Just saw the talking heads on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” yapping about how mean the judge was to poor Blago for his 14-year sentence. If people in Illinois or people in Illinois government share their beliefs that this sentence was excessive when he got less than half of the 30 years he could have gotten under sentencing guidelines…
and when Blago lied to the FBI, lied to the public, refused to resign after his arrest, refused to resign after impeached, did not plead guilty, used his crimes to get his family 2 reality television show gigs, took the stand in his defense unconvincingly, and only ever apologized for his actions upon sentencing…
then public corruption will never get better because apparently there is still no shame in it.
By the way, the Morning Joe crew announced Pat Quinn will be joining them for an appearance this morning.
The one and only way to reduce political corruption is through real campaign finance reform- Large contributors rarely are donating for charitable reasons- As long as large contributors expect and receive political favortism corruption will continue- Corporations, law firms, individuals giving 50K contributions routinely are rewarded with some type of political payback- Anyone who takes the time to scrutinize Blago’s list of 25K plus contributors and then compares that list to political actions taken by the administration will come to the same conclusion
No, I think I read somewhere that the love of money is the root of all evil. Rod, while clearly guilty, is but a symptom of the real problem with Illinois politics–the fact that it is lucrative and profitable.
Because of the direct risk/reward relationship, I expect that the increased risks (prison time) look for a call to increase politicians salaries and pensions–kinda like what happened after the Enron scandal reforms. CEOs were required to sign statements making them personally responsible for the accuracy of all accounting reports, and their already high compensation took a quantum leap upwards.
I don’t think stiff prison sentences will deter political corruption. Taking the money out of politics is the only thing that will do that.
No, with power comes the temptation to abuse, it’s just too easy. I think the efforts by the press to expose corruption when it occurs has the greater effect in reducing it, criminal prosecutions don’t seem to matter. It’s all good to the corrupt if you don’t get caught, and most don’t.
Sadly, no. Many years around the rail have taught me there is always that small percentage of players who will knowingly violate the law. From the grand masters like Cellini down to the bit players like Tristano, these folks believe a bit of corruption is a simple lubricant that makes government work better for them. My hope is that the honest folks who sometimes get pulled into these schemes will be emboldened to refuse cooperation, and maybe even blow a whistle or two.
Do you think that Rod Blagojevich’s 14-year prison sentence will deter Illinois political corruption?
People who engage in this type of large scale corruption always, always, ALWAYS believe that they are too damn smart to ever be bought to trial. The possibility of a guilty verdict never enters their mind. A possible sentence is even less of a consideration.
The length of Blago’s sentence will have no effect whatsoever on political corruption in Illinois.
- Ramar of the Jungle - Thursday, Dec 8, 11 @ 7:04 am:
I voted “no” because I am a cynic. In the final analysis, Blago’s case will still serve as a victory but only for as long as it has the effect of slowing down political corruption by a little.
Corruption (or any other sin or moral flaw, for that matter) is woven into the tapestry of human nature. It is like “suppressing a cough”. You know that it is comming and you try your best to hold it off for as long as you can. But, eventually the cough still makes it out and is heard. I wonder if those individuals that are sentenced to prison terms could automatically be held accountable for 25 years for the costs incurred by Illinois taxpayers for their incarceration? I would think that someone like Blago (a lawyer) had previously funneled money into “blind trusts” to protect Patty and her kids for just such an event as what happened yesterday? Granted, Rod probably has a large legal defense bill that he owes his friendly defense attorney but that attorney (a friend) could simply later “write it off” when the media attention on Blago subsides 5-6 years from now. Somehow (as goofy as Blagojevich was), I don’t think that Rod would leave Patty selling apples out on the street corner to sustain herself and her kids while he is gone. She will still be eating steak while taxpayers struggle to buy quarter pounders. Also, his federal prison sentence later could be reduced due to an over-crowded prison system. We have already seen Pat Quinn let non-violent offenders out early from prisons due to strained Illinois financial conditions and over-crowded prisons.
And, the beat goes on—–.
no. the culture of corruption is so pervasive in illinois that many politicians here don’t seem to realize that one can actually be honest in public service. i feel sorry for the honest people in government just because i’d bet most of the people they deal with don’t believe they could be as honest as they are…
I may be Polyanna-ish, but voted a qualified “yes/maybe”.
Certainly if Rod has skated with a light or NO sentence, it would have encouraged more criminality by others and things would get worse. And the fact it took so long to take him down and seal the deal helps make people cynical.
I think it helps change a few minds in younger people, those who don’t just give up on civic duty altogether. I think it really helps the vast number of honest and hard-working civil servants to keep up their spirits and their motivation.
Over the long haul, those people slowly move up the ranks, and the lessons of the Blago years will be a cautionary tale that stays in the organizational DNA. That’s a lesson that needs regular refreshing.
It also gives some energy and cover to follow-on reforms by others who are trying to make themselves stand out as the opposite of Blago to score points with voters, so Quinn I think is right to suggest some new ethics legislation in the wake of events. But that window closes quickly, and I doubt he has the skill to close any deals before it happens.
- southernillinois - Thursday, Dec 8, 11 @ 7:16 am:
No, there is such a culture in Illinois. Most of the time someone running for office cannot win without the support of the party and once they win they are beholden and so the circle keeps on going. Meanwhile our legislators are so busy with that end of things they seem to forget the real reason they are elected….to do the people’s work.
No because the Illinois system is established in such a way to encourage this behavior. I believe that Blago’s arrogance propelled it to a new level. Ryan may have never went to jail if the accident and the drivers license scandle hadn’t happened.
No way. Far too much to be gained by underhanded dealings. Sadly, only a rare few are caught. People will just come up with new ways to get ahead. Feel bad for Blago’s children, losing their father for over a decade. Should have thought about the impact his actions would have once he got caught. Too late now.
Of course not. The real players are still in charge and money still talks while everything else walks. A small time character like Rod who charms and cons his way into the big time but lacks the know how to make it safely pay off is an aberration. It is business as usual in Illinois.
Now, the Cellini story might make a few people think twice. We’ll have to wait and see.
In Illinois the voters too often reward those who get it done regardless of the methods used. It can be a local official who cuts corners to get the streets fixed for certain neighborhoods or the governor of the state using his office to steer contracts. Until the voters give as much weight to the means as to the outcome from their elected officials it’s hard to see the culture change.
Nothing will change because there any so many elected officials during Blago’s time and after that the Feds haven’t even gone after. These elected officials are wheeling and dealing and unfortunately will not stop. Blago won’t be the last. The only thing I think Illinois citizens can is vote these people out of office. Look at the individual not what party they belong too.
Thanks Rich for sharing trial info and the comments because at least I know I’m not the only person that feels this way.
I vote a qualified yes. Not everyone will be deterred, but some will. The prosecutions of the last few years have been relentless and have reached to the highest levels of state and Chicago government.
It’s not just small-fry aldermen going down in sting operations, taking cash from people they don’t know while the potted plant records and films all.
Operation Greylord and the prosecutions of Marcy and Roti took down the Outfit’s First Ward organization and the thoroughly corrupted Cook County judiciary. There may be instances of corruption there now, but it’s certainly not wide open like it was in the old days.
You start seeing sentences rising into the double digits, and legendary untouchables like Fast Eddie and Cellini prosecuted, even the most self-absorbed sharpie will think twice.
- He Makes Ryan Look Like a Saint - Thursday, Dec 8, 11 @ 7:59 am:
No, Multi re-elected officials think they are entitled to more than the regular population, that they are smarter than us. Yes arogance is a big factor in their thinking, but until term limits are put in place it will be business as usual.
- Observer of the State - Thursday, Dec 8, 11 @ 8:10 am:
There is so much pressure to raise large sums of money to get elected coupled with the large expenditures of the State that the temptations for corruption are great. What I think will happen is that the next guy will want to meet in person and be more careful of what they say. Just as Blago did most of his talking off state property and on his private phone probably thinking he was safe.
It will deter corruption as well as the Rutan decision deterred “political” hiring or the stricter procurement rules prohibited awarding contracts to favored few. As with any time of fraud or crime, the ways change to be manipulate or avoid the laws. Sort of like one hires a good lawyer to tell you what you can do within the law, a medicore lawyer just reads you the law.
- Retired Non-Union Guy - Thursday, Dec 8, 11 @ 8:11 am:
No. Idiots and egotists never believe they will be caught.
I reluctantly voted “no”. The only effective ‘regulation’ of elected officials is through an informed AND ATTENTIVE electorate. The average voter has proven to be easy to sway with soundbites, barrages of TV ads, and promises of ‘free stuff’ provided by government. This typically means that the candidate with the most money wins and [shock!] monetary resources do not equal moral character. Until voters start taking their role seriously we will continue to get the government that we deserve. I am not optimistic.
Bill, Rich likes you for some reason, so I’m going to try to be civil, and I’m sure you have many fine qualities as a person, but frankly, uber-partisans like you are also a big part of the problem.
I can’t tell if you’ve just been trolling us all for your amusement for the past 7 years or if you really are this far in the tank for Rod. But your unflagging advocacy for the guy thru all of this was very disturbing, worse than Cubs fandom, because Cubs fandom, while an illness, has no impact on the running of the state and the livelihoods of every citizen.
As long as party faithful like you turn a blind eye to the wrongdoings of “your guy”, we can’t move this state forward.
The joke is over. The guy was crooked and evil, and he got his come-uppance. Now that he’s going away for up to 14 years, I wish you could donate your… zeal… to a far worthier cause than championing the disaster that is Rod.
My other point is that Rod was enabled by a system based around paying for more TV airtime than your opponents. We can’t really fix the underlying problem unless we short-circuit that chain of giving inside influence to donors funding the TV campaigns. My answer to that is publicly funded campaigns and free TV and radio airtime, equal to all legitimate candidates.
No. He was regarded as a buffoon pretty early in his second term, and spent the entire trial polishing that image. Future scammers will just believe they are much, much smarter and plunder away. When Vrdolyak went down they attributed it to the company he kept with Stu Levine and think they keep better company.
Chicago Tonight, last night, had Alison Siegler from the University of Chicago as part of a panel on the sentencing. She said academic studies have shown that long sentences do not deter crime. Makes sense when you think about it. We have long sentences for many crimes and yet people keep commiting them.
- CicularFiringSquad - Thursday, Dec 8, 11 @ 8:25 am:
Voted yes, but that only applies to real dopes
Nearly everyone else already obeys the law, does not look forspecial deals or fixes
The Simpson study showed that over 40 years andauniverse of about 1 million elected officials, workers and vendors at all levels of state andlocal govt about 1/10th of 1% didsomething wrong….sometimes not related to govt
There should be zero tolerance, but more ought to start facing these facts?
Certainly this is not the time to listen to those who have no real experience who want to wrIte more rules
No, because nothing has changed. Look at the recent actions on our budget crisis, or should I say lack of action.
And I now firmly commit to being an Illinois political agnostic. I sincerely doubt the existence of any rational Illinois State Government.
I voted no. It isn’t just one person, it is the entire system.
In order to deter this type of activity you must also reach into the middle and lower levels of those hacks and cronies doing the bidding of those on top, with the full knowledge that it is wrong and against the law.
Until there are cases tried and convictions at the lower levels, those in those levels will rise to do the same thing they are now doing with impunity.
Just look at the people in CMS personnel positions who took jobs from good hard working employees and replaced them with political hacks. Where is their punishment? They were the vehicle that clown Blago was riding in. How about Fitz going after them? Seek them out from the positions where they are now hiding. Now that would kill the root and the plant!
But hey, it isn’t headlines, and Fitz is a headline kind of guy. Not much press in whacking low level scumbags even though they were investigated and proof accumulated by the bags full. It was simply a diversion to make folks think something was going to be done about it.
That my friends is how it is. The system is filled with bullies, liars, hacks…you name it. And they continue to live well below the radar. Thanks Fitz for nothing. But you sure look impressive to those who don’t know. You picked off a couple headliners and missed the real story.
In order to change the culture, the CEO needs to be both an ethical and effective manager. It takes a sense of mission, personal adherence to the highest standards and an intolerance of ethical lapses. Most of all it takes endurance and support, because the other side constantly chip, chip, chips away at you like the little devil on your shoulder.
I don’t think Pat Quinn is that CEO. I do think Toni Preckwinkle is.
But for many of us, whatever’s playing out at the state level is cold comfort when the corruption of your own town is bleeding you dry. I’d almost kill for a little enforcement action beyond Chicago and Springfield or the tiniest sliver of the spotlight shone on Blago.
But speaking of Toni P, who is the *elected* head of Cook County, many of the CEOs of towns and counties in Illinois are not. You have new sets of elected officials coming in every election but the person really running the show is an appointed administrator who pets them when they go along and undermines them if they don’t. I don’t hear anybody talking about this and how it can worsen the picture of corruption.
I voted “No”, but not because I am cynical about people, or this state, or even about politics or this case as a deterent.
I voted “No” because power, in it’s raw form can be corrupting.
A theme in most, if not all corruption/criminal cases seems to be, “They thought they were abovce the law.” “When ‘X’ decided to do this, they thought the rules didn’t apply to them.”
To believe Rod’s conviction and 14 year sentence will break this cycle, or those quotes from re-appearing time and time again would be foolish.
The “apple” is the deterent of seeing Rod getting 14 years, missing out on his children’s future, ruining their future in many ways, and not wanting that for their family.
The “orange” is the belief “Rod was so dumb, it’s obvious he was corrupt. What a dope.” However … human nature creeps in, “Well, there are reasons we have loopholes … I think I have a better grasp of the gray than Rod did, easily…”
Sadly, I feel we were hear, “They thought they were abovce the law.” “When ‘X’ decided to do this, they thought the rules didn’t apply to them.” well before we can claim Rod, and his 14 years, was a deterent.
I voted no for many of the reasons cited above. Political behavior in Illinois, and elsewhere I’m sure, is informed by a sense of entitlement. The politicians seem to believe that they don’t just represent the people, but that they ARE the people. In doing so, and with our apparent acquiescence, their prime motivation is not service to the voters but to themselves and each other.
Absolutely not. Corruption is a learned human flaw that depends on the person to solve. No legislation can work without the involved consent of people to follow the law. Those whom have conviction are then required to be vigilant in upholding the law.
No, stupidity and hubris guarantee that lawmakers will continue to think they can get away with doing the same things as Blago, e.g., selling their votes on gambling expansion, ComEd rate increase, etc. etc. etc. Meanwhile they gloat in Blago’s demise, someone they always resented and were jealous of.
And politicians also know the Feds are very selective in their enforcement, mostly preferring to go after only the glamour defendants, the top officials. The munchkins largely get a pass.
===You had your chance on “one of the good”. His name is Bill Brady.===
I actually spat up coffee reading that!
You are going to go down that road … today? Every time I feel better about my GOP in Illinois, I get a quote like that … but I got a good hearty laugh, so thanks!
- What's in a name? - Thursday, Dec 8, 11 @ 8:42 am:
Deter, yes; eliminate, no.
Human nature is what it is and there will always be crooks. I think the public tolerated a certain amount of corruption as a given. People referred to the City that Works with a nod to the payoffs etc that got things done. I think there is less and less acceptance of this type of corruption.
No, most of the corruption is by sociopaths who do not contemplate getting caught. The are able to justify what they are doing in their own minds as necessary for the greater good. They don’t think about if I get caught it is only 2-6 years in prison versus 15-20. Getting caught never crosses their minds.
So long as the conditions exist to provide ready opportunity for corruption, some officials will succumb.
Governors have too much power over contracts, appointments and hiring. Just as Chicago alderman have over zoning in their wards. Curb their unfettered power, and the occasion for bribery and kickbacks will be reduced.
Great Onion News Headline below says it all, accompanied by a picture of Blago:
“Least Corrupt Politician In Illinois History Sentenced To 14 Years In Prison”
- wordonthestreet - Thursday, Dec 8, 11 @ 8:53 am:
Voted “no”. Been around politicians for almost 50 years, and nothing changes… because nothing really changes. 98% of our politicians are “owned” by someone or some special interest. Jack Abramoff has identified 4 major changes we need to make to clean up government… from closing the revolving door to term limits. Won’t ever happen.
i voted yes. the deterrent effect will mainly be on the secondary players, not idiots like blago. blago types will still want to grab all they can, and not mind if their shadow is over the line as long as they think they havent crossed it. for those types, it is up to the electorate to see the signs and not vote for the scumbag. i am thinking of all the pay to play surrounding rick perry. for the secondary players, like chiefs of staff and advisors, it should have a chilling effect. even a year or two in jail is crushing bec of the loss of reputation, employment, and savings. as a defense attorney friend says, innocent until proven broke.
As a former prosecutor, I’ve thought about this a lot. I think that jail sentences for white collar crimes have some deterrent value, and some value for expressing society’s outrage. The outrage for Blago — both because of his own conduct and because he succeeded Ryan as a “reformer” — was great.
That being said, I agree with Jack Abramoff, the convicted DC lobbyist, who has been in the media promoting his new book. The worst type of corruption is the legal corruption.
Example 1: I get the bill you want passed. A couple of weeks later you get an invitation to my fundraiser. I make a comment to you at some point that isn’t quite a quid pro quo, but lets you know that I know who my contributors are. Nothing can get prosecuted.
Example 2: Relatives/friends of the mayor are the winning bidders! The mayor may not have told anyone to help them with the contract. He/She may not even know about it. Underlings just help make sure it happens.
Example 3: You hire my law firm to do real estate tax appeals. I don’t handle the appeals - my partners do. My friends and political supporters are the assessor and on the zoning board of appeals. My partners are really good real estate appeals lawyers and they (almost) always win. You don’t even have to contribute to me, just pay your legal fees. I make contributions to my friends, of course. And if you happen to have other business up before my office/committee, I may remember that you hired me. I may even loudly announce that I recuse myself.
Nothing prosecutable here, folks. Just business as usual. Money flowing into the system. Money elects people who keep the system running. New people get their take for their campaigns.
If a politician is greedy, and/or not very smart, he or she might be so obvious about it that the politician “crosses the line” between legal and illegal, and risk being “caught” and prosecuted.
So, in a way, catching Blago, Ryan, etc., is only catching some of the ones who are most stupid and/or arrogant. It’s not deterring the pros from legal corruption.
But that doesn’t mean it isn’t worthwhile. The public needs to know what goes on. And while the legal corruption is horrible, corrosive, and destructive, the outright bribery and extortion is also bad. Sunlight and bleach need to be used on the system as much as possible. They help a little. But these prosecutions, at best, deter some illegal corruption. They don’t stop the bulk of the legal trading of money for access and governmental contracts and favors that is, at best, a necessary side-effect of our system.
- wordonthestreet - Thursday, Dec 8, 11 @ 9:10 am:
Gotta agree with Anonymous. The Cellini case is a good example… he knew how to hide his deals so there was no blatent corruption (but corruption, nonetheless). He even warned Blago’s guys they were not doing it right. He was a pro. Nice man; good father; made a lot of $ at gvmt/taxpayer expense.
excellent column today, rich. i realized blago would need scrutiny when, as gov elect, his first focus was on boards and commissions (small potatoes, but he had different motivation), then the 200 extra state cop cars (ignoring the effect of retirements, he had to go for the cheap shot). then once elected, i started hearing all the personnel abuses. i tried to get a newspaper publisher interested (they endorsed blago) and he said why do we need blago, we have ryan. sorry for all the parens.
I voted no, but…
Rod did not get 14 yrs for what he DID. The prosecution admitted quite openly that he is going for so long because of what he did NOT do. The “take-home message” here is: When the Feds say sing, sing. Rod’s particular arrogance prevented him from believing he would pay a price for not cooperating or benefit, with less years, for talking. If this is the lesson pols learn, while not a deterrent, may help to clean up the mess in the long run.
- Veil of Ignorance - Thursday, Dec 8, 11 @ 9:16 am:
No, people will be just more careful and make sure their conversations are vague enough to avoid any “smoking gun” evidence of quid pro quo (e.g. Blago’s “golden” comments). I think the dirty politician’s view is similar to speeders on the highway: just make sure you’re not the fastest car (biggest offender) out there. I’m sure Fitzgerald has already moved onto their next area or person(s) to look at it.
Yes, but only temporarily for most of them. Once the feds start looking the other way, because they think that corruption has been deterred, a few will be back at it, and if the feds continue to look away, more corruption will follow until the feds start paying attention again and then the cycle of prosecution, deterence and prosecution repeats.
Not until we have a complete overhaul of the election system will our government start to clean up. The current system benefits those who are already in power and discourages outsiders from participating. Illinois has made baby steps forward in campaign finance reform although the “Four Tops” still have significant control. Not until we drastically change our redistricting, primary and campaign finance regulations will we start seeing less bad lawmakers and more good ones.
I voted no. I think Anonymous @9:01 is dead on. Most corruption happens under the radar, in examples like he notes. It’s corruption, but not necessarily jail-time corruption. I think over time a progression develops: “I did this act, and that was ok. - went a bit further and, again, nothing bad happened. Now I can go a bit further, and a bit further,” etc. Going in with guns blazing like Blago did is rare. I think it’s usually it’s a series of seemingly harmless steps that build up over time into something larger. I think that’s why when someone does go down for the big one, they almost always seem incredulous: “What, me?! I didn’t do anything wrong!” Their actions built up slowly and they lost sight of what they were actually doing. They didn’t start out wanting to line their pockets; it just grew into that over time. For that reason, I don’t think this will be a deterrent. No one becomes a full-blown crack addict the first time they try it. They slowly progress into it.
Sadly No. Blago’s arrest & conviction did not even slow down the political operatives in their corruption of state government and their use of power for their own ends. Did Quinn ever “fumigate”? Did anyone pay any attention to the recommendations of the commission headed by Pat Collins (The Illinois Reform Commission)? Does political double-speak persist? Does rampant patronage hiring, promotion & firing persist (even with the Shackman and Rutan decrees and even with “watchdogs” in place)? The guys underneath the high-profile leaders continue to act with impunity, and as long as they can do so, the “Chicago Way” will persist.
The optimist in me voted yes - the cynic in me acknowledges that no is probably the “correct” answer. Most politicians are by nature ego-driven and therefore of the mind that they are too smart to make the same kind of mistakes as their convicted colleagues.
The system is too convoluted for people to move through it with any aplomb. And because of the convoluted nature of the system, bad actors will always skirt the line.
Bottom line, politicians are people, too and people make mistakes. People also act in their best interests, and the opaque system we have created will provide too much temptation for people to skirt the law.
Yes. I think over the course of time anyone with half-a-brain will think twice before engaging in pay to play. I’m not saying that it will never happen again (it will) but this has to give pause to individuals thinking about feathering their own nest in this fashion.
Nope. The real power brokers in IL are still around wheeling and dealing in a much more sophisticated manner. I know you can guess who I am referring to here.
Rod was just too narcissistic and greedy to survive in the shark pond for long. Add unitelligent and inept and you have the semi tragic/comic figure that he is. Even before the day I started my job in 2003, I could smell the selfishness and sense of entitlement in the Blago administration. After beginning my state job in 2003, I realized how pervasive these sentiments were throughout State government and in his appointees and this unfortunately grew worse over time.
I will never forget Rods plea for mercy in the Senate chamber in 2009, and the hypocrites who supported him for a second term wagging their fingers at him. I left the chamber and literally felt sick to my stomach at the hubris of it all.
Dirt Digger: Back off pal. Quinn cannot be compared to Rod in any way as far as corruption is concerned. He has not put the State up for sale like his predecessor…
No. Too many IL politicians are just like Blago-they don’t get it. They believe unfairly using their political clout is a horse-trading game-not corruption. And some of the Blago administration hirees are still playing.
Frankly, I don’t think it will have much effect in the long run. Perhaps only while Patrick Fitzgerald remains as the US Attorney will we see some reduction. However, those who would scam the system don’t reform, they just bide their time.
Really, now, it is up to us citizens/voters to make this change. We should not rely on prosecutors to rememdy our failures as voters. The fact that RB was re-elected while under a cloud of suspicion is an indication that we are not doing our job as voters. Nothing will change until the citizens decide they want it changed. Long prison terms ain’t gonna do it.
I voted “yes” but it’s a tentative yes. I think such a punishment - including the elongated grand jury, trial and sentencing periods, which never seemed to end - will also cast a pall on anyone worried that he or she may be caught. Rod’s essentially been behind figurative bars since his arrest. If he serves 90% of his term, the arrest, grand jury, trials, sentencing and time served will have totaled nearly 16 years of his life. Think about that - that’s almost 25% of his life. If you are a young elected official and went through a similar punishment process, even more of your life would be wasted - not too mention what your young family would go through. Rod will miss both of his daughter’s graduations and may miss his oldest daughter’s wedding - and maybe even the birth of his first grandchild. That is as much of a deterrent as anything else. Granted, not every offender would suffer similar consequences, but the bar has been set and I can’t imagine too many in the public sector would want to jump over it.
I voted no. I think we would have to completely clean house in Springfield and have a fresh start to get close to a corrupt free environment in Illinois. But someone, somewhere is always going to push the envelope to see what more they can get, whether it be a lobbyist, a board member or agency head, or a member of the Legislature.
No. It’s all about money, contracts, lobbyists, and money. Players will just be more careful to avoid an obvious quid pro quo. In Cook County, even the judiciary is tainted with cronyism, patronage, and political dependency. Power brokers like it that way. And most voters are pretty clueless.
I voted no. I think Anonymous @9:01 is dead on. Most corruption happens under the radar, in examples like he notes. It’s corruption, but not necessarily jail-time corruption. I think over time a progression develops: “I did this act, and that was ok. I went a bit further and, again, nothing bad happened. Now I can go a bit further, and a bit further,” etc. Going in with guns blazing like Blago did is rare. I think it’s usually a series of seemingly harmless steps that build up over time into something larger. I think that’s why when someone does go down for the big one, they almost always seem incredulous: “What, me?! I didn’t do anything wrong!” Their actions built up slowly and they lost sight of what they were actually doing. They didn’t start out wanting to line their pockets; it just grew into that over time. For that reason, I don’t think this will be a deterrent. No one becomes a full-blown crack addict the first time they try it. They slowly progress into it. And no one thinks they will become a crack addict.
I went with no. Pretty much for the same reason you won’t stop speeding.
The people who are going to do this know the law cannot be every where and are willing to risk it.
Rod and his crew were highly inept but probably thought they were following established practice.
I posted before about a former Mayor of Terre Haute IN making it into the pages of Time. That was over a little dust up between him and the Sheriff over shutting down some local Cat Houses. I think the Mayor was quoted as saying ” Even if Jesus Christ were elected Mayor of Terre Haute he could not clean up the City”.
I suspect some feel that way about our fair State.
I don’t really think voters are clueless. They don’t have much of a choice really. I can’t remember an election where I was forced to vote for the lessor of two evils. I can’t think of one politician or candidate whose primary motivation isn’t to get elected and then re-elected. They all play the angles. They all need a lot of money to play. It has gotten to the point where anyone motivated to run for public office probably shouldn’t be elected. Most citizens have given up. That’s why you have 30% turnouts.
I voted yes but of course there are degrees to everything. Wordslinger summed it up pretty well. And its hard to argue with Anon @ 9:01. But I dont think the question is “will this fix the system” which is what Anon points mainly are about.
Are a wink and a nod after the fact just as bad as flat out demanding a contribution? Maybe but I dont neccesarily think that is so. Politicians need money to run so your best chance is to ask those that have the same views. That arguement is a whole other discussion.
The main reason I voted yes is because I know I have already changed how and when I talk politics vs legislation. I use to easily mix the two together, especially amoung politicians that were friends. Never quid pro quo but just taking advantage speaking freely with friends. Not anymore. I wouldnt even talk to my mother about fundraising if she ever decided to run for dog catcher and I needed a license for my pet.
It will never deter everyone but the culture has changed and will continue to change and I think Blagojevich’s sentence sends that message.
No. With all crimes, criminals don’t think that they will get caught, hence they commit the crime. I believe that is especially true in this scenario, where the person probably believes just about everybody is doing it and only a few are caught, they believe they won’t get caught and thus is not a deterrent. However, this is probably what goes on in their mind to convince themselves that its ok to do whatever it is. At best, it will give some people pause to run for higher office, but someone will always want to be Governor…
No - the map redistricting keeps power in the hands of the few enabling corruption. A proper competitive (democratic) system in this state would do well for accountability. You can’t just say “vote them out of office.” Those in power care only about keeping their power. And that is not changing anytime soon.
No change……Anonymous has the right take on it. Rob was just careless.
Most of what really costs taxpayers isn’t illegal corruption, but legal corruption. Look at the workers comp cases in Southern Illinois. How did that happen? Isn’t anybody at the top paying attention to details? Another problem is special interest groups placing “their people” in positions of state management. Illinois loses more from willful incompetence than we ever lose from actual illegal corruption. When you work for the government you are a public servant. However, most public employees don’t see it that way. Especially many top managers
Yes, but only to a certain extent. Fewer good people in government (and yes, they exist) will turn to the dark side.
- Way Way Down Here - Thursday, Dec 8, 11 @ 10:17 am:
No. Rod is a punk who desperately wanted the respect of the smart money and to play with the big guys. Was never going to happen and he was beginning to see that—hence the insane envy.
But as others (Bill) have pointed out, the Cellini and Vrdolyak verdicts may indeed cool things off for while. Those things were never supposed to happen. But in the end there are always smart players.
The problem is the word deter. Will it deter corruption, yes. How much will it deter corruption, not a whole lot.
- Got the t-shirt... - Thursday, Dec 8, 11 @ 10:29 am:
The level of corruption is so systemic that there isn’t enough space in the penitentiaries to hold all of Blago’s henchmen and henchwomen. And for all those Republicans that sucked up to Blago to keep their jobs, shame on you!
Friend has a most valid point, the system is so rigged to keep incumbents right where they are, that the electorate really doesn’t have much of a chance to elect folks to govern with the public’s interests first and foremost…also, I am ready for term limits in IL and nation wide…please don’t tell me that an election is a term limiting event, when it is quite obvious that they are not any such thing…c’mon…
First of all, all one has to do is go back to that meeting before RB was even elected governor when he, Monk, Rezko, and Kelly, planned to cash in on the governorship after he was elected. This clearly demonstrates premeditation. This was not a situation where power or subordinates cajoled him into stepping over the line occasionally. They planned to build up as much cash as they could and split it after he left office. All of the people who are feeling sorry for him are drinking the kool aid he has been handing out. He is a master of manipulation and has not stopped trying to manipulate everyone in this case. Everything after that meeting is further corroboration of the intent of that meeting.
As Sam Adams Jr. said this morning, nothing will change until there is a complete seaparation of contract awarding and campaign donations. As long as serious reform is put off we will always have corruption. And it can’t be token mouth service to reform. Is has to be real reform. It is really ironic that the individual who put in place the current ethics policy and ethics training and testing for every employee of the State of Illinois has received the longest prison sentence for corruption in recent state history.
I’m afraid you may be right. However, can we look at other states and see the same level of corruption that exists here? Are all the other states as mired in the muck as Illinois? Can we learn from them how to prevent/lessen/remove the stain?
It is easy for me to be cynical. I don’t like that.
State incarceration might help and would be so appropriated:
elected by their peers
judged by their peers
punished with their peers
- Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Dec 8, 11 @ 10:55 am:
@Citizen John - thanks for the hat tip.
I’ll confess that the choice between Quinn and Hynes was not an easy one for me. Both are impeccable public servants. Hynes clearly faired better on the “Getting things done” Meter. But in the end it was pretty tough for him to make the argument that he was “a clean break for the past.”
Voters elected Pat Quinn because he was a Political Outsider. Such a political outsider that his own party worked tirelessly to defeat him not once but twice in the primary.
Think about that: Scott Lee Cohen skated through the Lt Gov primary, but Quinn was such an anathema that he was opposed in 98 and 02.
Now, it just may be the case that in the current landscape, its impossible for someone to be an honest outsider AND an effective Governor, atleast within the legislative process. And the voters may not yet be ready for an Honest Insider like Lisa Madigan. After all, they werent ready for Topinka in 2006 or Kirk Dillard or Dan Hynes in 2010.
But its also true that the tectonic plates of the Illinois political landscape are shifting. Most of those changes are gradual, like the earth’s crust…but just like the earth’s crust the force of those gradual changes build up over time until they release themselves violently.
We are going through one of those periods of violent realignment right now. How it will end is hard to say. Based on polling, I’d say that Independent voters are about to spew up like magma all over the political process, while a more gradual ascent of anti-establishment voters will rise up within both parties. These are national trends fortold by the nomination of Obama, the rise of Ron Paul, as well as local trends in the nomination and election of Pat Quinn and Toni Preckwinkle.
No– cost vs. benefit analysis. There is too much money to be had if you’re successful vs. time in a cozy federal camp, followed by being a paid consultant on the the cable and network TV programs and/or book writitng tours. Maybe I’d change the answer to yes if the time being served was at Stateville.
- Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Dec 8, 11 @ 11:05 am:
A GOP lawmaker once said to me: “We already have term limits. They’re called elections.”
“Not as long as you guys keep nominating people like Topinka” I replied.
He agreed with me 100%.
BTW: to all those wringing their hands about Rod’s “excessive” sentence, a little perspective. He’ll serve less than 30 seconds for each of his 13 million victims.
Meant to finish my post by saying: The smart ones will 9 times out of 10 get away with it.
- Louis G. Atsaves - Thursday, Dec 8, 11 @ 11:15 am:
I voted no. Everyone will just get more clever about it and do more to cover their tracks. Blagojevich and his gang were sloppy about it. Sounds like the Godfather movie, doesn’t it?
Blaming the voter for all this is wrong. The political establishment of both parties is to blame. The establishment backs Blagojevich type of candidates over good candidates so they can keep their access intact. The establishment gerrymanders districts to prevent truly competitive races. The best and the brightest get fed up and quit, or dissuade themselves from running for office. Candidates up and down the ladder have to raise obscene amounts of money to run for office. The temptations are too great. Can anyone blame the voter for tuning out? Blagojevich first ran as a “reformer” in case everyone forgot.
When Blagojevich ran for reelection, the political establishment was well aware of his behavior, problems and activities. They backed him anyway. Today it is hard to find someone in Illinois who will admit that they campaigned for him, endorsed him, donated money to him, voted for him. Go back a few years to George Ryan and the same behavior by the same political establishment existed.
Both parties are to blame for the current state of corruption in Illinois. Those of us working within both parties need to step up and demand a cleaner, more ethical and more responsive government.
Anon at 9:01, the “legal corruption(s)” that you describe are ethical violations.
I vote no. Our system of justice has been hanging murders and cattle thieves for hundreds of years, but crime goes on. If hanging is ineffective to deter crime; why should fourteen years in the slammer be a deterrent?
A more productive theory of deterrence is the “broken window theory”: that by aggressive prosecution of small offenses, petty crime and low-level anti-social behavior will be deterred and that major crime will, as a result, be prevented.
In Illinois, all units of local government have been required to enact governmental ethics ordinances. But – remarkably – the GA declined to require that those same towns, villages, counties, and school districts enact ordinances for enforcement of and penalties for breach of those ethics. So they are not enforced.
Because there is toleration of small offenses, petty crime and low-level graft, corrupt office holders and corrupt government employees are undeterred. Those who succeed to higher office move on to more egregious corruption and more serious crime.
The solution is to vigorously enforce ethical breaches at all levels of government. Something 102 Illinois State’s Attorneys don’t want to do.
–A more productive theory of deterrence is the “broken window theory”: that by aggressive prosecution of small offenses, petty crime and low-level anti-social behavior will be deterred and that major crime will, as a result, be prevented.–
The courts are filled with cases everyday. Besides, that theory was applied first in New York to street crime, not public corruption cases involving governors.
==Today it is hard to find someone in Illinois who will admit that they campaigned for him, endorsed him, donated money to him, voted for him.==
It is not that hard at all. A lot of us up here did some or all of those things. Aside from not being the brightest bulb in the chandelier, Rod wasn’t any more corrupt than any other Governor in the last 40 years.
- Dan Shields, Springfield, IL - Thursday, Dec 8, 11 @ 11:28 am:
Not until we the voters stop going to the polls and blindly cast our votes. We need to elect “Public Servants” not just politicians. Until we vote out these theives it will continue I don’t care what party they represent
There will always be someone who thinks they are smart enough to game the system. They will start small and piece by piece go after bigger chunks as they get more ’success’. They have existed in every government that has existed and they will be there in the 2100’s. The option of money, power, influence, and personal benefit is too much to pass by. Prison or worse is just an after thought because they see themselves as untouchable or it is simply part of the price they may have to pay down the road.
Changing a culture means much more than negative consequences for those who are caught breaking rules. Positive reinforcement for being focused on public service, and not on personal (or associates’)gain is required. We must look for candidates who have specific plans and abilities to fight corruption, not just complain about it. Most politicians I know are honest, and try to serve their constituents, but not especially competent in improving government.
Until we change the processes, incentives, and power relationships in Illinois politics and government, backed up with leadership clarity on shared goals, we will not progress. Focusing on specific individuals, without restructuring their roles and operating rules, has little effect. Focusing only on “getting money out of politics” is naive in the extreme.
- Six Degrees of Separation - Thursday, Dec 8, 11 @ 11:32 am:
Nearly anyone who would consider doing something illegal thinks they’re smarter than this doofus.
Now, Cellini’s conviction might have more impact, b/c he was considered one of the “smart” ones.
As long there is the possibility of someone handing you $$$ to change your mind on an issue. Corruption will always be present…
Consider this. If you are elected to office by say 15,000 voters and they ask you to pass Bill A and you think yeah sure no problem. Then an opposing faction comes to you and says, if you change your vote, I’ll give you this… If you change that vote you just nullified all 15,000 voters “request”…
This shows the need of term limits. That way no one can get “comfortable” in their position. You help with the issues at hand then you’ve done your duty to your constituents.
Now these politicians are looking to help themselves…(Hence our beloved governor before Mr. Quinn, see??). I know that all of the politicians are helping themselves. Most do cater to their constituents.
But for a deterrence, this may help some people who may be “thinking” about doing something but would change their minds on “whoa…14 years!!”.
Back to the point. Corruption is as present as air to breathe. This would be very difficult to regulate because people are often clever to find “loopholes”. For example, the contributions by corporations to campaigns. As long as someone can use something to further their pockets or interests, the following statement is true:
“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” - John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton (1834–1902)
It will have the same effect other law breakers who are caught and punished have on society. For instance, we have strong laws against drunk driving and stiff penalties for those who are convicted, but human nature is to assume “I won’t get caught.”
- Retired Non-Union Guy - Thursday, Dec 8, 11 @ 12:06 pm:
Rarely do the general election voters get choices between good people; most of the time the choice is between bad and less bad. That is the result of a combination of party interests, a closed primary system, and a limited number of primary voters.
None of the political parties in Illinois are going to change because their first interest is retaining whatever power they hold and, secondly, expanding that power.
An open primary just might offer a small ray of hope for change … maybe, just maybe, a non-party endorsed candidate (a true outsider) might slip through. But even then the system could be gamed.
Until this State elects another Richard Ogilvie or Paul Simon (the last two major & honest Illinois politicians I can think of), nothing is going to change …
No not without term limits, just way to much money
floating around Springfield and Chicago. We need
appointed judges less governments all kinds of stuff. To many people like the staus quo. The lobbyist and trial lawyers to powerful. The people
seem to be a after thought to politicans. Once elected they hardly ever lose.
- one day at a time - Thursday, Dec 8, 11 @ 12:19 pm:
Greed, favors and campaign ca$h keep the door to corruption open. We keep electing idiots who will walk through that door, if they are not already on the other side.
- Bored with it all - Thursday, Dec 8, 11 @ 12:33 pm:
No. Illinois has been corrupt long before Blago was governor and will remain corrupt long after. Take the power out of government and the money will follow.
Campaign finance reform tackles the problem on the surface but does nothing at getting at the core of the problem. You can monitor, track and limit the amount of money that is reported, but you can never stop the “favors”. The problem is way too much power. We need a reset button.
- Kevin Highland - Thursday, Dec 8, 11 @ 12:34 pm:
All the criminals think they are too smart to be caught.
–A separate State of Chicago could be subjected to aggressive Federal oversight to limit the naturally corrupt nature of that society….to a limited degree.–
LMAO. Too funny. “aggressive federal oversight… to a limited degree…” “naturally corrupt nature of that society…”
As a sociologist and phenologist, how would you characterize the natural qualities of a the “society” outside Chicago that produced leaders such as Paul Powell, Ken Gray, Len Small, Orville Hodge, Bill Scott, Bill Cellini, George Ryan and on and on and on.
Blame the alleged monoliths of Chicago or Cook County for all your problems, and you never have to take responsibility for improving anything.
- Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Dec 8, 11 @ 1:12 pm:
Cal - I’ve found that the vast majority of people from both sides of the aisle run for public office not for power, prestige or money, but because they believe in public service.
Lets be honest, theres not much power, prestige or money in being a state legislator.
So, I see that there are some states that are demonstrably better than Illinois - directed by a better moral compass, perhaps. What do those states do that is different than Illinois (Mr Skinner indicates Nebraska w/its’ unicameral legislature and 8 yr term limits)? Too bad we have to go thru the GA and the GOV to put into place those very things that would tend to diminish their power. Any suggestions sports fans?
Illinois’ government isn’t very corrupt. Most contracts are awarded quite properly. Most legislation is passed mainly on its merits. Most hires are done by the book, etc. etc.
There are exceptions; always have been, always will be. The overall tone is set at the top, but the day-to-day workings are pretty institutionalized.
Most “corruption” is pretty penny-ante; drivers licenses for sale, cheating on program eligibility, taking a gratuity for a good parking spot. Not many people get bribed nor extorted, not many fortunes are made thru corruption.
–Richard Ogilvie was a superb governor, but his top aide as sheriff was alleged to be an Outfit guy.–
I have no reason to question Ogilvie’s honesty. He fired Richard Cain after being tipped by the FBI.
Alleged nothing. Richard Cain was an Outfit member and a whole lot more. Sam Giancana’s right-hand man, FBI informant, cop, burglar, top sheriff’s investigator, murderer, Jack Mabley’s top source, electronics and bugging expert, on the security detail for Barry Goldwater in 1964…
All the stuff above is documented. But in Conspiracy Theory Land, he’s also prominent in Dallas 1963, attempts on Castro, Bay of Pigs, CIA and on and on and on.
He suffered two separated shoulders — as in his shoulders were separated from his head via shotgun blasts — in broad daylight at Rose’s Sandwich Shop on Grand Avenue in 1973.
Sinister, but fascinating, character.
- Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Dec 8, 11 @ 3:06 pm:
@Cal - LOL.
Nebraska’s relatively untainted because there’s nothing worth stealing.
Why do bank robbers rob banks? Because that is where the money is.
No. They think that they are just trading deals. In my opinion, Thompson and Edgar did similar deals. It was a you scratch my back, I’ll scratch your’s mentality. I mean, I can remember many favors being given and then repaid. It still goes on, I imagine.
- from the sidelines - Thursday, Dec 8, 11 @ 8:13 pm:
No. Nothings changed in Illinois politics in my lifetime. Can I get college credits for reading this? I learn much more polysci here than I ever did in college. Does Blago subscribe? Do incarcerated governors get free subscriptions to Capfax?
- Just The Way It Is One - Thursday, Dec 8, 11 @ 9:48 pm:
Yes. 14 years was a STIFF, chilling sentence that most definitely sent a message. One would be a fool to be corrupt in the same or similar way in the future, knowing what they could be facing. Beware!