The fighting Wednesday on the floor of the Illinois House over the delayed release of U.S. Sen. Roland Burris’ newest affidavit was a disappointing return to the acrimony we hoped would fade with former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s removal.

The fighting Wednesday on the floor of the Illinois House over the delayed release of U.S. Sen. Roland Burris’ newest affidavit was a disappointing return to the acrimony we hoped would fade with former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s removal.

House Republicans hammered House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, D-Chicago, for taking well over a week to release Burris’ explosive affidavit. They accused her of trying to cover up for Burris. Currie called such allegations “totally false,” explaining that she thought Burris’ affidavit included only clarifying testimony and that a staff miscommunication delayed its release.

After this pillorying, state Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, proposed a resolution calling on Sangamon County State’s Attorney John Schmidt to investigate scurrilous allegations Blagojevich made on a radio show. (Blagojevich alleged an unnamed legislative leader asked him for a state job for a secretary who was having an affair with a legislator for whom she worked.)

That prompted House Minority Leader Tom Cross, R-Oswego, to explode. (Listen to the exchange between Franks and Cross.)

“What this is really about is … the minority party had the audacity to question the fact that you withheld vital information for nine days!” Cross said. “The minority party had the audacity to question whether you were protecting Senator Burris!”

Cross went on to say that he would file his own resolution calling for Schmidt to investigate every time Blagojevich opens his mouth.

It was only a few weeks ago that the General Assembly seemed united in reforming the image of Illinois government. Wednesday’s playground-caliber dust-up made that seem like a distant memory. Let’s hope it was just an aberration.

Members of the House must stop squandering the opportunity presented by Blagojevich’s ouster and focus on the big problems facing Illinois.

State Journal-Register