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National Editorials & Columns

Where is the old Pat Quinn?

SPRINGFIELD – Will the real Pat Quinn stand up?

One of the trademarks of the old pot-stirring Pat Quinn – the one who existed before he became governor – is you knew where he stood.

You may not have always have liked that rabble rouser’s positions, but his resoluteness was admirable.

Today? Not so much.

Take a look at how Quinn handled an interview with another reporter who dared to ask about whether the governor supports keeping the “temporary” 67 percent income tax hike:

QUINN: “Well I think we have to deal with the pension reform, which is the No. 1 fiscal, financial issue.”

REPORTER: “But ... you campaigned on raising the income tax, should it stay in place?”

QUINN:  “I have worked very hard on pension reform, I know the committee that I proposed ...”

In journalism, that’s what we call a nonanswer.

I liked the old Pat Quinn better.

That Pat Quinn wasn’t ashamed to take a position.

Today, his office packs in more flip-flops than a group of college spring breakers heading to South Padre Island.

A few weeks ago, I asked all of the gubernatorial candidates where they stood on a constitutional amendment being promoted by GOP hopeful Bruce Rauner.

Here’s how a Quinn spokesman responded to my queries:

Me: “So I could say he [Quinn] opposes the amendment as currently written because it includes expanding the size of the House?”

Spokesman: “Yes.”

That would seem a straightforward and unambiguous answer.

But after my article was published, another aide started telling editors that wasn’t what was said.

When I got wind of this, I filed a Freedom of Information Act request for his emails to find out just what was said.

It turns out, the administration was falsely claiming that it had never made a statement that it had.

I like to give people the benefit of the doubt.

After all, it’s possible the original spokesman misspoke or the governor changed his position. Or perhaps there wasn’t adequate communication between two spokesmen.

So I asked Quinn spokesman, Abdon Pallasch, to clarify where the governor stands on the amendment.

He declined.

The people of Illinois deserve to know where candidates stand.

When the administration chooses obfuscation it shows contempt not only for the voters, but also for our democratic system.

Don’t the people deserve better?

• Scott Reeder is a veteran statehouse reporter.

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