Monday, December 03, 2007

It Doesn't Get Any Worse Than Illinois

My Democratic friends and even I as a Republican sometimes have a good time picking on Gov. Mitch Daniels. Regardless of how you may feel about his policies or his personality, Indiana is darn lucky when you look next door to my home state of Illinois and see what they are having to endure with Gov. Rod Blagoyevich (D), who easily has attained the status as the worst governor in Illinois history. And that's saying a lot when you consider that at least four governors have been sent to prison during my lifetime.

Think about it. Your party has overwhelming control of the Senate and the House of Representatives. Every elected statewide official in the state is a Democrat. The mayor of the largest city, Chicago, is a Democrat. And you still can't get anything done. That's were Blagoyevich finds himself. He's called so many special sessions this year, 18, legislators stopped showing up for them. When he tried to take the legislature to court to force lawmakers to show up for his weekly call for a new special session, he got laughed out of court. His pattern of lying to lawmakers is so legendary that nobody will reach an agreement with him on anything unless there is a signed memorandum of understanding for all to see.

To make matters worse, Mike Flannery of CBS-2 in Chicago did an investigative story on the governor's poor work habits. It seems he stays at home in Chicago most days, rarely visits his State House office in Springfield or Chicago, goes jogging with friends, helps his daughter with her homework and occasionally ventures out in public to attend a ballgame. Flannery describes the governor's work habits:

The governor's staff told CBS 2 he's often in the State Capitol, but others we spoke to call that laughable. Those sources say the governor is rarely seen in Springfield or at his Thompson Center office.

So, when he's not there, where is he working? Mostly at his home on the Northwest Side of Chicago. Insiders report that the governor is often up before dawn, making conference calls from a small office there, and sometimes from a political campaign office a few blocks away.

With the knowledge of his large State Police bodyguard detail, CBS 2 watched for several days over three weeks, repeatedly finding the governor at home during normal business hours but with no one other than family coming and going.

At 11 a.m. on a sunny Wednesday, with a mass transit "doomsday" just four days away, Blagojevich, dressed casually, appeared to be working from home as the crisis was building. Being at home, he gets to see his daughters. His staff says he works wherever he is, at all hours of the day.

But key political players, from Sen. Barack Obama to his own lieutenant governor, say they rarely see or hear from Blagojevich. When asked when the last time he spoke to the governor was, Lt. Gov. Patrick Quinn said, "I don't know, couple of months, probably."

When the legislature was meeting for its 18th special session this year to try and bail out the Chicago Transit Authority, Blagoyevich skipped out of Springfield to attend a hockey game. State House reporter Rich Miller describes the unbelievable:

The decision by Gov. Rod Blagojevich to attend a Chicago Blackhawks game Wednesday night instead of remaining at the Statehouse while the Illinois House defeated his mass transit funding bailout proposal says a lot about the governor on several different levels, none of it positive.

Blagojevich knew Chicago TV station CBS-2 was planning to air a report that night about how he often is a no-show at his state office. As the report confirmed, he prefers to hang around his house all day.

The station's investigative report was pretty hard-hitting, but the governor's attendance at that hockey game made it a blockbuster piece. The move boldly served to underscore Blagojevich simply isn't committed to his job, and it highlighted his preference for all things Chicago over his duties in Springfield. There he was, gleefully chatting with the team's president while the hopes of millions of commuters were dashed on the sharp rocks of the Illinois House. Oops.

Frustration with the Springfield mess is at an all-time high in Illinois, and the situation in the Chicago area is the worst I've ever seen. After months of turbulence, which saw local property tax bills delayed for weeks because of a fight between the governor and the House Democrats and then relentless coverage of never-ending "doomsday" threats for public transit, voters are hopping mad. They want action.

Blagojevich left Springfield for Chicago around 6 p.m. Wednesday, knowing he likely would be at the game during the floor debate.

What kind of insane doofus walks right into a trap like that? The station knew he'd be at the game because the Blackhawks promoted the grand event. It's like he wanted to be caught.

The governor reportedly told his aides he felt he had to uphold his commitment to the Blackhawks because he promised them he'd be there.

Mayor Bart Peterson could have taken a cue from Blagoyevich. Blagoyevich waited until he was safely re-elected by voters last year to announce his plan to increase taxes by the largest amount in the state's history and greatly expand the size of state government. Even that was too much to swallow for the Democratic-controlled legislature, which rejected his proposal.

With any luck, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald will indict and send Blagoyevich to prison just like he did his predecessor, Gov. George Ryan. According to the Sun-Times' Michael Sneed, there are rumblings that a former top adviser and close friend of Gov. Blagojevich is close to being indicted. I guess Illinois voters got what they deserve. Before last year's election, there were already plenty of indictments of key associates of the governor involving allegations of auctioning off state jobs, board and commission appointments and contracts, and one of the person's pointing the finger was the governor's own father-in-law, a former Chicago alderman.

So the next time you're so inclined to criticize Gov. Daniels, think about the clown next door with which Illinois is stuck and count your blessings. He's a walk in the park compared to Blagoyevich.


Anonymous said...

Indiana would be better off if MItch Daniels stayed out and did no a good motto At least at home he could not sell, lease or give away state assets.

Anonymous said...

I'll see your Rod Blagoyevich and raise you Ky's Ernie Fletcher:

Fletcher's accomplishments include:

Being indicted.

Pardoning nine members of his administration who were also indicted.

Being an outspoken proponent of intelligent design who claims that the declaration of independence contradicts evolution.

Removing language prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity from the state's affirmative action plan. (In a particularly classy move, he issued this executive order on "Diversity Day.")

Happily, the November elections removed Fletcher from office.

Doug said...

Don't forget the recently departed (and convicted) Governor Taft to our east.

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right -- and we're stuck in the middle with Mitch.

Sir Hailstone said...

If it wasn't for the Illinois voter anger over "Lyin' Ryan", Blago would not be where he is today.

Unfortunate the Illinois GOP self-detonated and this is the result.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Very good, Doug. Good material for the gridiron dinner or whatever they call it.

C. Hedges said...

It's an example of why a two party system is required to have the government work properly.

Anonymous said...

Reminds me (though on a smaller scale) of Evansville Mayor Russ Lloyd skipping an extremely important Town CCC (or whatever it is called down there, it's been a while since I lived there) to go to a Cher concert.

What is he up to now?