Still Smokin'

The Madison County Record Nov. 13, 2004, 9:28pm


Thomas Maag

Conspiracy Theory

From the ‘boy, do we have thin skin’ department.

An angry caller from the Madison County Courthouse dialed our Main Street headquarters last week, accusing The Record of being “backed by Philip Morris.”

Hey, we've been accused of worse.

Apparently, The Record’s editorial last week (‘Toss the Philip Morris Verdict, Nov. 8) ruffled some feathers. Fair enough. But so did Judge Byron’s $10.1 billion verdict.

It’s telling to us that some Madison County powers-that-be are so unused to public comment that they would reactively accuse any critic of being on the take.

Is it so inconceivable that someone other than “evil” Philip Morris or its paid bidders would disagree with Byron’s verdict?

We hate to break your heart, whomever you are. But The Record has no connection to Big Tobacco. Our writers and reporters call them how they see them.

Some of us do, however, diligently smoke Marlboro Lights. And we never thought they were healthy.

Sue everybody!

When the Lakin Law Firm’s Thomas Maag, dedicated Democrat and son of former Democrat Supreme Court candidate Gordon, found signs for GOP candidates in his lawn, he didn’t just take them out.

He sued.

Maag’s target is Steve Tomaszewski, formerly the spokesman for newly elected Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier. That’s the guy who beat his dad.

Maag, a personal injury lawyer, says Tomaszewski placed the signs on his property. Tomaszewski denies putting up anything.

Where’s Judge Wapner when you need him?

Maag’s sign suit does ask for financial damages of “less than $50,000.” But he told the Edwardsville Intelligencer this isn’t about the dough.

Then why sue for financial damages? When all one has is a hammer, every problem is a nail, we suppose.

Short Court

Watching animated Chicago plaintiff’s attorney Joseph Power, Jr. rant against Philip Morris to the Illinois Supreme Court was entertaining, if nothing else.

“Phillip Morris (was) deliberately hiding this information from the American public while they hooked new smokers including our children,” Power raged. ”In the end, this record will reflect year in and year out 440,000 people die from cigarette smoking. That is more Americans, more deaths per year from cigarette smoking than all American soldiers killed in WWII.”

The problem with Power’s diatribe, as begged in a question by Supreme Court Justice Mary Ann McMorrow, is that it overwhelmingly addressed the “health issue” of tobacco.

In Price, the plaintiffs do not allege that Philip Morris’ cigarettes caused them any health issues. Rather, they claim they were deceived into paying more money for light cigarettes. The damages assessed are economic.

Off topic or not, during Power’s argument we noticed poker-faced lead plaintiff’s attorney Stephen Tillery cracking a smile.

Tillery brought Power on board last summer to help argue his case. His inclusion brought the ancillary benefit that conservative Republican Justice and Power client Bob Thomas would have to recuse himself.

Arguing before an abbreviated court of four Democrats and one Republican, Tillery likely knew that Power had made his point, even if he didn’t really have one.

Kugler writes a record

Barely studied in the polls was the pummeling incumbent State Rep. Jay Hoffman (D-Collinsville) gave to his write-in opponent, Independent Carol Kugler.

Hoffman won 38,790 votes to Kugler’s 6,180. That’s 86% to 14%.

Still, Illinois House Republican sources say they are quite encouraged by Kugler’s performance against the trial lawyer Hoffman, who serves as the floor leader for Governor Rod Blagojevich. That’s because her candidacy was a write-in.

Focusing on the single issue of medical malpractice, Kugler won more write in votes than any other state representative candidate in Illinois.

Expect a more vigorous attempt by the House GOP in 2006, particularly if Governor Blagojevich faces a primary challenge.

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