Sunday, December 14, 2008

Just Another Day at the Capitol

Since I drive the venerable Queen Mary around Kansas City with Illinois license plates (never heard them called tags until I got here to Missouri), I am sometimes asked what I think about the current controversy surrounding Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. First of all, you have to believe me that I am from Illinois as I could spell Blagojevich without looking it up. Second of all, you know I am a son of the Land of Lincoln because I am not real excited about it. Frankly, for Illinois, this is par for the course.

Since 1960:

William Stratton (R): not convicted but charged with tax evasion.

Otto Kerner (D): was bribed by owner of racetracks. The bribes came to light when the owner deducted them from her income tax as normal and customary business expenses. He was no longer governor but was a federal judge when he was convicted and sent to prison for 3 years.

Dan Walker (D): hated by all. After serving was convicted of fraudulent loans and practices surrounding an oil change franchise.

Jim Thompson (R): never convicted or charged but led one of the most patronage riddled administrations ever, only disbanded after a long court battle. To get the most menial of state jobs, you had to be a member in good standing of the Republican party. I know, that is why after getting a degree in Public Administration, I had to leave Illinois, I could not get a job.

George Ryan (R): Currently serving time in Federal prison for corruption. It is possible he may get a pardon. Ironically for a Republican, Ryan actually is a hero of mine. He had the boldness to stop the death penalty in Illinois due to concerns over the morality and fairness of it. "We have now freed more people than we have put to death under our system," he said. "There is a flaw in the system, without question, and it needs to be studied." He eventually commuted all death sentences to life and pardoned some with flimsy evidence.

And now Rod. And that is just the Governors.

Business as usual. All the hacks in the state are going ballistic over his troubles. Why? They can't stand him personally, not because he is crooked. Obama? He is an Illinois politician. Of course he is shady... but in this case, I don't think he was involved.

So to take advantage of the current media attention and to enshrine corruption as intrinsic to Illinois as Lincoln and prairies, the state has recently decided to revise the state song:

By thy rivers gently flowing, Illinois, Illinois
All thy Gov'ners to prison going, Illinois, Illinois

The state license plate will now feature a likeness of Lincoln and a border made of handcuffs and prison bars.

I kind of like the idea.

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