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Levine opinions

Monday, Oct 30, 2006

My syndicated newspaper column is about… what else?… the Levine plea.

Corrupt political insider Stu Levine was hit with so many federal indictments earlier this year that he literally was facing a life sentence behind bars.

Last week, he copped a plea that will let him walk free after five years and seven months in what probably will be a minimum security prison — in exchange for his cooperation.

We can discern one of two things from this: 1) Much of the federal case was weak and letting Levine off relatively easy was a face-saving move by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald; or 2) Levine has agreed to help the feds reel in some very big fish and used that prospect to negotiate a much better deal.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I find myself leaning toward “Door Number 2.”

* Mark Brown:

There was no hint of an apology, nor any expression of embarrassment nor regret for even unwittingly keeping Levine in a position of trust. There was no acceptance of responsibility whatsoever, not even the indirect sort. He didn’t even do that thing Mayor Daley does where he acts like he’s angry about somebody letting him down.

* Carol Marin:

It is hard to feel sorry for Levine. Harder still to have sympathy for one of his dearest friends, Edward “Fast Eddie” Vrdolyak. But one of the twists of this case that had to be wrenching for Levine is that in trying to save himself from a lifetime behind bars, he apparently had to wire up on and sell out someone he truly cared about. And so he secretly recorded conversations that would give the FBI and the U.S. attorney’s office the chance to do what they have dreamed of doing for decades: build a case against the Dark Lord of the 10th Ward.

Vrdolyak, a former alderman who once ran for Chicago mayor, is a millionaire many times over, thanks to the taxpayers of Cicero and other hapless municipalities that paid him seven figures annually for his “advice and counsel.” One of his ill-fated advisees, former Cicero Town President Betty Loren Maltese, sits in federal prison now after being convicted of corruption.

Though he has been investigated a dozen times, the catlike Vrdolyak has easily had nine lives. Until now.

* And the Tribune has seven questions:

- Who are the “certain State of Illinois officials” with whom Rezko allegedly had clout to influence appointments to state boards?

In the early Blagojevich years, who in the governor’s office–other than the governor himself, of course–had the authority to suggest formal appointments to state boards whose decisions had huge financial impacts?

- Did any staff member ever express concern to Blagojevich that Rezko was exerting influence over his appointment process?

- Who, if the indictment is correct, preserved a scheme to steer decisions on teacher pension system investments by derailing a proposed consolidation of that fund with two others?

- Was anyone in the governor’s office aware of the alleged plot to extort $1.5 million in political contributions from an investment firm?

- What does the Rezko indictment–and now the Levine plea agreement–say about your 2002 campaign pledge to end “business as usual” in Illinois if you became governor?

- And the seventh question: Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan says the governor’s office should make public any federal subpoenas issued to his administration–and stop withholding them from view. Illinois government belongs to the people, Governor. Why won’t you show them the subpoenas?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Blago Hastert - Monday, Oct 30, 06 @ 3:45 am:

    Since Blago admitted he heard rumors all was not right and he was even asking Rezko questions himself, the fact remains he did NOT refer the issues to be investigated by his much vaunted creation–the inspector general. Why were these allegations never referred for investigation? Was there something the Governor was trying to hide?

  2. - state worker #1 - Monday, Oct 30, 06 @ 5:53 am:

    Yes, there was/is something the Governor is trying to hiding and that is why he does not want to release the information concerning the FEDERAL subpoenas.

    release the subpoenas, ‘Govna’

    (follow your own ethics rules Governor, it looks like you are trying to hide something)

  3. - Bill - Monday, Oct 30, 06 @ 6:13 am:

    I pick door number one. The governor is an honest man, always tries to do things right, will not even be indicted,let alone tried and convicted(except maybe in the press).
    The governor is cooperating fully with the USAttorney and will not release any information to the public until he is cleared to do so by the federales. Madigan’s opinion is just that, an opinion, and as such is not law. If curious minds want to know, let them litigate and a judge will decide if the governor should release the documents. Since Governor Blagojevich always obeys the LAW he will most certainly release the documents if ordered to do so by a judge or cleared to do so by the USA.
    Out in the neighborhoods throughout this state people of right minds are planning to vote for Rod Blagojevich because he is the best choice to lead Illinois forward, to fight for working people, seniors,veterans, children, but also because they find Topinka obnoxious and little more than a bad joke. Some will vote for none of the above(Whitney)but most will stick with Rod. That is what is really happening and all the poison pen columns and vitriolic blog comments will have little effect.
    We the real people shall prevail!
    Eight more days …then …Four more years!!!!

  4. - Anon - Monday, Oct 30, 06 @ 6:14 am:

    Face it, the bomb you promised turned out to be a Friday firecracker. yawn…

  5. - Bill - Monday, Oct 30, 06 @ 6:20 am:

    It must be frustrating for all of the anti-rods to have their columns,broadcasts,predictions of dire things to come,blog comments, and advice ignored by the voters. They really like to think that what they write and say really matters and that they can sway public opinion. Not this time!

  6. - Disgusted - Monday, Oct 30, 06 @ 6:47 am:

    So the governor doesn’t break the law, huh Bill?
    What about the little flyer he mailed to “undocumented workers”? One of the staged questions was if undocumented workers apply for state services like All Kids, will they be reported to INS? The answer given in the flyer was NO. Now I thought it was a federal law that if a person knows of an undocumented worker in the U.S. who is working without papers and using state or federal services, he or she is required to report that undocumented worker. Am I mistaken?

    Also, the federal goverment has said that it is illegal to import drugs from Canada and other foreign countries and yet our governor is not only encouraging Illinoisans to do this but plans to offer it to state workers and retirees.

    Hummm, what’s the problem here, Bill.

  7. - Anon Again - Monday, Oct 30, 06 @ 6:52 am:

    At least can we get rid of Tim Martin now and his key two or three clowns. IDOT morale is the lowest in the history of roads. Please individual “B” take the clown with you the dept cant take much more get him a job with Levine or somebody. If martins ways were used by the feds these guys would get no defense could get convicted on an anonynous tattle tale hotline and be gulity prove your innocent it time for him to GOOOO

  8. - Bill - Monday, Oct 30, 06 @ 7:00 am:

    The governor will not let republican bureaucrats in DC dictate to the citizens of Illinois regarding our seniors health and well being. Those in DC who are beholding to drug lobbyists and special interest groups will not be allowed to force our seniors to choose between food and their prescriptions. Why should drugs manufactured by American companies, in American manufacturing plants cost so much less in Canada than in the USA? Maybe Jack Abrahamoff can answer that question but here in Illinois we care about our citizens not special interests.
    Our courageous governor will do anything in his power to make sure that our seniors can buy safe, regulated prescriptions from Canada at greatly reduced prices.
    As far as immigration is concerned, I bet there are enough of “them” to fill Soldier Field! While “they” are here should we let them die for lack of medical treatment? I’d check the law again if I were you on who has to rat out undocumented residents. In the meantime, try to have a little more compassion and a little less greed.

  9. - Walking Wounded - Monday, Oct 30, 06 @ 8:56 am:

    If it were illegal for Blagojevich to release copies of the subpoenaes, then the Attorney General certainly would not be asking for them. Blagojevich has been running this state the way he sees fit and not necessarily by law or even with the cooperation of the Legislature. Anyone who watches this governor parry with the Feds and Attorney General has got to ask themselves, “What is he hiding?” Also, no matter how anybody tries to sugarcoat it or explain it away, importing drugs from out of the country is still against the law.

  10. - zatoichi - Monday, Oct 30, 06 @ 9:07 am:

    If someone has a project big enough to warrant a $1.5M shakedown, wouldn’t they also have the connections to find out where those bucks are going and who has the final say so?

  11. - Peachy - Monday, Oct 30, 06 @ 9:11 am:

    When is Jim Edgar going to apologize to the people of Illinois for first bringing this Levine guy into state government and giving him a glowing recommendation?

  12. - Squideshi - Monday, Oct 30, 06 @ 9:27 am:

    Bill wrote, “Our courageous governor will do anything in his power to make sure that our seniors can buy safe, regulated prescriptions from Canada at greatly reduced prices.”

    To put this another way, Blago will do ANYTHING to get what he wants, within his power or not, regardless of ethics or legality. First Bill says that Blago does not break the law, and now he suggests that it’s okay that Blago is breaking the law, as long as its done for the right reasons.

    Who gets to determine when it’s okay to break the law Bill? Blagojevich? You?

    Bill also wrote, “Since Governor Blagojevich always obeys the LAW he will most certainly release the documents if ordered to do so by a judge or cleared to do so by the USA.”

    In order words, Blago will NOT release the documents unless he is ORDERED to do so. That just supports the idea that Blago is trying to conceal information from the voting public.

    Bill further wrote, “That is what is really happening and all the poison pen columns and vitriolic blog comments will have little effect.”

    Here is an example of Bill ignoring the public opinion polls. It has been shown that a plurality of voters think that Blago knew about Rezko’s alleged corrpution, despite Blago’s claim to the contrary. It’s not a question of if people think that Blago is dishonest but rather, if people are willing to vote for a dishonest candidate.

  13. - Bill - Monday, Oct 30, 06 @ 9:52 am:

    The way you take things out of context and put your own spin on them is quite impressive. You must work
    (as a volunteer obviously) for Rich Whitney. The only poll I care about is the one on election day, but since you brought it up, Rod is up nine points.

  14. - Bubs - Monday, Oct 30, 06 @ 9:53 am:

    Rezko’s indictment is the weathervane that points “Door No. 2.” Does anyone really think that Fitzgerald is dumb enough to indict the Governor’s top fundraiser on 24 counts, in October before the election, if he had less than an airtight case?

    The only outstanding questions for me are the status of Mr. Kelly, and whether they can bag the Governor. It strikes me as another Sorich/Daley - everyone thinks the top man knew all about it, but that can’t be proven in court until a close aide rolls over. Ah, me, where is “Sammy the Bull” Gravano when we need him?

    BTW, anyone who thinks that Hired Truck has ended had better check their batteries. It is heating up after a post-Sorich breather. More To Come.

  15. - One_Mcmad - Monday, Oct 30, 06 @ 10:26 am:

    I have some answers for the Tribune.

    Bradley Tusk and

    …….she’s disqualified.

  16. - Citizen A - Monday, Oct 30, 06 @ 10:34 am:

    Bill is becoming so valuable to RB with his blind faith that he just may be the next guy RB throws under the bus to divert attention from himself. Be very careful Bill, I for one would sure miss ya.

  17. - Little Egypt - Monday, Oct 30, 06 @ 11:10 am:

    Bill, you’ve done it. You’ve made a believer out of me. I thought all of your rhetoric about Blago was just campaign crap but I am now convinced that Elvis is above reproach, is the most honest governor we have had to date (in spite of all of the subpoenas), raises campaign money in the most honest and ethical way possible, never sells jobs, would not think of gutting IDOT of its professional employees (in spite of what career employees there say), is always thinking of our senior citizens’ best interests by asking them to break Federal law and buy their drugs from Canada, will open up many more veterans health care centers because he appreciates the efforts they have made toward keeping the US a free country, and I could go on and on with his wonderful accomplishments. Yep, Elvis is, in fact, St. Rodney, the savior of the state, the guru with guts, the cukoo with coconuts, the mutant with money, the genius of government, the ponzi of…..oh we ALL like him. We REALLY like him.

  18. - Eye in the sky - Monday, Oct 30, 06 @ 11:26 am:

    I am truly disgusted with the Illinois political process. It seems that the dirtiest and most corrupt always wins in this state, what is with that?? Does anybody anybody else feel like taking a shower after voting? I am making a pledge from this day forward; the name that I hear least is going to be the candidate that I vote for regardless of party.

  19. - Squideshi - Monday, Oct 30, 06 @ 11:34 am:

    In answer to Bill’s statement, yes I am a volunteer for the Whitney campaign, as are many others throughout the state (I never thought that I was hiding the fact that I strongly support Rich Whitney.)

    The difference between Bill and I is that I will honestly admit who I am working for this year; but regardless, it seems to me that everyone already knows who’s “payroll” Bill might be on, whether he admits it or not.

    Also, note that Bill didn’t actually refute anything I said or answer any of my questions. It’s easy to say that things are being taken out of context when you aren’t forced to explain HOW. That type of strategy is nearly “Blagoesque.”

  20. - Captain America - Monday, Oct 30, 06 @ 12:06 pm:

    In general,it’s a sad state of affairs. But it still appears to me that the alleged Republican “crooks” outnumber the alleged Democratic “crooks”, particularly when you’re talking in terms of state “power brokers”.

    The problem is bipartisan corruption at all levels of government in both the legislative and executive branches. Furthermore, the corrupters in the business community are equally guilty. Nothing,or at least not much, has been on the square In Illnois, Chicago, or Cook County government during our lifetimes.

    I see no reason for voters to decide to transfer power back to a party that governed the State of Illinois with an apparently high level of corruption between 1976 and 2002, particularly given that Republicans are considerably more conservative then the Illinois electorate.Why support Illinois Republicans in 2006 given their incredibly dismal/disasterous performance at the national level.

    At this point the rumors and innuendos about the governor’s involvement in these various and sundry corrupt schemes are pure speculation- there are no specific legal allegations.The governor is entitled to a presumption of innocence until proven guilty. If he is indicted at some point in the future, then he should resign and turn the office over to Pat Quinn, who in my opinion is better qualified than JBT.

    I’m counting on Fitzgerald to sort it out,one way or another. Let the chips fall where they may. I for one think that Fitzgerald and his associates are doing a good job. I think the only way to reform politics in Illinois once and for all is to hound the political schemers and charlatans, whoever they are, out of office and into jail. Maybe our elected officials and “wannabees” will finally get the message!

    Personally,I have confidence in the ethics of the next generation of aspirants for higher level offices - people like Dan Hynes,Lisa Madigan,Barack Obama, and Jesse Jackson Jr.I assume there are some equally promising Republican leaders too.

    Paddy Bauler take note. We’re almost ready for reform!

  21. - steve schnorf - Monday, Oct 30, 06 @ 12:06 pm:

    Because we elect them.

  22. - Little Egypt - Monday, Oct 30, 06 @ 12:14 pm:

    Captain America, you can’t keep score by placing Repub and Dem political operatives into a political party. They are neither Repubs or Dems. They are HOGS. They are Apolitical (if there is such a thing). They play both sides of the fence. That’s why you saw Cellini and Levine belly up to the Dem bar. They still wanted to be a part of the action; i.e. MONEY. And either Blago didn’t have the political maturity to see it coming or he sold his soul to them for the sake of his campaign war chest.

  23. - BigBob - Monday, Oct 30, 06 @ 1:27 pm:

    Doesn’t Levine have a 2nd court date in a few days to enter a 2nd guilty plea? Why do I not hear anything on this anymore? Was it combined into the plea last week?

  24. - Anonymous - Monday, Oct 30, 06 @ 2:20 pm:

    Rezko is also due in court in a couple of days. It will be interesting to see if he changes his plea. The Feds seem to think he will plead guilty and rollover after he is shown the mountains of evidence against him. Verrrrry interesting.

  25. - One_Mcmad - Monday, Oct 30, 06 @ 2:25 pm:


    Bill are you William Quinlan, Chief Counsel for Governor Rod Blagojevich?

  26. - Cassandra - Monday, Oct 30, 06 @ 2:27 pm:

    Could Bill be a secret JBT plant?

    His posts do have a feel of trying to outrage
    those who are less fond of Blago.

  27. - One_Mcmad - Monday, Oct 30, 06 @ 2:44 pm:

    The disqualification of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan!

  28. - Tessa - Monday, Oct 30, 06 @ 2:50 pm:

    I also choose door #2. At some point in time, Blago may just have to answer the Attorney General of this state about those subpoenas. If he had nothing to hide, he would have answered already.

    I he has/had done nothing wrong, the Federal investigations would have ended already, but they continue.

    What I read in that 58 pages last week didn’t appear to be a weak case against Levine. I’m sure what we didn’t see would have led to a much harsher sentence. Weighing his options, Levine probably sang like a little bird and five years seven months suddenly sounded like a walk in the park.

  29. - Little Egypt - Monday, Oct 30, 06 @ 3:14 pm:

    Surprise, surprise, there’s a Press Release Of The Day giving away yet another $1M.

  30. - Anon Again - Monday, Oct 30, 06 @ 6:53 pm:

    Teach me something all if the us attorney was cool on the Govs group giving up the subpoenas why doesnt he just give them out himself

  31. - firstimer - Monday, Oct 30, 06 @ 7:36 pm:

    “Absolute faith corrupts as absolutely as absolute power.”

    Eric Hoffer

  32. - So Blue Democrat - Monday, Oct 30, 06 @ 8:14 pm:


    If the voters of Illinois love the Governor so much, why is his disapproval rating at 57%. Yes, Judy’s are about the same. I think it is time for a true indpendent party in Illinois.

  33. - Buck Flagojevich - Monday, Oct 30, 06 @ 10:04 pm:

    Door #2.

    What does it say when EVERYBODY around you is being investigated or indicted? Now your wife is looking a wee bit unethical. The excuses for her actions are not even close to believable. Yikes!

    You know how big of a chuckle head you look like Rod? You look and act like you have dodged the bullet because Levine didn’t name you in his plea.

    Keep puffing that chest of yours. It just makes you look like a bigger dope than your are. And that is hard even for you to do.

  34. - Angie - Monday, Oct 30, 06 @ 11:50 pm:

    Heard an old Deep Purple tune on the radio earlier today. Came up with new lyrics for it.

    Hush, hush

    I think I hear Fitz callin’ my name now

    Hush, hush

    I keep playing dumb, but he’s callin’ just the same now

    Hush hush

    Good tune.: )

  35. - formula 1 - Tuesday, Mar 20, 07 @ 12:13 am:

    Chi ha fatto questo? E un buon posto per trovare le informazioni importanti!:)

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