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Gov. Quinn’s Pension Monster, ‘Squeezy The Python,’ Derided As Lame

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An actor recoils at the  horror of the state "pension squeeze" embodied by the character Squeezy the Python. (ThisismyIllinois.com)

An actor recoils at the horror of the state “pension squeeze” embodied by the character Squeezy the Python. (ThisismyIllinois.com)

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Updated 11/19/2012 at 5:15 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) – Where’s the love for Gov. Pat Quinn’s pension reform push featuring — wait for it — “Squeezy the Pension Python”?

The governor’s web-based social media strategy hasn’t been met with much enthusiasm, CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports.

Some are openly critical of the approach. Others are quietly diplomatic. Still others are saying nothing at all about Quinn’s introduction of a cartoon character that represents the threat of unfunded pensions on state finances.

The effort will use Twitter, Facebook and the website thisismyillinois.com to explain how the state has come to have the largest unfunded pension liability in the country, a staggering $96 billion.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Nancy Harty Reports

The idea behind the Squeezy python character certainly is scary. The skyrocketing cost of state pension payments — now $5 billion a year — puts the squeeze on everything else Illinois needs to spend money on, such as education, public safety and healthcare.

“There’s less and less money for those very important priorities,” Quinn says.

Quinn’s carefully orchestrated announcement was backed by a group of youngsters Sunday.

Some, like state Rep. Jack Franks of Woodstock, called the media strategy “juvenile.”

Democratic leadership in Springfield said it “doesn’t do anything to address the problem.”

Mayor Emanuel gave a more diplomatic response.

“You have to engage the public in a serious discussion about the choices involved,” he said.

Quinn’s move to mobilize the public comes after months of unsuccessful shuttle diplomacy with the Democratic and Republican leadership in Springfield.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Dave Dahl Reports

Public-relations strategist Thom Serafin says the governor appears to have achieved his end game of getting people to talk about pension reform.

“He has stimulated people to get involved and talk about it,” Serafin tells WBBM Newsradio’s Dave Dahl.

He adds one thing is missing: a solution.

State public employee unions continue to fight the governor’s plan to increase the retirement age and cut cost-of-living increases, saying workers are being unfairly blamed for the problem.

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