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* Sun-Times, Friday morning, Rich Miller: “Once again, Blagojevich proves why he can’t be trusted”

I had heard from numerous sources, including Deputy House Majority Leader Gary Hannig, that the governor announced during a legislative leaders meeting that Rep. John D’Amico (D-Chicago) was the state representative who feared losing his city job [if he voted for the capital bill].

* Later that day

Gov. Rod Blagojevich Friday found a new person to blame for the legislature’s failure to approve a public works construction program and what he believes is an effort to raise income taxes.

Rep. Gary Hannig, D-Litchfield. [Emphasis added]

Did the governor single out Rep. Hannig for harsh criticism on Friday because he spoke to me on the record? Good question.

* Now, for the meat of this post we must go back to the Sun-Times column

[Gov. Blagojevich said] “They fear their leader, Mr. Madigan, and if Mike Madigan tells them to vote a certain way, they will tell you privately, and I’ve had these discussions with a couple of state reps, one of whom said, ‘I’m afraid if I vote for the jobs bill I’ll be fired from my job at Streets and Sanitations [sic]. I’m afraid I’ll lose my job.’ ” […]

D’Amico said he told the governor that he has been in the union for 26 years and there’s no way he could be fired over a legislative issue unless they first canned a whole bunch of people with less seniority to get at him. Rep. D’Amico said he told the governor he opposed the capital plan because Mayor Daley was against it. D’Amico told me he informed the governor that he didn’t fear losing his job over the capital bill. […]

A source close to [Congressman Rahm Emanuel] confirmed everything D’Amico said.

* Later that day

Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Friday blamed 10 “double dipping” Chicago lawmakers for “killing” his statewide construction plan, two days after he called on Mayor Richard Daley to pressure them into reversing their positions. […]

“We’ve just got to keep pushing those Chicago Democrats who have city jobs, who work for the Cook County government in Chicago to . . . stop killing jobs,” Blagojevich said while opening the Illinois State Fair.

It’s fascinating how those Chicago legislators were so easily and instantly transformed in Blagojevich’s mind from pitiful victims of Madigan’s power to obstructionist bad guys.

* It’s also instructive that Blagojevich now wants Mayor Daley to put pressure on these 10 legislators to switch their positions. How would Daley do that? By threatening their jobs?

“In a democracy, we don’t usually use the political bosses to make you do something. That is the old way of doing things.” [said Rep. Monique Davis, who retired from her public job a few years ago, but is still on the governor’s list of obstructionists]

That was a very good pivot by Rep. Davis.

The governor has now done an Olympics-level flip-flop. Blagojevich falsely accused Madigan of threatening legislators with the loss of their city jobs, then called on Daley to do essentially the same thing.

* From comments on Friday’s blog post of my column…

Bill - Friday, Aug 8, 08 @ 8:54 am:

The mayor or speaker is not going to get someone fired because of the way they vote. Only Rod does that. […]

Pot calling kettle - Friday, Aug 8 @ 9:59 pm:

I’m surprised no one picked up Bill’s point.

The Governor thinks this is so, because it is what he would (and does) do. He routinely threatens and fires the friends and relatives of those legislators & staffers who do not do as he likes.


* Ironically enough, that long list of Blagojevich’s retaliatory firings includes the wife of Speaker Madigan’s chief of staff, Rep. D’Amico’s uncle and Rep. Hannig’s brother. On Friday, the governor’s list of obstructionist Chicago Democrats also included Rep. Eddie Acevedo, who has been on unpaid leave from the police department since last year. Keep that in mind while reading this column from last October…

In a move that has probably fatally poisoned an already supertoxic Illinois Statehouse atmosphere, the wife of House Speaker Michael Madigan’s chief of staff, Tim Mapes, was fired from her state job. […]

This isn’t the first time that Blagojevich and his chief of staff, John Harris, have gone after a House Democrat’s relative. They fired the uncle of Rep. John D’Amico from his state job after D’Amico strayed from the Blagojevich playbook. The brother of the House Democrats’ “budgeteer,” Rep. Gary Hannig, was let go after his contract expired. Rep. Eddie Acevedo’s brother was dismissed and the brother of Rep. Careen Gordon was recently demoted.

Kinda takes your breath away, don’t it?

* Back to the Sun-Times column

Do you understand a bit better now why it’s so darned difficult to deal with this governor?

When you hear people like Mayor Daley say that there’s a “trust issue” with Blagojevich, it’s because nothing he says can be believed — not even his favorite story about how Mike Madigan’s members fear losing their city jobs.

* The final word goes to Rep. Susana Mendoza, who tried hard to work with the governor and was considered a somewhat “Blagojevich friendly” legislator until early 2007, when she was manhandled by the governor’s top staff…

“It is an obvious example that the governor is a pathological liar.”

posted by Rich Miller
Monday, Aug 11, 08 @ 6:57 am


  1. Why do we allow state legislators to hold jobs in other government entities. Leaving aside the overeating at the public trough component, federal, state and local entities are closely linked in many ways and in our all blue Democratic Illinois, there are many potential and actual conflicts of interest, which the residents can’t even see.

    D’Amico may not have to worry personally, but colleagues may not feel as secure, especially
    those who don’t work in union jobs in the city or
    in other government offices.

    And when you live in a one-party state, potential and actual conflicts of interests, at the expense of the public good, are vastly magnified. And so it is in Illinois.

    Comment by Cassandra Monday, Aug 11, 08 @ 7:16 am

  2. ===Why do we allow state legislators to hold jobs in other government entities===

    Because this is a citizens legislature.

    ===D’Amico may not have to worry personally, but colleagues may not feel as secure===

    Maybe, maybe not. You have proof?

    Comment by Rich Miller Monday, Aug 11, 08 @ 7:20 am

  3. Why did all their relatives have jobs in the first place?

    Only in Illinois…

    Comment by pro Monday, Aug 11, 08 @ 7:23 am

  4. Live by the sword, die by the sword. No one forced these elected officials to keep their government jobs while running for office. And I’m sure their relatives’ chances of landing plum state work wasn’t hurt by having an elected official in their corner. Blago is playing hardball, no doubt. But these elected officials put themselves in a vulnerable spot by having too many mouths feeding at the trough.

    Comment by phocion Monday, Aug 11, 08 @ 7:34 am

  5. From top to bottom this post shows why this state is the laughing stock of this country.

    I agree with pro, only in Illinois.

    Comment by Speaking At Will Monday, Aug 11, 08 @ 7:34 am

  6. ===Only in Illinois===

    Yeah, right. Sure. You don’t get out much, do you?

    And might I add that Rod Blagojevich was essentially a ghost payroller years ago? He got that job through family connections.

    You guys live in the thinnest of glass houses, and yet you’re always throwing bricks and playing the victim.

    Comment by Rich Miller Monday, Aug 11, 08 @ 7:36 am

  7. But actually, I believe they are not allowed to hold state of Illinois jobs, or at least in some agencies. So somebody has perceived a conflict of interest at that level.

    Comment by Cassandra Monday, Aug 11, 08 @ 7:40 am

  8. What are you complaining about? You got what you wanted “Rod” bought and paid for. This is just the norm for democrats.Just look at the national scene. Congress is broke and it is the power drunk dems doing it.

    Comment by The Conservative Monday, Aug 11, 08 @ 7:54 am

  9. Setting aside the blatant hypocrisy of accusing Madigan of threatening legislators with the loss of their city jobs, then calling on Daley to do just that, the overall strategy of firing people is just horrible strategy for the Gov.

    The Gov at some point in time knows, or should know, he will need the support of D’Amico and Hannig (and others) on various measures. They have family in Government. The gov had leverage over these folks based on the jobs held by their family. Once he fired them in a temper tantrum he lost all of his leverage. He also all but made sure they would never stand up and help them. In the basics of Game theory if you want to get something from somone you give to them first. Game theory is a model used to preict social behaviour and interactions. The Gov has pretty much engaged in every behaviour that game theory teaches us will result in total failure. The most simplistic example of this is refusing to give somthing unless you recieve somthing first in return. Further undermining the Gov system of you give to me first is the fact that the Gov then refuses to go through with his end of the argain. In short the Gov demands that his opponents give the Gov what he wants first before he will give them something; nd then when his opponents are so fooilis as to do just that, he refuses to give back when its his turn.

    The Gov is a model of anti-leadership and caustic dealings; he is the prime model of how not to conduct buisness or negotiations; his retalitory conduct against his opponents is almost self defeating but elminating any control or leverage he may have had. In short, the Gov is all stick and no carrott.

    Comment by Ghost Monday, Aug 11, 08 @ 8:28 am

  10. You can say a lot of negative things about the Governor, but he knows how to use the system we have created in Illinois to his advantage, and use it very well. Is he abusing his power? Maybe. But it will take court action to determine that, a determination that even at its swiftest will be a long time coming.

    Comment by Captain Flume Monday, Aug 11, 08 @ 8:30 am

  11. Poor little democrats begged for all their big state jobs when this Governor took office. You get hired by politics, you get fired by politics…

    We need Tom Cross in there to clean up this mess. Let them see how good they have it now…

    Comment by jj Monday, Aug 11, 08 @ 8:54 am

  12. ===But actually, I believe they are not allowed to hold state of Illinois jobs, or at least in some agencies. So somebody has perceived a conflict of interest at that level.===

    The legislators in question hold jobs with either the City of Chicago or Cook County. They are not employed by the state, except in their roles of citizen legislators.

    Comment by Fan of the Game Monday, Aug 11, 08 @ 9:06 am

  13. Capt Fax…you should bump this item to the top everyday just to remind all hands the threat Blagoof poses to IL

    Funniest comment early in the week (but I bet it stands up) is JJ’s suggest that StateWideTom Cross is needed to clean up IL…JJ must have been in a fog for the last few eons — StateWide Tom is Blagoog Gambling Buddy.

    Comment by 2ConfuseCrew Monday, Aug 11, 08 @ 9:29 am

  14. Illinois is not unique by any stretch of the imagination in the United States, or the world for that matter, when it comes to government patronage, whether pinstripe or old-school. It’s human nature to build and maintain power through rewards and punishment.

    It’s just that the governor is so bad at it. The ability to punish is powerful, but used rarely by the wise. Politics in the United States is always, always, the art of addition.

    JJ, I presume you work for Cross. Otherwise you have a serious crush.

    Comment by wordslinger Monday, Aug 11, 08 @ 9:42 am

  15. Fan-

    I know that. But it’s hard to believe that individuals employed by the city and serving in the legislature would be able to set aside fears about job security when voting. This potential conflict is enhanced in the current political situation, with a defunct Republican party and
    Democratics holding nearly all the political power. There is no opposing party to effectively raise the alarm should such pressures arise.

    Comment by Cassandra Monday, Aug 11, 08 @ 9:49 am

  16. How to win friends and influence people,the Mod Rod way. An incredible set of statements from Blago. Does he really think he can hurt D’Amico? Does he know any history of the Laurino family? At least they show up for their jobs nowadays.

    Comment by Phineas J. Whoopee Monday, Aug 11, 08 @ 10:25 am

  17. ===THis is a Citizen’s legislature==

    “Shirley, you jest.”

    No, Rich, it is a family affair, extending beyond the legislature to every entity State and local.

    The combined salaries put these into the upper one percent of the nation…and unless they screw up bad, it is a never ending pinata. Safe seats, machine jobs and from elected to staff to lobbyist.

    I guess there are not enough competent people in the state — other than relatives — to fill these jobs, many of which are truly ghost like.

    Family, as in Cosa Nostra, perhaps.

    Comment by Truthful James Monday, Aug 11, 08 @ 11:13 am

  18. It appears the Governor’s Chief of Staff, John Harris, is up to his old tricks. There isn’t a more conspiring, cold hearted hatchet man in Illinois government. Many of Blago’s more ruthless idiotic decisions have this guys stink all over them.

    All demogogic pols need their Roy Cohn and Blago could not have chosen better.

    Comment by Wisdom from the Park Monday, Aug 11, 08 @ 11:40 am

  19. So Cassandra, all public employees should lose their rights to participate in a citizens’ legislature? What next, they can’t have opinions on government at all? And what about their families?

    When the company that runs the company town is government, you’d be forcing an awful lot of people to remain silent or unemployed.

    Comment by Crafty Girl Monday, Aug 11, 08 @ 11:43 am

  20. I believe that there are already restrictions on state goverment employees with respect to political activities. I don’t know about the city of Chicago. If there are, probably nobody pays them any mind.

    We are not talking about large numbers of people here but we are talking about a significant potential conflict of interest. And I think it is naive to say that state employees may not participate in the “citizens” (ha) legislature but that city and other government employees who are elected to the legislature are sufficiently
    removed from the state political fray that their
    votes might not be affected.

    Comment by Cassandra Monday, Aug 11, 08 @ 1:53 pm

  21. Any profession has potential conflicts of interst. But I don’t see any call to say that doctors, vets, accountants, plumbers, used car salesmen, or insurance adjusters shouldn’t be allowed to serve in the legislature. But because I or my spouse works as a secretary or the dog catcher in Somewheresville, they shouldn’t be allowed to serve in the General Assembly? And in some areas, without a huge industrial or service base, the good jobs that allow you to support a family may just be the ones with a local government.

    Comment by Crafty Girl Monday, Aug 11, 08 @ 3:41 pm

  22. 1. Susana told it like it is.

    2. These phantom tales of “Madigan’s people losing their city jobs” is starting to sound like the “little black girl” who thinks Rod is Mayor Daley in Blago lore.

    3. “Tom Cross” and “clean up mess” are incongruent and do not belong in the same sentence.

    4. I can’t wait to see the love on Governor’s day, and can’t wait to see who even shows up on Republican day.

    Comment by Oh, Susana (Mendoza edition). Monday, Aug 11, 08 @ 6:32 pm

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