Foes face off on pensions, ties to ex-govs

BITTER DEBATE | Finger-pointing in final gov matchup

Friday, October 29, 2010

Gov. Quinn and Republican Bill Brady clashed on Thursday in their most bitter debate yet, wagging fingers at one another over the state's massive pension meltdown, who had closer ties to George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich and teaching creationism in public schools.

The unruly debate on WTTW's "Chicago Tonight" was their last face-to-face encounter before Tuesday's election, and both candidates wound up bloodied.

Their first serious disagreement came over who bore the most blame for allowing Illinois' under-funded pension systems to sag almost to insolvency.

"Sen. Brady was in the Legislature for 17 years. He didn't do anything about public pension reform to reduce the costs for the taxpayers. I got the job done," Quinn said.

"Governor," Brady shot back, his finger pointing at Quinn, "in 1995, we passed the Pension Reform Act. The first thing you and Gov. Blagojevich did was ignore it. You borrowed $10 billion and didn't even put all of it into the pension fund. You've abdicated your responsibility to the pension fund."

Brady repeatedly tied Quinn to Blagojevich, his two-time running mate and now-convicted felon, leading up to perhaps the debate's nastiest exchange.

"You were Gov. Blagojevich's partner for eight years. You can't blame it all on him," Brady said.

"He never talked to me. Everybody knows this," Quinn answered, to some laughter from the debate's audience. "I mean, as a matter of fact, he announced to the whole world that I was not part of his administration. I led the effort to recall."

"Is that why four years ago you called him a decent, honest and honorable man?" Brady said.

"He lied," Quinn said.

"Wait a second, governor, you knew he was under investigation at the time," Brady continued, before Quinn turned the tables.

"What did you tell George Ryan? When George Ryan was running and even after those six children died, what did you say to him?" Quinn said, pointing to Brady's support of Ryan in 1994 and 1998.

The debate later veered into social issues, including Brady's stance that public school districts should be allowed to teach creationism if they choose to. "It's more nonsense," Quinn said.

"So you'd deny a child the knowledge afforded in that?" Brady answered.

"No, I don't think creationism belongs in our public schools," Quinn said.