Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Opinion: A Madiglossary

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    NEWSLETTERS

    House Speaker Michael Madigan has been in power so long, and amassed such an iron grip on statewide politics, that he's even got a language all his own. Follow below for a guide to understanding Madigan.

    West Lawn -- The neighborhood Madigan represents in the state House of Representatives. It is defined by 59th Street on the north, Central Park Avenue on the east, and railroad tracks on the south and west. 

    Madigoons -- A nickname for Madigan’s Springfield legislative aides, who often show up on his allies’s political campaigns.
    13th Ward -- Madigan’s home ward, which he has controlled as Democratic committeeman since 1969, when he was 27 years old. According to the Encyclopedia of Chicago, “[n]o ward in the city gave a smaller percentage of votes to Harold Washington in the 1983 and 1987 mayoral elections. “ Madigan is the political patron of Ald. Marty Quinn, who won office through a classic Machine trick. In 2011, Quinn and Ald. Frank Olivo both filed petitions. Olivo then withdrew.
    Madiganistan -- Tribune columnist John Kass’s nickname for Illinois.
    Cutback Amendment -- An amendment, sponsored by now-Gov. Pat Quinn, that reduced the size of the House from 177 to 118 by eliminating the state’s system of “bullet” voting. Under the old system, each legislative district elected three representatives, usually two Democrats and a Republican or two Republicans and a Democrat. It was difficult for legislative leaders to control representatives who belonged to a district’s minority party. Madigan took over as speaker in the same year the Cutback Amendment took effect, and the measure made it much easier for Madigan to amass power. He needles Quinn about it all the time.
    Lee Daniels -- Elmhurst Republican who served as speaker of the Illinois House in 1995 and 1996 -- the only person other than Madigan to hold that office in the last 30 years.
    Michael Madigan Sr. -- Madigan’s father, a Democratic precinct captain and 13th Ward superintendent who died of a heart attack at age 60. A park on 67th Street bears his name.
    Illinois Constitutional Convention of 1970 -- Madigan was elected as a delegate. It was his first political office. It was also the first office of Richard M. Daley, who represented the district next door. Both carried out the will of their political godfather, Mayor Daley. Madigan was elected to the House of Representatives the same year.
    Madigan & Getzendanner -- Madigan’s private law firm, which he founded in 1972 with Loyola classmate Vincent Getzendanner. The firm specializes in helping large property owners win residential tax breaks.
    Steve Brown -- Madigan’s spokesman for over 25 years. Brown was an investigative reporter for the Daily Herald before agreeing to become a mouth of Sauron.
    Nepotism -- A Madigan family tradition. As a student at Loyola University Law School, Madigan introduced himself to Mayor Richard J. Daley as “Mike Madigan’s son,” and was given a job in the law department. He passed the favor on to his adopted daughter, Lisa, getting her elected to the state senate, then the Attorney General’s office. Madigan’s son-in-law, Jordan Matyas, is a $130,000-a-year lobbyist for the Regional Transportation Authority.