* My Sun-Times column today takes the broad view while looking at this botched early release program…
I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that our last few Illinois governors have been hit with a stupid stick.
I don’t know why this is happening, but it’s become a pattern and I’m seriously worried for this state.
One of the nice things about the democratic process is that politicians usually don’t do things that would cause them to lose their jobs. That attitude has its downsides, of course. If too many politicians become too overly cautious then nothing gets done — like what’s going on now in the U.S. Senate.
But here in Illinois we’ve seen some blatantly reckless stupidity that just boggles the mind. George Ryan’s crimes, Rod Blagojevich’s arrest, and now the Pat Quinn administration’s breathtakingly moronic early release program for violent prisoners.
For all his faults, I have always thought that George Ryan was a pretty darned good governor. He got things done. There was little to no gridlock on the big issues. But he stupidly believed that he could behave like politicians did 30 years ago and not suffer the consequences. He had no sense of self-preservation and he is now sitting in a federal prison cell. Ryan’s stupidity still infuriates me to this day.
Rod Blagojevich was a horrible governor. Gridlock didn’t just prevail, it thrived. Chaos became normality. I was happy when he finally got busted and ousted for his unbelievably stupid alleged schemes to shake down the president-elect over the choice of a U.S. senator and strong-arm the rest of the establishment for cash and personal favors. I was enraged, however, at the damage his arrest did to this state’s already poor reputation. Once again, we had an amazingly stupid politician who didn’t have the mental capacity to realize what he was doing to himself and to his state.
And now, for the life of me, I can’t figure out how Gov. Quinn could be so stupid about this botched early release program for violent inmates. As you certainly know by now, the Department of Corrections secretly let out hundreds of dangerously violent inmates — including notorious gang leader Michael Rodriguez, who had been convicted of conspiracy to commit murder — before their scheduled release dates.
This is not only a horrible policy, but also incredibly stupid politics. Releasing violent people from prison early for no good reason endangers lives and rewards people who don’t deserve any sort of reward.
Politically, well, it’s pretty obvious what sort of damage can be done with this issue in an election year.
Well, not quite.
It may be obvious to anyone with half a brain that this is a potentially fatal blunder, but it apparently wasn’t at all obvious to the Department of Corrections. Quinn says he was kept in the dark about the program, which is not what he said when the story first broke.
Let’s take the governor at his word — his second word, not his first — and believe that he didn’t know anything about the program. That still makes him a horribly inept manager. And Quinn’s shutting down the program and admitting it was a bad idea just won’t suffice. Heads must roll. When somebody makes a mistake this bad, a limp slap on the wrist and a halfhearted apology (all the while blaming the Legislature for forcing him to do what he didn’t have to do) is nowhere near good enough.
If Dan Hynes or the Republicans succeed in using this issue to defeat Gov. Quinn, I sincerely hope our next governor doesn’t catch the “stupid disease.” I just don’t think we can take much more of this bizarre behavior. I know I can’t.
* Jim Warren at the New York Times’ new Chicago thingy, didn’t pay very close attention to Hynes’ new TV ad…
The only thing missing in the most notable television ad in the Illinois governor’s race is Englebert Humperdink singing, “Release Me.”
His verse, “Please release me, let me go” would be vividly apt for Dan Hynes, the mild-mannered Illinois comptroller. Mr. Hynes, the Democratic challenger, issued a broadside at Gov. Patrick J. Quinn that included photos of ominous-looking souls (all Caucasians, in a tidy example of Democratic Party political correctness) let go in an early release program that freed some violent offenders who soon returned to prison after alleged crimes and parole violations.
There are at least two black convicts pictured in that ad. It seems pretty clear to me.
* In another Democratic race, comptroller candidate Rep. David Miller is up with a new radio ad. Listen by clicking here.
I’ll have more for subscribers about this race on Monday, but Miller is going up on TV in the last 10 days of the campaign.
* Rep. Mike Boland takes a whack at a fellow lite guv candidate. From a press release…
Representative Mike Boland, Democratic candidate for Illinois Lieutenant Governor , called on Terry Link to return donations from Midwest Generation, which has been a frequent target of community groups and EPA lawsuits. The company’s six aging coal-fired power plants, including the Waukegan Station in Link’s Senate district, are some of the worst contributors to air pollution in the Chicago area. Midwest Generation and its parent company are a top career donor to Link, giving his campaigns over $30,000.
* Inquiry sought for prisoner releases
* Prison reformers sound off on early release rhetoric
* Some Unlikely Allies Push for More Cash for Department of Juvenile Justice: Watchdogs and department of juvenile justice administrators and union representatives all told legislators at a hearing yesterday that the department has been chronically under funded. Kurt Friedenauer runs DJJ. He told legislators that the buildings where the kids sleep at one prison are falling apart.
* Dem foes take aim at county sales tax hike
* Cutting costs the top issue at Cook County Board president debate
* Cook Co. president rivals polite in debate - if not after
* Know your judges
* Hare: Security agencies need to be better coordinated
* Halvorson backs open locks