Ken Dunkin The Black Man that Dared to be His Own Man

Democratic State Rep Ken Duncan pitch against Democratic IL Speaker of the House Mike Madigan
Democratic State Rep Ken Dunkin stance against Democratic IL Speaker of the House Mike Madigan

Ken Dunkin The Black Man that Dared to be His Own Man

State Representative  Ken Dunkin’s audacious  stance has caused quite a ruckus in Springfield. He has in fact upset the apple cart. The fact that he publicly stated what is true of all elected officials  has resonated throughout the state as corrupt system. “I do not work for Mike Madigan,” he declared when the grand master of Illinois called him to task.  

The real response should not be ‘surprise’ but rather an acknowledgement of our legislature process. Truth be told all elected state congressmen and women work for the people who elect them not the Speaker of the House or any other elected official no matter their position.

Unfortunately the majority of the constituency as well as the non registered and non voting community are ignorant to how government really works and has delusional expectations.  First, everyone needs to understand thoroughly what a democracy is and what their role is within a democratic system.

Most people fail to realize or accept their responsibility as a voter. Going to the poles is not the end of your responsibility until the next election. Instead a voter is equivalent to a member of the Board of directors (of a corporation)  advising, approving or disapproving the actions of the elected. In other words the elected are to serve at the pleasure of the people.  If that is understood then the overwhelming response to Rep. Dunkin’s declaration should have been acceptance with open arms as the norm by a majority.

Instead State Rep. Dunkin’s unpopular position against Speaker Mike Madigan conjured up  fears that  Dunkin had  taken an action, which could hurt people. The very idea that he spoke what is legally the law is viewed with fear is what should be alarming. And more importantly is the belief that Madigan with his cronies run things and everyone has to adhere to the mechanism in place.  That’s what should be alarming.

As it stands Democratic House Speaker Mike Madigan historically  has put the fear of God in most. He is viewed  as Illinois most powerful democrat. However with the election of a Republican Governor,  Rauner has given the Speaker  a run for his worth. As they battle for position, Madigan has called on the democrats to show their loyalty.  He vowed publicly that he’d deliver 71 votes  needed to lay down the Governor’s veto of a pro union bill that allowed arbitration in ongoing negotiation talks  with AFSCME union.

So when  Dunkin missed a key vote to override IL Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of a labor bill. Democrats concerned that his independence could influence other African-American lawmakers. And immediately Dunkin was pointed at and deemed the bad guy. Most importantly Madigan lost due to a house divided. 

“It’s incumbent upon black legislators to take the lead,” IL State Rep. Dunkin said.

The press has led the public to believe that it was Dunkin’s one vote that caused the bill to fail when in fact they were 3 votes short.  Democrat Scott Drury voted against the bill. So where’s his onslaught of media for directly voting against Madigan? Then there’s Democratic State Rep. Jack Franks, known as a wild card on controversial issues who voted “Present.” There was no mention of Franks either in the press surrounding the failed bill. Both Franks and Drury are white. Dunkin is Black. So why was he brought to the foreground of the Madigan’s failed victory?

Twelve years as a state lawmaker and Dunkin has never come under this sort of political scrutiny. He has been a good democrat. He has worked collaboratively with his colleagues Black and white.  His absence  angered  Madigan who was left short of the 71 votes needed to override Republican Governor Bruce Rauner’s veto of a bill that would have removed Rauner from negotiations with state worker unions.

 “Had Mr. Dunkin been here, there would have been 71 democrats voting to override,” Madigan said following the vote.

Not to be bullied, Dunkin said, “He’s this omnipotent Speaker that controls and runs all. Why should I wear the jacket?”

Interesting that Madigan led the flurry of press regarding Dunkin’s role in his failed win. The question is why? Is he sending a message to Dunkin, to the Black elected officials or to all would be defectors?
Political editor for Chicago Defender and political consultant, Maze Jackson says the Dunkin defection changes the power paradigm in Springfield.
“When one guy breaks off the plantation it’s got to make a lot of people in Springfield nervous, real nervous,” Jackson said.
If what Jackson says is true then it seems that Madigan is sending a message to Dunkin and the other Black  elected officials.  Perhaps it is a hint that the others get their rogue member on a short  leash. Since there were two white democrats whose votes affected the outcome as well, we have to ask why weren’t they brought to task publicly?
Was it Dunkin’s vocal message that put him or the radar or was his response because he was put on the radar? It appears that he was hunted down and asked about his absenteeism that had been announced in advance. By the way he was working in his community that day. So stay alert.  The public will be watching and participating.
Governor Rauner says he did not ask Dunkin to miss the override vote, but admitted he and the South Side democrat talk frequently.
The Governor said, “He and I share a passion around economic empowerment, especially in the Black community.” 
“If this governor wants to work with me, I’m working with him,” Dunkin said.
Dunkin, a former Legislative Black Caucus chairman exclaims that he is looking for common ground where Governor Rauner’s “turnaround agenda” intersects with what he says should be a turnaround agenda for the state’s struggling African-American community.
“Today is the time that we have to take charge of our own destiny here,” Dunkin said.
So we may say that with Rauner’s election we’ve introduced a new era of politics in Illinois, something that Rauner promised. And if that’s the case  what has happened is proof  that contrary to Rauner’s campaign  argument that ‘Madigan controls all his members.’
And that’s the billion dollar bust! Madigan is pissed that one Black representative trained not to be insubordinate to the mothership, acted independently and flew solo.
The week after the Madigan loss, Rauner was stomping around Chicago blaming Democrats for the ongoing budget stalemates.  True the state hasn’t had a budget since July 1. And yes the Democrats have not accepted Rauner’s structural reform or his turnaround agenda.  I you talk to Democrats they will tell you quick and fast that the devil is in the details. For instance Rauners’ proposal to freeze property taxes doesn’t stand alone. The second tenet of the of the property tax proposal would strip collective-bargaining rights from local government.
So it’s important that each voting member of Illinois Congress review thoroughly the proposed legislature, review  how it affects their constituents and the state overall. Each has to vote independently. At the end of the day that’s what elected officials do–they look out for the best interest of their constituents. 

To those who have said that his independence can hamper the possibilities for Blacks, Ken Dunkin says,  that he thought about that but, “Then I stopped and said, so what! How much more damage can be done to Black people that hasn’t already been done thus far by legal criminals?

Perhaps what Blacks should be looking at is what it is that both parties want of them and put their list of demands on the table. It’s time that Blacks as elected officials and as a people not stand divided but rather united and act accordingly to their responsibility as the elected who serve the voters and voters who serve  as  their board of directors. 


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