Category Archives: patrick fitzgerald

I THINK … Blago wins big, but only temporarily.

I will now indulge in a moment of “I told you so.” While most pundits and joe blows were calling Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich a nut cake for his high visibility public antics, I suggested that he might just be the shrewdest of the shrewd.

Most folks, and virtually all lawyers, think he should have kept his mouth shut – let his calm and cool attorneys handle public inquires. That’s what all those other indicted politicians did. Oh wait! All those other indicted politicians eventually got convicted and went to jail. Rod dodged 23 bullets and his brother, Robert, all four of the charges against him.

I proffered the opinion that as humiliating some of his pants dropping shticks were, they just might give him a few jurors – at least one – who will hold out for a guy they have come to know “more personally.” As of yet, I have not heard why that one juror was a hold out, but she kept Blago and brother from looking at some serious hard time – at least for the moment.

Trying to influence the jury pool is not invented genius. Former Governor George Ryan tried the same thing with his release of the death row prisoners – which got him a couple of Nobel Peace Prize nominations while he was awaiting trial. Apparently neither the Nobel jury nor the Federal Court jury was impressed. He did not get the Nobel Prize, but he did get six years in the slammer. Ryan was also hoping to get a friendly African-American on the panel since almost all the commuted prisoners were black.

Blago did not fall for any of that. He understood that winning the bleeding hearts of European liberals and the small cadre of domestic capital punishment opponents was not good enough. Maybe he knew that blacks tend to make tough jurors, and if the gambit didn’t work for a pompous white Republican politician, it was not likely to work just because he was a pompous white Democrat politician.

No. No. No. Blago knew that his best chance was to appeal to the Jerry Springer fans. Methinks, Donald Trump did not recognize Blago’s abilities when he booted him off the Assistant show much too soon.

Now, I know the ex-Governor did get convicted on one-half of one count – lying to the FBI – and is now officially a felon. But, after the feds threw everything they had at him and ginned up 24 real criminal counts with hundreds of years of jail time, you have to give the victory to Blago and his equally outrageous father and son defense team for staving off twenty-three and a half counts.

His only conviction was for fibbing to the FBI, not on any of the really serious criminal offenses. Personally, I think that is a pretty cheesy charge, and a five year penalty is a bit extreme. It is what they hung Dick Cheney’s guy, Scooter Libby and Martha Stewart after they could not convict them on the larger charges.

Since anyone under extensive interrogation from the FBI is likely to spin, fib a bit or simply misstate the truth, it is almost impossible not to be convicted. It is a “crime” that never would have been committed if the person was not indicted on real criminal charges.

It seems the prosecutors are determined to re-try the Blagojevich brothers. Why? Because they can. The deck is stacked against defendants to such an extent that convictions are almost unavoidable. THAT is what is so impressive about the jury action. The Blagojevich brothers beat some incredibly long odds – but unfortunately for them, the game is not over. If nothing else, the re-trial will provide some more great politics-as-entertainment for the reality television viewers.

My guess is that the re-trial will make Blago a bit of a folk hero. I know he was not acquitted on any of the charges. But, some seem to feel that enough is enough. The feds used their unlimited resources, but could not convince all 12 members of the jury. In the process they have destroyed the lives and reputations of two people. The humiliated the then Governor by arresting him in front of his family in order to stop what they allege was a rampant crime spree – which apparently the jury did not see. They got Blago booted from office without any presumption of innocence. They have bankrupted two families with children. In our system, prosecution IS punishment.

Okay. So much for the sympathy. I think Blago is as guilty as sin – and I think it is not likely he will pull the same rabbit out of the hat a second time. He may get off on some charges, but I am betting he gets found guilty on at least half. Blago has only survived to fight another day.

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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.

>OBSERVATION: The Chicago-izing of America

>If elected, will Barack Obama save the Chicago Democrat machine? Duh! Of course.

The oldest and arguably most racist and corrupt political machine in American history has been showing signs of a death rattle these days. Thanks to a crusading U.S. Attorney and a growing disenchantment with the point man, Mayor Richard Daley – and the Daley clan, in general – it seems that the political institution launched in the 1930s is tottering.

Most critical has been the loss of patronage leverage. Thanks to the courts and something called the Shakman decree, the Chicago bosses can no longer use government employees as political and personal lackeys. They cannot impose the historic indentured servitude that forced underlings to work precincts and raise political dough. They can no longer safely re-sell government services for campaign contributions.

However, for many years, the law was simply ignored, and monkey business in City Hall continued as usual. That was until a one-term Republican senator, Peter Fitzgerald, refused to play go-along politics in the appointment of a new U.S. Attorney. Over the objections of the good ole boys of both parties, the Senator picked the untouchable Patrick Fitzgerald (no relation).

Now with hundreds of indictments and convictions under his belt, including one governor, a smattering of high profile influence peddlers and Mayor Daley’s closest aides, the machine mischief of the past has come to a screeching halt. In a complete reversal of polarity, the endorsement of an alderman today will most likely kill a job applicant’s potential for a city job.

In addition to the structural problem, Chicago is transforming from a “city that works” to a community beset with critical financial, social and infrastructure problems. What is knows locally as “the corruption tax” has placed Cook County and Chicago in the stratosphere of taxing municipalities. Yet, to the chagrin of the public, children still go uneducated and potholes go unfilled.

Enter President Obama. The irony in having an African-American (even half) breath life into the white-controlled political machine of Chicago is not lost on the locals. Obama would not be the first “window dressing” black political figure to provide a measure of politically correct diversity to the racist machine – gaining a personal piece of the political pie while keeping the greater black community in perma-subservient underclass status.

Despite promises to the contrary, you can rest assured that Obama will most certainly dismiss Patrick Fitzgerald and appoint a patsy recommended by Illinois’ strident partisan U.S. Senator Dick Durbin. Daley, who some believe could be indicted, himself, will breath the loudest sigh of relief. Once again, the effect of reform laws and court decisions will be thwarted by lack of investigation, enforcement and prosecution.

The city’s and state’s financial problems will be provided financial opiates from the federal vault which will temporarily mask the surface symptoms of the mismanaged local economy. Obama & Co. will open the federal treasury to whatever his political padrones need. Chicago’s inefficiencies and costs of corruption will be plastered over with cold cash courtesy of the national taxpayers.

Like Lazarus, an Obama presidency could raise Chicago’s 2016 Olympic bid from the dead. While there would be some entertainment value for the people of Chicago – offset by the frustrations attendant to extreme overcrowding – the real winners would be the political insiders who would not only get the best seats at every venue, but would pocket enormous amounts of money from every imaginable skim and scam.

Whatever the Chicago machine has lost in terms of the power over local patronage will be more than made up from the mother lode of jobs available on the federal payrolls. Chicago cronies and family members will be filling moving vans heading east within days of an Obama victory. At least two Cabinet positions will be handed to Chicago Democrats.

With the trifecta of Obama in the White House, Dick Durbin one step away from the top job in the Senate and Rahm Emmanuel as heir-apparent to the speakership of the U.S. House, there is no doubt that the Chicago Democrat machine will be the proverbial kid in grandpa’s candy story.

>FOLLOW UP: Blago’s CTA senior subsidy a loser

>Well the chickens have come to roost on the buses and el trains of Chicago.

I am referring to Governor Rod Blagojevich’s blatantly political, self-serving legislation that gave all seniors, regardless of income, free rides (<= read that, taxpayer subsidized) on the cash starved public transportation system. He seems to think “old” means poor. Or maybe just more liberal politics designed to make everyone beholding to government for damn near everything.

As predicted, the ridership among seniors has increased – along with the budget deficit. The Governor’s plan was never about the poor. I can see some means-tested subsidy for seniors who must travel by public transportation. Give me a reason they need to travel, and show me they cannot afford it, and I say, “”give them a freebie.” Why any sane community would give gazillionaire Sam Zell (who spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on his annual birthday party) a taxpayer subsidized ride is totally beyond me. It is nothing less than welfare for the greedy, not the needy.

Now with the increase in ridership, the CTA is experimenting with the idea of getting more people on each el car by removing seats and provide more standing room. This is where I start to appreciate irony. You know where I’m going … right?

Yep, we add all those shaky old people, with their canes and walkers, and we accommodate them by taking away their seats. This is a joke … a game. You put 50 tottering seniors on an el car and see how many are still standing at the end of the line. You get points for knocking them over like bowling pins. Or, maybe it is more like bumper pool, were the oldsters bounce off the more foot secure passengers until the post-prime riders all topple to the floor.

When we get these kinds of half-ass solutions, just remember that the money to solve these problems has been siphoned off by the insider crooks – which some of us call the “corruption tax.” The problem with the corruption tax is that it gets raised secretly. No budget. No vote. And until U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald indicts someone, we don’t even know where the money went.

Next time you are motivated to give up your seat to an oldster, just remember, they are not paying for the ride much less the seat.
(This gives me an idea. How about we charge extra for seats? People with seating privilege get special “seating tickets.” In fact, we can even provide “season tickets” with designated seating like the pews in the colonial churches. Hmmmm. The only problem … the crazy Governor and is friends in the legislature will probably give away all the valuable seats to the old fogies – except for the ones provided to those who have at least precinct level political clout.

That’s already how the handicap license plates and windshield signs work. I am betting a lot of you … like me … know people who have handicap car signs and are quite able bodied. If you don’t know anyone like that, just hang round a handicap parking spot and you will meet quite of few of them.)

>REACT: Obama a reformer? Puhleeeez

>In a recent Chicago Sun-Times column, Carol Marin advised Barack Obama to start naming his Cabinet as a means to get past the lipstick level journalism of the day. She suggested naming U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald as Attorney General. A splendid choice, but the usually insightful columnist seems to have forgotten where she resides. So, I thought I should send her this letter.

Dear Carol,

I am a great fan of you and your professional work. However, your recent Obama column shocked me for your lack of realization of the world in which you live. Apparently you got suckered into believing that Obama IS a reformer. Oh sure, he is selling that image nationally where people do not know Chicago and Illinois politics. But, you should know better.

Obama is the product of arguably the most corrupt political operation in America. For Mayor Daley to sanctimoniously deny the existence of “the Machine” is as absurd as his father once denying the presence of “the Mob” in Chicago.

(I have to interject here. LMAO The photo on the right of Obama and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley is the first photo that pops up on google images when you search for “Chicago political corruption.” And you think life ain’t full of funnyironies? Actually, under that search there are quite a few photos of Obama and nefarious characters. Okay, back to the letter.)

Obama was first elected to office by knocking all the competition off the ballot in the good old Chicago tradition. He was the benefactor of the patronage of some of the sleaziest influence peddlers and inside wheeler-dealers – one of whom, Tony Rezko (left), is now a convicted criminal.

Obama endorsed all the machine candidates, and in doing so he endorsed flagrant cronyism, nepotism and illegal patronage. His political god-father is Illinois Senate President Emil Jones, who supported legislative pay raises while opposing every bit of reform legislation. His chief political consultant, David Axelrod has been the flack for the machine for years. And on and on.

And what about Obama, himself? He has never … not once … produced or supported any reform legislation. He has never voiced criticism of the corrupt practices of the Machine. Most recently, he was asked to encourage Jones to pass ethics legislation. He demurred. Never once has he pointed a reform finger at the corruption within his own political base. He never challenged the establishment. He never voiced his support for whistle blowers and investigators. He never promoted “change” in Illinois – believable or otherwise.

On the other hand, as a state senator, he played Chicago-style politics by doling out taxpayer money to friends and supporters without much oversight and accountability. Several of his community improvement projects failed and the money “vanished.” He left his district not much better than he found it.

On the matter of Fitzgerald (right), Carol, you completely missed the mark. As President, Obama will do what the Machine demands – fire Fitzgerald. The most serious problem the machine has is a truly honest, independent REFORM U.S. Attorney. Whatever promises or lip service you may hear to the contrary, Obama will serve the Machine, not the public interest, in this matter. He owes the Machine bosses that much. He will deliver in the good old Chicago way.

>FOOTNOTE: No criticism for Mayor Daley

>Little noted in the massive glowing coverage of the Democrat convention was a speech by Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. I found his remarks memorable for only one thing he said. Referring to the overall tone of the convention, he said, “We don’t want any criticism.” That is pretty much the way he runs Chicago.

There is no doubt that the latest Daley to rule Chicago wants Barack Obama elected. Seems natural since Obama comes from Illinois. But it is more than favorite son parochialism. It is more than the advantage in procuring those federal funds that comes with having your own President. The biggest benefit, however, is the firing of that pesky reform-minded, highly effective, crusading U.S. Attorney who keeps a rather impressive “to be indicted” list — and many observers think Daley is on it, along with Governor Rod Blagojevich.

Most of the local folks, who watched Obama rise as a machine candidate, without the slightest inclination for reform, expect that once in the White House, he would drop any pretense of reform for politics the way he learned it — the Chicago way.

>REACT: The Illinois old guard can’t stop justice — hooray!

>I noticed that former Speaker Denny Hastert’s name popped up in the trial of influence peddler Anthony Rezko. It was alleged in sworn testimony that Rezko attempted to use his influence with former White House political guru Karl Rove (thumbing his nose at reform) and former House Speaker Denny Hastert (the chubby guy on the right)to get U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald (pictured left) fired. Originally nominated by then Senator Peter Fitzgerald (no relation), prosecutor Fitzgerald wasted no time to being to justice the flagrantly illegal customs of the Illinois political establishment. Rezko could feel the laser sight on his forehead.

Whether the scheme to remove Fitzgerald was ever launched is debatable, but there is some evidence that the plot was real. Despite an amazingly impressive record as a federal prosecutor, Fitzgerald was inexplicably placed on the under achiever list by the Justice Department as part of a mass firing pogrom.

Fitzgerald apparently dodged the bullet because he was investigating the White House at the time, and his firing would have created a seismic public reaction against the President. It would be at least as damaging as Richard Nixon’s firing of Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox in the midst of the Watergate investigation. And, you know how much good that did Nixon.

There is no doubt that the Rove/Hastert combo would have sent Fitzgerald packing if they could. They had repeatedly used their influence to protect the corrupt Republican establishment in Illinois. Ironically, this backroom dealing was beneficial to the Democrats, but a disservice to the President – putting Illinois’ electoral vote beyond his reach politically.

Rove has long been the protector of Robert Kjellander, the insider bipartisan wheeler-dealer, who has made millions from his political friendships and GOP party positions – including a stint as Finance Chairman for the National Republican Committee, courtesy of Rove.

Hastert tried everything he could to derail the Fitzgerald appointment in the first place. There is every reason to believe that he would be more than happy to remove him now. Hastert failed only because he could not overcome the highly protected Senate tradition of having the senator of the president’s party pick the U.S. Attorney. The senate lock stepped behind their colleague and their valued tradition.

Reform will never come to the corruption-ravaged and hapless Illinois GOP until guys like Kjellander and Hastert retire from the scene for good — or are taken out by Fitzgerald, the GOP’s number one reformer.

The good news is that Fitzgerald is virually untouchable now. In the last election, even the democrat cadidates for senate had to promise to keep Fitzgerald, including Barack Obama. Of course, if Obama does make it to the White House, you can bet that protecting his friends in the Chicago Democrat machine will trump any campaign promise. Let’s just hope that Fitzhgerald gets in enough indictments before he is ousted for doing too good of a job.

>REACT: Daley in the dark … again!

>Once again, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley has issued his standard excuse. “I know nunttin’.” This time it has to do with his son’s investment in a company doing big business with the City of Chicago – well doing big business AFTER the Daley boy and his wheeler-dealer cousin bought into the company.

Hizzoner said his son had a lapse in judgment, and he (the Mayor) wishes his son had not invested in a company doing business with the city. Then the Mayor got weepy as he confessed that he loved his son – and that is about the only thing the tight-lipped Mayor was about to confess. He answered no other questions. Not sure why loving your son trumps the son’s actions. I am sure Papa Capone loved his son too. (Relax, I am not comparing Patrick Daley to Al Capone, only make a point that a father’s love does not exonerate bad behavior.)

All in all, the Mayor sounded pretty convincing, and I really want to believe the guy. However, something just does not seem right. It is also hard to believe that the Mayor’s son did not discuss it with dad, or that no city officials tip off the Mayor that his son was into some questionable deal.

First, if the Mayor’s alibi is valid then young Patrick Daley was sleazing behind his old man’s back. I mean, the kid is savvy enough to know exactly what he was doing – taking advantage of insider information and clout. If Patrick did not know it was wrong, or even wondered, he would have gone straight to his dad to talk about.

Furthermore, if the Mayor intended to do a sincere mea culpa on behalf of his son, he would laid forth the results of his investigation into the matter– even if the investigation was only asking his son, “What in the hell did you do?” That leaves three possibilities. The Mayor did not care to share the information he had garnered with the press and public. He did not inquire because he did not want to know. Or, he knew about it all along.

I think the taxpaying public has a right to know how much was invested. How much profit did Patrick make on the sale of his interest? Who did he sell it to? How did the company get the contracts? Did Daley family members do any contacting of city officials to promote the contract? Why were the Daley family names left off the legally required applications? If the Mayor does not care to get the answers, I suspect U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald might.