Madison County Makes The Big Time

Ed Murnane Feb. 27, 2005, 2:04am

Congrats To Lakin, Tillery, Carr, Bono, Tom Maag And His Father, Etc.

It's not often that a small community gets this kind of recognition: a visit in January by the President of the United States; mention by the President in his remarks as he signs a new law, surrounded by legislators of both political parties and chronicled on national television and by every major newspaper in the United States; a call for action by one former United States Attorney General (a Democrat) and a few months later, a request for that same action to another former United States Attorney General (this time a Republican). Even a new newspaper.

No, it's not often that a small community of 260,000 or so gets this kind of attention, short of a natural disaster or plane crash or crime spree.

But there is no doubt now that Madison County, Illinois, is firmly etched in the history books, in future law school text books, and before too long, the "Judges of Madison County" will be better known than the "Bridges of Madison County." How long will it be before David Letterman has a "Top Ten Reasons To Stay Away From Madison County, Illinois?"

The citizens of Madison County, Illinois, undoubtedly pleased to have this growing national attention, owe a debt of gratitude to those who helped achieve the honor. They should express their appreciation to lawyers like Steve Tillery and Rex Carr and Brad Lakin and his dad.

They should send flowers to Randy Bono, a lawyer, former judge and blow-hard who insulted former US Attorney Griffin Bell (a Democrat from the Carter Administration) last April and who urged more recent US Attorney General John Ashcroft (a Republican in the Bush Administration) to "bring it on" when Ashcroft was asked to investigate the judiciary in Madison County.

They should erect statues in honor of distinguished local judges, especially Nicholas Byron and Phil Kardis and Ed Ferguson, who most certainly have helped raise property values and improved access to health care.

They should declare a county-wide holiday in honor of lawyer Tom Maag, who thinks the best way to keep offensive political signs off his property is by suing. (At least he thought that, until he thought better and dropped his suit). Tom may have relatives who should be honored also. Maybe there's even another lawsuit.

President Bush used the words "Madison County" five times in his nine-minute speech before signing the Class Action Fairness Act last Friday. He was only three minutes into the speech when he referred to his January visit to Madison County.

Fortunately, six minutes after he mentioned that visit, he sat down behind a desk and signed "George W. Bush" to the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005.

While this law is not going to solve all the problems and change the judiciary in Madison County overnight, it is a start.

And there should be no mistake: President Bush and the US Congress -- including US Senator Barack Obama and Illinois Democratic House Members Jerry Costello, Rahm Emanuel, Daniel Lipinski, Melissa Bean and Danny Davis -- did something for Madison County and Illinois that Illinois legislators have not yet been willing to do and they began to un-do some of the damage caused by a lot of local "powers" who still think they're in control.

More News