Category Archives: Illinois legislature

REACT: Governor ousted … but was it proper?

First the obligatory disclaimer: I am no fan of Governor Rod Blagojevich. I did not like his policies. I think he is most likely guilty of criminal conduct, and will be convicted and sent to prison. I think he deserves no less.

BUT …

I am equally distressed by the way he was removed from office. What transpired is the closest thing to a coup that I have seen under our American system of “innocent until proven guilty” and the quoted more than implemented “rule of law.”

First, there was the highly questionable press conference by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald (who I admire greatly). According to many legal experts, he was out of bounds in bringing the case against the Governor to the court of public opinion before he was ready to announce an indictment. In fact, to this day Blago has not been indicted of any crime. Without that press conference to stir the public against the Governor, and coalesce his political adversaries, there would not have been any serious discussion of an impeachment – bad as Blago may be.

Second, there is the question of the impeachment process. Repeatedly noting that it is a “political process,” and not a judicial process, the leaders of the Illinois House and Senate still failed to explain why “fairness” should not be a consideration. In a unique irony, the Governor was barred by the U.S. Attorney’s office from obtaining testimony from those who might be on the witness list for his eventual criminal trial. He could not cross examine witnesses. The Senate-as-court could only listen to a few minutes out of thousands of hours of wire taped conversations because most of the real “evidence” was being withheld for the trial.

Third: It was not a secret vote. While one may say this provided transparency for the public, it really put the “jury” under the pressure of the mob. The secret ballot protects the individual from the intimidation and retribution of the public. I am quite confident that a secret ballot would have produced a number of “no” votes.

Fourth, since it was quite obvious that the Legislature could not prove a “high crimes and misdemeanors” case, they switched to the less specific “abuse of power” accusation. This dubious charge is in the eye of the beholder. By most standards, the Governor’s battles with the Legislature would not rise to impeachment and removal from office – in fact, the notion of impeachment was not even hinted at the time he took the actions now condemned. This means that the central charges against the Governor were not the accusations of the U.S. Attorney, but things he did several years ago that angered members of the Legislature. In other words, those sitting in judgment took advantage of the public anger over the unproven criminal charges to oust the Governor on the vague “abuse” charges.

Fifth, the leaders of the impeachment effort have demonstrated both chutzpah and hypocrisy. Not only did they not accuse the Governor of abuse of power at the time of the alleged abuse, but they praised him, endorsed him, and served on his campaign committee for re-election in the interim. His abuses of power were not recently discovered, only recently defined by those who engaged in the very same processes as one time comrades-in arms.

Yes, it is good that Blago is gone. And yes, Patrick Quinn (left, being sworn in) will most probably make a better governor. However, the impeachment should only be the first step in a broader effort to clean up Illinois government. The political assassins need to be brought to justice next — if nothing more than to be booted from office in the next election. Though they will now blame the former Governor for every ill in Illinois, they are still part of the business-as-usual process that has brought national shame to the Land of Lincoln.

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>RECOMMENDATION: The GOP should let Blago remain in office

>Most likely, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich will be impeached before all the evidence is considered and testimony taken. The Illinois House, under the leadership of Speaker Michael (I gotta make my daughter governor) Madigan is a hanging jury. Like any kangaroo court, the verdict was predetermined before the articles of impeachment were even drawn up. The impeachment panel is a means to an end, not a deliberative body.

This means that it will be up to the Illinois Senate to hold a mock trial – at which there will be no rules of evidence – and vote conviction or acquittal. This requires a two-third vote of the membership – and that means a few Republican votes will be required to remove the Governor from office.

The fact that it appears that the GOP senators will follow the lead of the Democrat majority is testimony to their lack of appreciation for the democratic process, their disregard for any presumption of innocence, their non-existent party discipline and their abysmal lack of political savvy.

If the Republican leaders had half the testicular virility of the Governor and the political chutzpah of the Democrats in general, they would either abstain or vote against the conviction of the Governor.

On the merits, Governor Blagojevich was duly elected by the people of Illinois. He has been indicted but not convicted of any crime. The legislature would have to both disregard the vote of the people and the highly vaunted presumption of innocence to remove him from office.

What if the Governor is ultimately deemed innocent of all charges? Will he be unimpeached and returned to office? Would his removal by political adversaries be deemed a coup rather than an impeachment? Could he sue for damages?

Since he is indicted, and a judicial process will now move forward, I would rely on a jury of his peers to resolve the question of criminal conduct, and not subject the issue to unconsidered evidence, amateur judgment and political opinion.

I would also remind the public that the leaders of the lynch mob** are the very same people who endorsed his re-election. In fact, the leader of the impeachment effort was his campaign co-chairman.

The Republicans should have no part in this political chicanery.

Okay. Then there is the “other” reason to vote against conviction. It leaves the Governor and the Democrats – friend and foe alike – to hang out to dry for the next two years, or at least until U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald actually convicts the Governor of at least one felony.

The opposition party could be on the verge of total implosion, and the Republicans seem to be on the verge of bailing them out – a move befitting the often designated stupid party.

Now, I know some say it would be irresponsible not to remove Blago so that peace and tranquility can be restored to the governmental process in Illinois. This just means business as usual.

If the Illinois Senate fails to convict the Governor, and the lynch mob sees that their prey has eluded the noose, things will calm down. The critical business of the state will move forward out of necessity. However, the process is likely to be more controversial, more transparent, more open to public sentiment, more bipartisan and more democratic. The idea that democracy is best served by public serenity is bogus. Heated public debated is more beneficial than quiet back room deals.

When I was growing up in Chicago, we used to say that there was no disservice to the public when Mafia members killed each other. Likewise, there is no disservice to good government to have the pre-eminent Democrat party break down into tribal warfare.

Yeah! I think Blago is probably guilty – “probably,” I say. And yeah! I am not a fan of his politics and philosophy. And yeah! I think he is not sharpest knife in the drawer. But I think justice and politics are better served by letting him continue to fill the office to which he was elected by the people (at the recommendation of all those now trying to remove him) until such time as a jury of his peers finds him guilty of the crimes for which he is only accused.

I have to confess … I have a third reason to keep Blago in office. Good theater. This is a political demolition derby. It is awesome. It is spectacular. For the first time in ages, I can’t wait for the next news update. Political conversations and the proverbial grapevine are a twitter with news, speculation, opinions and predictions. I mean … what is more fun than watching arrogant people run around like fools.

Think about this. If they had booted Blago out of office in December, he never could have appointed Roland Burris to the vacant Senate seat. In doing so, the Governor has at once sent a good man to Washington and exposed the hypocrisy and racism of such national Democrats as Senate President Harry Reid. Now Rules Committee Chair Diane Feinstein, who will handle any Senate inquiry into l’affaire Burris, is saying to seat Burris. This gets more delicious by the minute.

For once, I hope the Republicans can be as shrewd and crafty as the Democrats. Hmmmmm. Probably not. Oh well! It was fun while it lasted.

** Yes. I referred to the Democrat leaders as a “lynch mob.” Whether Blagojevich is guilty as hell, or not, is irrelevant to the conduct of his political adversaries. Lynch mobs did not always hang innocent people, but they always circumvented the all important process of justice.

>LMAO: Obama "calling" for reform in Illinois

>While Barack Obama showed not on scintilla of interest in reforming the thoroughly corrupt political machine that produced him, he is not under some pressure to poop, or get off the reform pot. National and Illinois-based media has been wondering out loud why the self described agent of change is not pushing to pass the reform package on languishing in the Illinois Senate — Obama’s form venue. The question is particular pesky since the state senate is headed by Emil Jones, Obama’s fellow African American, close friend and political godfather.

Well I am happy to report the under pressure from the media, Obama has taken action. Well … at least the appearance of action. He said he would “call” Jones to encourage him to pass the reform legislation.

I can hear that call now.

Obama: Hello, Godfather.

Jones: Hello boy. (<– African-Americans can use that word about each other.)

Obama: Godfather, I have been getting a lot of flack about never doing anything about reforming Illinois.

Jones: I’ve been reading that. They just don’t know that Illinois ain’t ready for reform.

Obama: I know, but its getting me some bad press … and you know how I hate bad press.

Jones: Of course, son. You’re not used to it like the rest of us. Just water off the ducks back.

Obama: Well … today I told the press I would call you to ask you to pass the reform legislation.

Jones: Smart move, boy.

Obama: Thank you, sir.

Jones: I’ll be sure to tell the press about your call, and how strongly you pressured me to pass the legislation. I can say I am reconsidering my position. Oh! Better yet. I’ll say I will work to pass it because you are such a persuasive guy.

Obama: Really? You’ll really pass it?

Jones: No! Of course not. You crazy? But I can say I will — at least until after the election. I control enough votes to make sure it never passes. I’ll come in favor of the bill, but make sure it gets locked up in committee anyway. You know how we do these things.

Obama: That’s really great. I knew I could count on you.

Jones: No problem. After all we got to get you elected. The Chicago machine never controlled the White House before. And of course, you need to be President to get rid of that U.S. Attorney Fitzgerald. Maybe you can appoint Mayor Daley’s brother as the new one.

Obama: Sure.

Jones: And brother Bill Daley to the Cabinet if he decides not to be governor.

Obama: Sure.

Jones: Personally, I would not mind being ambassador to Jamaica … or Aruba … or Puerto Rico. Obama: Puerto Rico is part of the United States.

Jones. Oh! Well you decide. I just want a nice tropical island.

Obama: Sure. And thanks for the help with the reform thing. People in other parts of the country seem to take that stuff pretty seriously.

Jones: Sure, son. Any time. And don’t forget … that tropical island.

Obama; You got it. Bye Godfather.

Jones: Bye boy.