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The gift that keeps on giving

Thursday, Nov 29, 2007

* Apparently, there was a huge pushback from Gov. Blagojevich’s office against CBS 2’s attempt to broadcast a story about his work habits. But if you didn’t watch it last night, it’s still worth a look, particularly the last bit about how Blagojevich was at a Blackhawks game while the House was voting on the transit bill he supported.

* The Sun-Times has more on the guv’s absence last night…

After being at the Capitol much of the day in pursuit of a mass transit bailout, Blagojevich quietly slipped out of the building with his press secretary and boarded a taxpayer-funded jet to get to the hockey game. He had been invited as a guest of new Blackhawks team president John McDonough.

Blagojevich “went there in his official capacity as governor at the invitation of the president in an effort to promote the Blackhawks,” said spokeswoman Rebecca Rausch.

The decision drew scorn and sarcasm for the unpopular, second-term governor.

“It certainly would have shown a little more interest in what we were doing if he’d have stayed in the Capitol,” said House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago).

Rod Blagojevich is truly the gift that keeps on giving. As a Chicago TV station prepares to air a report that he is AWOL from his state office, he heads to a hockey game while his transit funding proposal goes down in flames. And after promising to deliver all his House Democratic votes on the transit bill, he winds up putting just two votes on the thing. Oops.

I really don’t know what I’d do without this man. There’s just no way that I could make nearly this kind of money with a responsible, even-tempered governor in charge. I may just endorse him for another term. Rod Blagojevich, governor for life!!! I haven’t checked, but I’ll bet that my CPA agrees.

* Using a sports analogy while preparing to fly to Chicago to see a hockey game during the roll call was another beaut

For Blagojevich it’s another political defeat. Earlier Wednesday he appeared outside his Capitol office trying to put a positive spin on the state’s lingering political gridlock, comparing his work on the mass transit bailout to the Bears recent overtime victory. That was when he apparently thought the plan would pass.

But this plan’s fate was sealed even before the House voted. Had it passed, it would have gone to an Illinois Senate where opponents had rounded up enough votes to ensure it went nowhere unless tied to a statewide construction spending program worth billions and likely financed with gambling expansion.

* His predictive powers are also slightly off

[The mass transit bill’s defeat] came just hours after Gov. Rod Blagojevich predicted the bailout would be approved.

“This is a big step forward,” Blagojevich said during an afternoon press conference.

He’s a true Cub fan. That statement was akin to predicting a World Series sweep before a single playoff game had started.

* The Tribune includes this exchange in its story about the mass transit flameout…

Rep. Julie Hamos (D-Evanston), the bill’s sponsor, told her colleagues the money is “desperately needed” to avert fare increases, service cuts and layoffs. She implored lawmakers to support the proposal because of an array of pension and health-care reforms.

But she also sought to lay the groundwork to cast blame on Republicans, noting she and House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) were embracing a gas tax idea that was first brought up by Cross. Hamos complained she had assumed House Republicans who had first promoted the idea could support the proposal now, drawing taunts from Republicans who complained that calling the bill for a vote was a just a political game.

“Oh, Julie, come on. You know this is all a bunch of baloney,” said Rep. Rosemary Mulligan (R-Des Plaines).

Not noted is that Rep. Mulligan voted for the bill.

* More stories, compiled by Paul…

* Editorial: Gas tax swap latest sleight of hand

* Construction haunts transit debate

* Bethany Jaeger: No transit action sets the stage for another show

* Editorial: Seek an end to the agony in Springfield

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - GA Watcher - Thursday, Nov 29, 07 @ 9:41 am:

    I heard that bringing the Governor in to promote the Blackhawks was such a big hit last night that John McDonough will have “guest promoters” at all future games. Next to appear: Drew Peterson.

  2. - Anon - Thursday, Nov 29, 07 @ 9:42 am:

    I was most puzzled by the fact that the alternative didn’t provide enough money to avoid fare increases, thus tanking Metra’s support, making CTA’s support tepid, and causing folks like Dugan to flip. MJM’s 3-D chess fans will undoubtedly say that this was intentional to show Cross and Watson that their rhetoric about fare increases was misguided, but that’s a bit too much Il Principe, even for MJM.

  3. - Ghost - Thursday, Nov 29, 07 @ 9:43 am:

    Oh Mulligan, is there no position you take that you do not end up doing over.

  4. - Cassandra - Thursday, Nov 29, 07 @ 9:46 am:

    I’m not sure Republican-bashing is the way the ultralibs like Hamos should go right now. As a party they may still be comatose, but individual legislators are probably gaining credibility in the eyes of the public as time goes on. They seem much more, well, sane.

  5. - Ghost - Thursday, Nov 29, 07 @ 9:50 am:

    The individual repubs, like Cross, seem to be losing ground. Partnering with Blago, not voting to support their own ideas. Nails in the coffin.

  6. - Linus - Thursday, Nov 29, 07 @ 9:50 am:

    “… individual legislators are probably gaining credibility in the eyes of the public … ”

    I don’t hear that in my family’s, friends’ and neighbors’ growing disgust with what’s (not) going on in Springfield. In fact, exactly the opposite!

  7. - Linus - Thursday, Nov 29, 07 @ 9:52 am:

    And, by the way, I meant to say that I hear disgust with all legislators, and the governor, regardless of party. Ain’t nobody lookin’ very good right now.

  8. - Jaded - Thursday, Nov 29, 07 @ 9:57 am:

    Rich, other than the quotes in the piece, where is the rest of the pushback? I don’t doubt that it is somewhere, but you start the post off with that statement, and then I don’t see the examples of the pushback by the administration. Not criticizing, just wondering.

  9. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Nov 29, 07 @ 10:07 am:

    Lots of great comments about the “Exposing Blagojevich” Story on the CBS-2 website, but this might be my favorite:

    “Numerous state employees have been fired for working from home and charged with felonies under this governors “ethic reform” policies yet, what is good for the goose, is not good for the gander…I think it reprehensible he does not attend sessions and goes to hockey games while major bills are pending in Springfield. Let’s face it, if he were an employee working in your business, we all would have fired him a long time ago.”

  10. - hmmmm - Thursday, Nov 29, 07 @ 10:09 am:

    Everyone I have talked to has had the same reaction about the CBS piece - underwhelming.

    Really, I thought there would be a lot more there than shots of him in a suit leaving his house and wavinmg to the camera.

    And the Quinn piece was funny, but there is quite a bit more story line there than ” the Gov doesn’t talk to people”. I mean, there is a reason he doesn’t talk to Quinn. And Flannery didn’t bother with that.

    All in all, nothing major, but no help to the governor nonetheless.

  11. - Ghost - Thursday, Nov 29, 07 @ 10:13 am:

    Hmmmm overall I have to agree. I am surprised they did not doin any real investugative follow up of this home office. They did not FOIA schedules, phones recrods, check to see if he has a computer there - and if he does FOIA its log etc.

  12. - A Citizen - Thursday, Nov 29, 07 @ 10:20 am:

    guv was asked to come to the hockey game just in case they needed an extra hockey puck.

  13. - Crimefighter - Thursday, Nov 29, 07 @ 10:22 am:

    Rebecca Rausch calling the CBS2 report sleazy journalism is coming from someone who’s very sleazy herself as far as I’m concerned. Smearing the journalist in the face of clear-cut facts shows that this person is a complete idiot and horribly corrupt.

  14. - Mr. Ethics - Thursday, Nov 29, 07 @ 10:30 am:

    State employees can work at home if they get approval. Surely the Gov. approves his own time ethics forms. Not so sure jogging on state time is allowed though.

  15. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Nov 29, 07 @ 10:41 am:

    Look at the results, what do we see?

    If he is working, he is not working effectively.

    If he is governing, he is NOT governing effectively.

    Instead, he is behaving as though he is royalty. Claims that he is always working is similar to any silly talk you’d hear from courtesans defending an old queen. If he really IS always working – this is the BEST he can do? Like an old Aristocratic biddy, only he decides when he wishes to speak to reporters, or if he wishes to speak to his cabinet, his Lt. Governor, or any other constitutional officer in the state. What we have witnessed is the fact that he chooses not to answer questions or address us unless he so desires. What has been occurring, which is worse for him, (and us), is the fact that when he does open his mouth, he reminds us why we don’t like him. Consequentially, it is better for him to stay silent at the very time when we need to hear from a governor. He has created a situation when he is damned if he does, and damned if he does not. The solution for him is to do his job, not sit on his fanny, look over his knitting with pursed lips, and fingerpoint.

    This is more than a partisan issue. He was just re-elected a year ago. We have a long way to row with this broken oar. When a governor fails, we all fail together. When an issue is not handled correctly, and it flops with the kind of nuclear impact we have been seeing, it sets back more than partisan goals. It sets back the entire state. This compounds the very issue that needed to be addressed.

    There are times when, as governor, he needs to do his job by making appearances. He doesn’t do that. There are times when a governor needs to spend months dealing with the legislature to compromise on bills. He doesn’t do this either. There are times when a governor needs to demonstrate an interest in his job. He even fails to do this.

    A football quarterback that behaves as Blagojevich does would be cut quickly from a team. The same thing has happened with this governor; he has been cut from the teams formed to address our current state issues. After five years of failures, he has become someone to work around – not with. Government, even if it can resolve issues without a governor – shouldn’t because there is a reason we have a governor’s office. We have witnessed a General Assembly willing to wait for gubernatorial leadership, but forced by deadlines to act without him because he decided to stonewall and fight, instead of resolve conflicts and compromise with his own political party leaders. A football team on the field without an effective quarterback loses the game. The same thing has happened repeatedly in Illinois, but worse, this is no game.

    Like so many reporters and pundits today, Flannery seems a bit surprised by what he has to report in this expose. I know a few political reporters who are so amazed at the wreckage we have been seeing during Rod Blagojevich’s second term, they are almost speechless, and just don’t know where to begin when explaining the situations we face in Illinois to colleagues. Flannery said that he hasn’t seen a situation like this one in his 30 years of coverage – and I have to agree with him. I have been studying government and politics for decades too, and I have trouble trying to help family and friends begin to understand the mess we are in and how poorly Blagojevich has been as governor. Even using historical standards, Rod Blagojevich is reaching new lows in Illinois governmental history. In my lifetime, I can easily say that Rod Blagojevich has blown right by Dan Walker as an Illinois gubernatorial disaster. Sometimes the truth is so negative, it is not believed. That is where we are right now.

    Rod Blagojevich has three years to repair this mess. With hope barely alive, I just want him to do his job and not cause more disasters. Why is this so much to ask?

  16. - wordslinger - Thursday, Nov 29, 07 @ 10:46 am:

    They knew the story was coming and he still flew out on a state jet for the Hawks game — unbelievable.

    My question: Is there anyone on his staff or in his life who can get through to this guy? He acts as if he has a concussion.

  17. - Cassandra - Thursday, Nov 29, 07 @ 10:52 am:

    Sorry, I don’t agree about the Repubs. As the minority party, they have two choices—to refuse to play at all, allowing the Dems to blame them for everything and escape responsibility for their own role in the current gridlock, or to try and be reasonable while trying to keep their members’ interests on the table. I think Cross is taking the correct route.

  18. - DC - Thursday, Nov 29, 07 @ 11:00 am:

    The CBS story is 5 years too late. This misfeasance is not new but it’s surprising that it is only now coming to light. I think he has become the Carol Mosely Braun of Illinois politics — great human interest story to get elected, great sound bites, but when it actually comes to performing the job, well, we know how that story ended. Thank God he doesn’t have a 6-year term. I fully doubt he will make it for the next 36 months. The U.S. Attorney’s office has been very, very silent and that should be severe cause for alarm in the Ravenswood area, comparatively low property taxes notwithstanding.

  19. - Pot calling kettle - Thursday, Nov 29, 07 @ 11:24 am:

    If a Dem is elected President next fall, Illinois Dems will be begging for an appointment for Blago (even if it means PQ is Gov for two years). Unfortunately, Blago is ensuring that his resume stinks so bad that he won’t even rate an appointment as Ambassador to Berzerkistan.

  20. - Bookworm - Thursday, Nov 29, 07 @ 11:36 am:

    To me the real story isn’t just that he spends so little time at the Capitol or JRTC. It’s why. There has to be some reason WHY he avoids his actual workplaces and the Governor’s Mansion like the plague.
    My guess is that he spends a large chunk of his time campaigning and raising money, which he can’t do at his official offices lest he violate his own ethics rules (not to mention state and federal laws). There is probably hardly a single waking moment that he doesn’t spend thinking about his next campaign, schmoozing with potential donors, etc.

  21. - DC - Thursday, Nov 29, 07 @ 11:46 am:

    Avoiding the actual workplaces would allow a person to avoid the actual, um, work. Hence the story on CBS which validates my personal theory that the Governor should be more thoroughly investigated for ghost-payrolling. There are dozens of people who have been indicted for that in the past who, arguably, worked more than the Governor does.

  22. - The Curmudgeon - Thursday, Nov 29, 07 @ 12:08 pm:

    I watched. I too was underwhelmed.

    Not that I’m defending the guy — but, if he were hanging around the Governor’s Mansion all day supposedly working on the same “big picture” issues, with just as few people coming and going… would that still be a story?

    He’s not effective wherever he’s doing whatever he’s doing, and whether he’s hanging around his house in Chicago or hanging around his Capitol office in Springfield wouldn’t be an issue at all if he were effective.

    Going to the hockey game last night was goofy — but only if you were watching Channel 2. I switched to Channel 5 after Flannery’s report… and saw him again featured in the Sports clip. No connection made between his absence from Springfield and the failure of the latest transit rescue attempt. Assuming this blog did not substantially skew the normal ratings of those broadcasts, Blagojevich probably got more positive PR than negative yesterday by going to watch hockey.

  23. - Spoor - Thursday, Nov 29, 07 @ 1:50 pm:

    Folks meet the future of the United States.
    President Rod R. Blagojevich
    Governing by corruption!

  24. - Bookworm - Thursday, Nov 29, 07 @ 2:07 pm:

    Hey Rich, be careful what you wish for… you might get it!
    When the day finally arrives that Blago leaves office, fails to win reelection or decides not to run for governor again, it will probably be greeted like V-E day in Springfield :)

  25. - anon - Thursday, Nov 29, 07 @ 2:16 pm:

    where’s Bill today?

  26. - Napoleon has left the building - Thursday, Nov 29, 07 @ 2:21 pm:

    Pot - “Ambassador to Berzerkistan” - LOL

    To paraphrase Dennis Green, the Ch. 2 piece is what I thought it would be. Boring and predictable, but the Governor made it way better by going to the Hawks game last night. Without that and without the venomous lashing out by Abby Ottenhoff - the story would have been very boring.

    Abby - I don’t know what was so sleazy about the story. If you really wanted to refute the point of the Exposing Blagojevich story you would just release his schedule for that time period. Unfortunately, you can’t do that because it would make him look even lazier and more worthless than the story did.

  27. - Hard Working Taxpayer - Thursday, Nov 29, 07 @ 2:22 pm:

    I am outraged that he was at that hockey game instead of the special session he called. I can not believe the people of Chicago who rely on the CTA for transportation are not screaming over the fact that he couldn’t be bothered to be in Springfield for the special session. I would feel like that was a direct slap in my face. Certainly shows what he thinks of the taxpayers who are dependent on public transportation. Not good.

  28. - Toni H - Thursday, Nov 29, 07 @ 2:55 pm:

    I just checked the stats on the Poll at CBS 2 Chicago with regards to the Blago feature last night..checking the poll numbers around 11 PM last night showed Blago at 4% Excellent and 85% Poor, as of 2:50 PM today the numbers show a dramatic difference of 30% Excellent and 39% Poor. How can that be? I wonder if the poll stopped transactions from the same IP address??? Thus eliminating “multiple votes” from a single computer - I just can’t believe he can be at 30% Excellent…just can’t…. The only explanation I can come up with is simply: the staff has been real busy…

  29. - Pot calling kettle - Thursday, Nov 29, 07 @ 3:26 pm:

    The gov is sitting at home rating himself excellent, over and over and over and over and over and over…

  30. - B-no name nickname needed - Thursday, Nov 29, 07 @ 3:34 pm:

    i was recently at the Salvation Army Starlight dinner, which is their big annual giving event and very humble it is. This year the Gov was there and given an award. jerry Jones owner of the Dallas Cowboys was given the main award for his kettle call at half time during Thanksgivings game. Blago decided to use his speaking time to boast football analogies and talk about Bart Starr to impress Jerry Jones. this guy has the gift of gab but doesn’t seem to realize where he’s at when he lets it go.
    no class!!!!!!!

  31. - Princeville - Thursday, Nov 29, 07 @ 4:14 pm:

    Toni–robo voting. Not much different then the first ‘comment’ in the comments after the show last night. What are the odds that somebody jumped right on after the broadcast that really didn’t show Blago at his best, and the first comments fall over themselves as to ‘how art thou art’. My opinion, Team Rod on overtime.

  32. - steve schnorf - Thursday, Nov 29, 07 @ 4:39 pm:

    Two points:

    Rebecca Rausch is not a sleaze. Anyone who knows her knows that.

    The state doesn’t own any jets.

  33. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Nov 29, 07 @ 4:49 pm:

    Rebecca is not a sleaze. Take a chill pill, dude.

  34. - Disgusted - Thursday, Nov 29, 07 @ 11:10 pm:

    At last state employees are vindicated. They knew this guy was a joke and a creep after his first year as governor but they were called disgruntled employees or worse yet, Republicans who now had to work for a living. Now the northern part of the state can see what a farce his governing is. And his handlers must be absolutely clueless. Who on earth would allow their “star” to put himself in such a media debacle, when they knew this derogatory piece was coming out that same night. Dumb, dumb, dumb!!

    We should have see it coming. He did nothing at the Illinois statehouse when he was a legislator there, nothing in DC and less than nothing as governor. He uses his political jobs to live high on the hog with no regard for the people paying the freight. Is he related to Leona Helmsley???

  35. - Establishment Republican - Thursday, Nov 29, 07 @ 11:38 pm:

    Blagojevich may think he knows about the Power Play, but the citizens of this state would like to send him to the Penalty Box.

  36. - Bookworm - Friday, Nov 30, 07 @ 6:29 am:

    Curmudgeon, your comments remind me of an incident involving Ronald Reagan.
    If I recall this correctly, Lesley Stahl of CBS News did a very hard-hitting report ripping apart some of the things he was saying on the campaign trail in 1984. After it aired, she got a call from one of Reagan’s aides thanking her for the report! She wondered why and the aide said that if you turned off the sound and just looked at the pictures (which showed a smiling Reagan surrounded by lots of admirers, etc.) it made him look great.
    The aide said most viewers would remember the pictures and not pay attention to what was said, hence, the report was more positive than negative. The same might be true of the clip showing Blago attending the hockey game on Channel 5.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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