…and we’re sure ex-gov Blagojevich won’t mind the familiar reference. He is, after all, going to make a lot of new friends from so many interesting walks of life. In federal prison they might call him Rod, or Roddy, or even Blago… Or something else less wholesome.
The verdicts came in, the pundits had their say, and now we await the sentencing. How much time will Blago get? Will he lose his state pension (it might seem obvious, but ex-Governor and current inmate George Ryan held on to his)? What will become of the Blago children?
Blago’s quotes outside the courthouse post-verdict dealt with “getting home and explaining to his little girls.” Fortunately for Patti and the girls, her father is a longtime Chicago machine player. You can bet they’ll be looked after. Blago’s other quote: “Frankly, I’m stunned.”
Really? You’re stunned that you were convicted, even after the impeachment, hearing the tapes, reading the transcripts? Are you still stunned that you were charged in the first place?
From the beginning, one chief theme of the Blago defense has been that he was just participating in full-contact Illinois politics. He was doing the deals, working the system, using the Chicago Way to get it done for the people. And he was right about getting stuff done. Just look at the huge pile of debt he helped pile up. Look at programs like All Kids and Chicago Airport #3, designed to pander to the electorate and move him into the national spotlight. Look at how he crushed opposition with campaign fundraising, doing deals and rendering challengers toothless through sheer cash acquisition.
What’s truly sad is this: the people of Illinois elected him and re-elected him. We continue to elect incumbents from both parties and allow power brokers in the legislature to maintain their positions. We brought in Quinn, who’s approach may be different from Blago’s, but who’s policies are eerily similar.
And where was our current Governor after the verdict. He was out there trumpeting his chops as a reformer. He brought up the ‘governor recall’ provision (an arcane new law for recalling an elected governor that will likely never work), and campaign finance reform. Well, Governor, let’s talk about campaign finance, shall we? The new law is completely toothless. The only thing it does is cap individual donations; nothing in there about LLCs, PACs, financial transparency, or other disclosures.
So it goes. Maybe Quinn can avoid prison and thus claim more success than his two predecessors. But any such success will be severely limited by his continuing failure to the address the state’s financial crisis. Maybe we shouldn’t be so hard on him, though, because the current system does not have much to do with sound, responsible, effective government.