'em off and push 'em right out in the water. ... Put him [the governor] right on the nose of the boat and push him right out in the water."
Forby added that the Tamms prisoners should be released into Chicago as retribution for the governor's call to close the facility, The Southern reports. (As though the city already doesn't have a violence problem.)
Forby is not the first downstate lawmaker to call for Chicago -- and Cook County, more broadly -- to be forced out of the state. Last fall, state Rep. Bill Mitchell (R-Decatur) introduced legislation that would urge Congress to "enact legislation dividing Illinois and Cook County into separate states." The proposal was co-sponsored by three fellow downstate Republican representatives, including state Rep. Mike Bost (R-Murphysboro).
Mitchell explained last fall that when he speaks with his constituents, "one of the biggest things I hear is 'Chicago should be its own state.'" Downstate voters, he noted, were not on the same page as Chicago voters when it came to issues including taxes, LGBT rights, the death penalty and gun rights.
Weighing in on the matter last year, Gov. Quinn said that "the idea of separating out and dividing us is a bum way to go. It's definitely not the Illinois way to go." Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel earlier this year urged that the "Chicago versus downstate" divide "is not working anymore."
The governor's office says its prison closure plan will save the state $62 million. Prison reform advocates have praised the plan, while some labor groups and local lawmakers have criticized the closures, most of which are set to go into effect on Aug. 31.
Hat tip to the Capital Fax for bringing Forby's Chicago comment to our attention.