Friday, December 12, 2008

Illinois Politics

By now everyone has heard of Illinois's latest embarrassment. It looks as if our sitting Governor will be the fourth in my lifetime to serve time in jail. According to the indictment, the Feds have Rod Blagojevich on tape trying to sell President Elect Obama's former Senate seat. Pity Blago couldn't wait until our last governor was released from jail.
Now Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. has questions to answer because of his interest in that seat. He wasn't indicted and he doesn't act like a guilty man. When confronted by the media outside his home, Jackson didn't scream about how unfair they were to him. Instead he was polite, and he served the reporters hot coffee. Not something a marked man usually does. Believe me, I saw enough of them. Tony Rezco did the perp walk, and George Ryan rudely denied everything.
Where I'm not surprised Blagojevich was indicted, there are a few things I am surprised about. First off, I'm surprised this dirt bag was reelected. I voted for him once. Some of his actions while serving his first term as Governor bothered me. I voted for the Republican the next time. I'm surprised that he wasn't indicted along with Tony Rezco. The Republicans tried to pin Rezco to Obama's coattails when Obama ran for President. Resco had more dealings with Blagojevich. The other thing I find surprising is that someone hasn't put a foot in Blago's ass over some of the silliness that has come out of Springfield in the last 6 years.
One of the complaints in the indictment was that Blago's office attempted to have members of the editorial staff of the Chicago Tribune replaced with employees who were more favorable to the Blagojevich administration. Whoever was approached didn't think enough of it to pass it on. When the indictment came out, Tribune employees reported not knowing anything about it. Marketing grabbed the news up and within 24 hours, filmed commercials touting the Trib's integrity. Even Governor Blagojevich could not tempt them into changing their editorials.
Blago doesn't work and play well with others, and there's been a lot of talk about recalling or impeaching him. The wire taps on his line by the Feds were an open secret. His wife is Chicago Alderman Dick Mel's daughter. A major riff happened between Mel and Blago over a shady land deal. For a while, the news provided daily updates. Mel said this and Blago said that, and father and daughter weren't speaking because of it. Blago has been fighting with Illinois Senate President Mike Madigan since the day he was sworn in. Now Attorney General Lisa Madigan (Mike's daughter) is seeking a ruling from the State Supreme Court declaring Blago as unfit to rule. And it's been an on again off again relationship with House of Representative President Emile Jones. All of the above, including Blago, are Democrats. I understand that Barack Obama refused to have anything to with Blago. Even though Blago was in Chicago on election day, he didn't attend Obama's party in Grant Park. It was reported that when Obama's transition office called the Governor about the seat and their recommendation, Blago was insulted because they promised only their appreciation in return for appointing Obama's choice.
Blago makes a lot of promises. When Pilgrim Baptist Church, a landmark, burned down, he promised a million dollars to rebuild. Pilgrim Baptist is in the heart of a Chicago neighborhood called Bronzeville. It was originally a synagogue built by Adler and Sullivan. When the neighborhood changed from white to black, the property was later sold to a Baptist congregation. That was during the Great Migration. Adler and Sullivan was the architectural firm responsible for designing the 1892 Columbian Expedition here in Jackson Park. Sullivan was famous for his high arched doorways and Adler for the acoustics. This church is also famous because this was the birthplace of modern day gospel music. As I said, the church burned down and Blago promised money. Instead the State gave the money to a school that used to be housed in the church building. They took it and relocated. The State didn't attempt to get the money back and the Church is still waiting to be rebuilt. That's only an example of what has become the norm in Illinois and not an occasional incident. It's no wonder that Illinois's finances are a mess.
The indictment came about a week after Democratic Senator Dick Durbin asked President Bush to commute the sentence of former Illinois Governor George Ryan. He's a Republican, he's in his 70's and not in the best of health. He was sentenced to six years after Patrick Fitzgerald, the same Patrick Fitzgerald who prosecuted Scooter Libby and now Blagojevich, indicted him for fraud. As Secretary of State, one of Ryan's responsibilities was to issue driver's licenses. SoS employees were required to earn money for Ryan's campaign fund. Some of them sold driver's licenses to unqualified drivers. This came to light when something fell off a semi driven by an undocumented immigrant. That something hit the undercarriage of a van following the truck. It blew up. A minister and his wife were driving 6 of their nine children, including a 6 month old baby, home from vacation. All six children died. The minister and his wife suffered severe burns. The truck driver, who didn't speak English, bought his license from one of those employees.
I've written about George Ryan previously. As Governor, he placed a moratorium on the death penalty when it was found several death row inmates who were wrongly prosecuted and convicted. Ryan then commuted the sentences of 161 others. Several of those were found to be wrongly convicted while many returned to jail after committing other crimes.
Ryan never expressed an ounce of remorse over the lives of those children, and that has always bothered me. Rod Blagojevich's behavior is just plain dumb. I just wonder how he got this far in life without physically hurting himself.


Jon said...

If books can be judged by their covers, Blagojevich looks like the kinda guy you wouldn't want to buy a used car from!

kbear's heart 2 said...

Thanks for the insight. Goodness Illinois sounds like a mess but i'm sure it's not the only place. we have our problems too here in NM...if i don't see you before the holiday, Have a Very Merry Christmas!~kbear

Rose said...

Oh the greed that comes with Politics! Makes me sick!

Hugs, Rose

Chris said...

I was looking forward to hearing your local reaction to this huge national story. Great post, loved your insight.