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The fallout continues *** Updated x4 ***

Monday, Dec 3, 2007

* My syndicated newspaper column hasn’t been posted online yet [they posted it sometime this morning - here it is], but, as with most columnists over the past few days, it delves into the governor’s decision to attend a Chicago Blackhawks game while the House voted down his mass transit funding bill…

The decision by Governor Rod Blagojevich to attend a Chicago Blackhawks game last Wednesday night instead of remaining at the Statehouse while the Illinois House defeated his mass transit funding bailout proposal says a lot about the governor on several different levels, none of it positive.

Blagojevich knew that Chicago TV station CBS-2 was planning to air a report that same night about how he is often a no-show at his state office. As the report confirmed, he prefers to hang around his house all day.

The station’s investigative report was pretty hard-hitting, but the governor’s attendance at that hockey game made it a blockbuster piece. The move served to boldly underscore the point that Blagojevich simply isn’t committed to his job, and highlighted his preference for all things Chicago over his duties in Springfield. There he was, gleefully chatting with the team’s president while the hopes of millions of commuters were dashed on the sharp rocks of the Illinois House. Oops.

Frustration with the Springfield mess is at an all-time high in Illinois, and the situation in the Chicago area is the worst I’ve ever seen. After months of turbulence which saw local property tax bills delayed for weeks because of a fight between the governor and the House Democrats and then relentless coverage of never-ending “Doomsday” threats for public transit, voters are hopping mad and they want action.

Blagojevich left Springfield for Chicago around six o’clock last Wednesday evening, knowing that he would likely be at the game during the floor debate. What kind of insane doofus walks right into a trap like that? The station knew he’d be at the game because the Blackhawks promoted the grand “event.” It’s like he wanted to be caught.

The governor reportedly told his aides that he felt he had to uphold his commitment to the Blackhawks because he promised them he’d be there.

Let that point sink in for a bit.

Here’s a guy whose word is completely untrustworthy in Springfield. He’s broken his promises so many times that legislators don’t even believe him when he signs contracts - called “Memoranda of Understanding” in Statehouse lingo. His untrustworthiness is one of the more valid reasons for House Speaker Michael Madigan’s refusal so far to agree to a capital construction plan. Madigan figures that because of their yearlong feud the governor will shaft his Democratic members when it comes time to dole out the project funding, no matter what the governor promises. And considering the governor’s miserable track record at keeping his commitments, who could possibly blame Madigan?

But, hockey. Well, on that topic, Rod Blagojevich’s word is apparently his bond.

The full column is here. I’ll update it with the Southtown’s address when it’s posted.

* I know this is meant to be a joke

Is there anyone left in Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s inner circle who’s willing to tell him when he’s being stupid? Or do they tell him and he ignores it, convinced in his own skewed sense of reality that he can do no wrong?

…But Finke ought to know by now that the problem is not his staff. It’s him.

* More hockey puck stories, compiled by Paul…

* Tribune Editorial: How was the game, gov?

* Where in the world is Rod Blagojevich?

* Schoenburg: Strong reaction to story about Governor’s work ethic

* Editorial: Get in the game, governor

* Chambers: Governor fuels week of absurdities in state capitol

* Illinois transportation talk turning into a pile-up

* Chicago transit issue a legislative quagmire

* Press Release: Anti-gambling forces to launch a new fight to keep a casino out of Chicago

* Carol Marin: Blago pits north vs. south in Illinois

*** UPDATE 1 *** We need a soundtrack for this “scandal.” The Blackhawks theme song “Here Come the Hawks” seems appropriate. You can download it here or just listen below…

[audio:herecomethehawks.mp3]

“Here come the Hawks, the mighty BLACKHAWKS!
Take the attack, YEAH! And, we’ll back you Blackhawks!
You’re flying high, now, so, let’s wrap it up!
Let’s go, you Hawks!
Move out!
Now, all look out! Here come the Hawks!”

*** UPDATE 2 *** John Patterson took the initiative and asked the Blackhawks if they would have minded if the governor had decided to skip the hockey game

A team spokesman said given the circumstances, [new Blackhawks president John McDonough] would have understood had Blagojevich canceled.

“Sure. Absolutely. Understandably, everyone’s busy,” said Guy Chipparoni, a team spokesman.

Ouch.

*** UPDATE 3 *** On second thought, maybe the Gear Daddies’ “Zamboni Song” would be a good choice…


What we really need is a political Zamboni,” said David Dring, spokesman for House Republican leader Tom Cross of Oswego, “to clean up this mess that’s been the 2007 legislative session.”

*** UPDATE 4 *** From Zorn

State Rep. John Fritchey (D-Chicago) told me this morning he’s quite serious about trying to outfit state lawmakers in hockey jerseys for the next “ridiculous special session” Gov. Rod Blagojevich calls.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

50 Comments
  1. - GoBearsss - Monday, Dec 3, 07 @ 10:20 am:

    The worst possible thing that could come out of this is if people use this as an excuse to not do something on transit and capital.

    And that looks like what is happening.


  2. - GoBearsss - Monday, Dec 3, 07 @ 10:24 am:

    Crimefighter - That’s her job. What would you expect her to do?


  3. - Little Egypt - Monday, Dec 3, 07 @ 10:27 am:

    I can’t wait to see the “What was he thinking?” ads showing Blago at the Blackhawks game. He’s beyond stupid. He’s completely clueless as to how he will be shown and presented by opponents should he have the testicular virility to run for a third term. His potential opponents must be dancing.


  4. - Napoleon has left the building - Monday, Dec 3, 07 @ 10:32 am:

    You’re wrong Rich, Finke’s question is not a joke.

    It’s the same question that a lot of people are asking “who is advising him?” “who can we talk to that he trusts?” - very smart and connected people are asking that question because his ridiculous actions continue to confound.


  5. - Some downstater - Monday, Dec 3, 07 @ 10:34 am:

    I know many of his staff members. They are mostly good people. But at a certain point, you have to jump ship and stop being an apologist because your own credibility becomes damaged by association.


  6. - Rich Miller - Monday, Dec 3, 07 @ 10:35 am:

    Well, if it’s not a joke, then Finke has missed the boat.

    It’s not his staff. It’s him.


  7. - Crimefighter - Monday, Dec 3, 07 @ 10:47 am:

    Rich didn’t like what I said, but I feel like putting up a video parody skit where a robot makes the same pre-programmed lines not refuting anything every time another press release comes out that makes the gov look bad.


  8. - Anon - Monday, Dec 3, 07 @ 11:01 am:

    We allowed ourselves to be snookered by his slick ad campaigns, and re-elected this turkey. It’s our own fault to a degree.

    He obviously should have been a one term wonder that moved on to bigger things before decisions became hard, and he became bored.


  9. - babs - Monday, Dec 3, 07 @ 11:13 am:

    Question, does it matter that (besides John McD) Blago was with one of his top donors at the Blackhawk game?


  10. - Anon - Monday, Dec 3, 07 @ 11:26 am:

    “Rich didn’t like what I said, but I feel like putting up a video parody skit where a robot makes the same pre-programmed lines not refuting anything every time another press release comes out that makes the gov look bad.”

    Crimefighter — it’s already been done. Don’t you remember the link posted on this blog to a video of a robot that looked a lot like the governor “responding” to questions down in Carbondale about the baptism/first communion/whatever gift made to one of his daughters?


  11. - Downstater - Monday, Dec 3, 07 @ 11:38 am:

    It is past time that impeachment proceedings begin. This governor is not up to the task of doing the job that the citizens of Illinois deserve and expect. It is obvious that there is a void of leadership at the top and since he is incapable of doing the job someone else of good character and a history of strong leadership needs to be appointed to right this sinking ship.


  12. - Dan, a voter - Monday, Dec 3, 07 @ 11:51 am:

    Can anyone answer this question? Has this Governor and I use the term loosely committed any offense yet that would justify impeachment or how in the world can he be removed from office before he does any more damage?


  13. - Ghost - Monday, Dec 3, 07 @ 11:59 am:

    Rich this kind of antics or behaviour having been going on for some time. The problem seems to be that the Gov, boosted by his election win, does not care what the polls say his image is. I say that because I suspect the Gov thinks the people support him and the polls are made up or wrong. he truly and honestly seems to think either that what he is doing is ok, or that it does not matter what people think. On the second part in some respects he is right. Why should he care if poeple like his antics or work ethic? He has the job guaranteed until the next election. Absent the effect on a future election bid, he is accountable to nobody in that we are powerless to stop his conduct. The people can only sit and becry his conduct, we have no real ability to do more. Thus, he does not seem to care, he won, so let the people eat cake if they are hungry.


  14. - Cassandra - Monday, Dec 3, 07 @ 12:14 pm:

    Well, assuming one agrees that Blago is completely out of touch, this is where a recall option would be useful.

    Citizens other than pols, columnists, and bloggers could productively express their displeasure. You wouldn’t have to actually recall him…the threat might be enough. Somebody actually out there collecting lots of signatures.

    I still wonder, for example, how many letters and e-mails the guv is getting from real citizens about his supposed transgressions. Not enough, apparently, since he seems unfazed by the criticism. So maybe there is a disconnect between what the professional opionators say and what the general public thinks.


  15. - North of I-80 - Monday, Dec 3, 07 @ 12:17 pm:

    Out of touch, listens to no one except for his mirrors [picture the Governors’ dressing room] and he is the only one who matters…. what else did we expect?


  16. - Snidely Whiplash - Monday, Dec 3, 07 @ 12:38 pm:

    Gee, you mean he’s a listless dullard who only advanced politically because he married Dick Mell’s daughter, then spit in Mell’s face after getting elected guv?

    Well, yes, that was obvious well before his election to a second term. But, a majority of you continued to believe him not only qualified, but to be one of “you.” This guy has ridden the “I care about people” schtick so far it’s actually laughable.

    My point being, I totally agree with all the criticisms about his work ethic and lack of concern over issues effecting even the most disadvantaged citizens of Illinois, but hell, we heard much of the same before the election last time, and look what happened? And, aren’t these the same media creatures who declared him the winner of guv debates prior to his first term even though he obviously couldn’t answer a single substantive question (because he didn’t even understand the question, let alone know the answer), but said “I don’t care about details. I care about people.” To the media geniuses, that rated him the obvious winner. “Say, ‘DUH!’, look stupid, and tell everyone how much you love them. … trust me, you’ll be the winner.” Geez.

    Unless Lisa M. runs against him and/or he is indicted, the majority of Illinois’ wonderfully informed electorate will vote for him again, for most likely because he’s the incumbent.


  17. - Stan Makita's drill - Monday, Dec 3, 07 @ 12:47 pm:

    Rod’s behavior mirrors the classic descriptions of psychopathy, a kind of super-solipsism and the lack of any emotional reaction to telling a truth or a lie with the same conviction. That’s why he can say with a straight face: “All in all, it was a good day”. And believe it. Its true because he says so, and that’s all he needs. This guy is not normal.

    But we’re missing the bigger issue here: how can the Blackhawks ever be winners with such a limp-wristed theme song? My god, that’s weak.


  18. - Crimefighter - Monday, Dec 3, 07 @ 12:47 pm:

    Anon — I missed it…please forward me a link.


  19. - Crimefighter - Monday, Dec 3, 07 @ 12:49 pm:

    Whiplash - I don’t think Rod can get elected ever again, the only way he could win a third term is the state GOP completely wusses out and doesn’t run a serious campaign or nominates an extremely weak or left-wing candidate.


  20. - Rich Miller - Monday, Dec 3, 07 @ 12:51 pm:

    LOL. It sounds like something from an Austin Powers movie.


  21. - He makes Ryan Look like a Saint - Monday, Dec 3, 07 @ 1:04 pm:

    Rich, Another miss the boat that is getting some legs is the Admin decision not to bid on the High School Rodeo. The potential tourism loss to the state for the 2 year event is 14 million.


  22. - Little Egypt - Monday, Dec 3, 07 @ 1:05 pm:

    I kbnow some of you have a dislike for the word “impeachment”. How much will the legislature tolerate before beginning impeachment proceedings, and how much will we citizens tolerate before our demands and screams for impeachment of Blago from the furthest points of Illinois is heard by our legislators. Do we have to stick our feet in our legislators butts to get them to begin moving on impeachment? And this is not because I don’t like him (which I don’t) but because the guy IS NOT DOING HIS JOB! Do we need any other reason for impeachment other than Blago is not doing his job? What little of it he is doing amounts to circumventing the constitution, certainly not upholding it. I read where people are thinking Blago can be recalled. He cannot. Our constitution does not provide for it. But we can certainly kick his rear end out by another means, and shame on us for not demanding it.

    And who was the campaign donor he was sitting with at the Blackhawks game? Those of us down south don’t recognize a picture of notorious campaign donors so please give us a name. That way we could do a search on Dan Hynes link to see how much Mr. Big Shot paid for the tickets to the game because you know Elvis sure didn’t spring for those himself.


  23. - Levois - Monday, Dec 3, 07 @ 1:05 pm:

    Heh, that theme worked back in the 1960s!


  24. - Just My Opinion - Monday, Dec 3, 07 @ 1:09 pm:

    Oh yeah, the rodeo thing. Too close to State Fair time is the excuse (inmates at the work camp do most of the work anyway so we can thank them for the beautiful flowers and great condition of the grounds). We will never play host to any other event at the fairgrounds that brings in a better bunch of people eager to spend their money. The cops have a 10 day vacation when these great kids and families come to Springfield. Chalk it up as another DUH. I’m thinking right about now Mayor Davlin is regretting his campaign donations to Blago.


  25. - Silent Majority - Monday, Dec 3, 07 @ 1:13 pm:

    Snidely is correct. Let me add that Blago knows that it is 3 years before the next election and what he does now will be long forgotten by most voters in 6 months. He feels, and probably correctly, that money and the TV commercials that it buys, will be the largest factor in the next election. It was last year.


  26. - Anonymous - Monday, Dec 3, 07 @ 1:16 pm:

    Somehow this whole “hockey puck” theme seems to be an insult to the warmth of Don Rickles. Then again, it fits in so many ways.


  27. - Levois - Monday, Dec 3, 07 @ 1:27 pm:

    I read that Carol Marin’s column I wonder if there may be a full fledged rebellion against legislative leaders. I wish that we might be close to a rebellion by the voters as well. This fallout could have been staved off last year. Oh well the deed is done now!


  28. - Anonymous - Monday, Dec 3, 07 @ 1:30 pm:

    If the media ever gets another opportunity to ask him questions, why don’t they ask him about his behavior and that the people (taxpapers) are up in arms over his total disregard and disrespect for the people who elected him. I would love to hear his answer. How he answers may give us a good idea of “What he is thinking”…..


  29. - Sacks Romana - Monday, Dec 3, 07 @ 1:35 pm:

    Rich called him an insane doofus, and I couldn’t have summarized it better myself.

    When a politician votes in favor of deregulating electric utilities because the electric utilities donated thousands to his/her campaign, I understand that.

    When a politician votes for some backward project or idea because it funnels pork into his/her district, I understand that.

    When a politician wants to sit back on his/her laurels, collect a paycheck, build up a campaign warchest, and not really do any governing, I understand that.

    What I don’t understand about Blagojevich is his total antagonism to anything getting done. If he wants to stay home and watch cartoons all day, then so be it, but why does he actively undermine public transit and all these other initiatives by Madigan and house Dems (and I’m not saying I agree with all their initiatives)? What sort of business or donor would contribute anything to this man’s campaign as he demolishes Illinois with stupidity? Whose interests do any of his bizarre actions ultimately serve? It makes no sense to me other than he’s totally insane. And a doofus.


  30. - A Citizen - Monday, Dec 3, 07 @ 1:40 pm:

    I have had an epiphany! Blags is laying the foundation of an Insanity Plea for the forthcoming indictments and trial(s). THAT is the only thing that makes sense.


  31. - Rich Miller - Monday, Dec 3, 07 @ 1:42 pm:

    ===Rich called him an insane doofus===

    I didn’t say it. I was just sayin’

    lol


  32. - Anonymous - Monday, Dec 3, 07 @ 1:47 pm:

    The National High School Rodeo issue merits more scrutiny. Very few, if any, of those who read and commented on it in the SJ-R this weekend believed the “official” reason given for Dept. of Ag choosing not to bid on it. It sounded like a “party line” excuse handed down from above. Also, I don’t think many people (myself included) realize the economic impact this one event had on Springfield… if the figures I read were correct, it generated more than FOUR TIMES as much commerce in two weeks as Lincoln site tourism does in an entire year!


  33. - Rich Miller - Monday, Dec 3, 07 @ 1:57 pm:

    ===Very few, if any, of those who read and commented on it in the SJ-R this weekend believed ===

    Not exactly a stellar bunch of folks on which to base an argument, but I see your point.


  34. - He makes Ryan Look like a Saint - Monday, Dec 3, 07 @ 1:59 pm:

    As I said in my previous post, according to reports it generates 7 million/year. To me if it is even half of that it is worth it.


  35. - Non-profiteer - Monday, Dec 3, 07 @ 2:32 pm:

    As a state contractor, just logged on to the Comptroller’s website’s vendor payments section, and there was a notice that there is insufficient GRF dollars to meet all its payments, and that payments that are already behind in 2007 are likely to fall farther behind in 2008. Our governor…have we been providing services in good faith and now the Governor will not honor those efforts? If anyone can shed any light on this, I’d be most appreciative.


  36. - capitol view - Monday, Dec 3, 07 @ 2:33 pm:

    there are buttons proclaiming the end day of the Bush Administration — where are the buttons on the joyous day of the end of Blago’s current term?

    Or, “Jan xx, 2011 unless impeached before then”


  37. - Anonymous - Monday, Dec 3, 07 @ 2:38 pm:

    True, Rich, some of the bloggers’ theories were a few enchiladas short of a combination plate (e.g. it’s all part of an ongoing Blago plot to move the capital to Chicago and reduce Springfield to a giant I-55 rest stop :)
    Aside from all that, however, the reasons cited by the Ag officials did have all the earmarks of an official party line excuse handed down from on high. It just doesn’t sound genuine.
    Plus, some of these outrageous revenge/conspiracy theories wouldn’t gain nearly the traction they do if Blago weren’t so veracity challenged in the first place :)


  38. - anonymouse - Monday, Dec 3, 07 @ 2:38 pm:

    “Not exactly a stellar bunch of folks on which to base an argument, but I see your point. ”

    I do not understand that comment. It certainly reads like an elitist bit of snobbery. Are the commenters on this blog more “stellar?” Just what is the point of that remark?


  39. - Team Sleep - Monday, Dec 3, 07 @ 2:40 pm:

    The governor’s inner circle are faulty to a point. But they all have bills to pay, families to feed and retirement to achieve one day. Would any of us give up a job that pays more than $100,000 based on principle? Or would we swallow our pride and go along with his shenanigans with the hope of knowing we’d be well-paid and might get a nice lobbying or advocacy job when leaves office? In national and state politics, a good deal of higher-ups will often just defer to the politician or agency director rather than risk being fired or causing a strain in the relationship. Not all political types are monsters, but I’ve heard of enough who rid staffs of dissenters.

    My wife works for G-Rod and her boss is an advisor to the governor. She tells me it’s not uncommon for Blago to slough off any criticism or ideas from senior staff.

    I’m patently offended that our governor would rather attend a hockey game than at least be on standby for a major transit vote. I know he deserves his own personal and family time, but during crunch time he needs to only be focused on matters of state and governing. Is that really too much to ask?

    I was also angered by Rebecca Rausch’s response to the ILGOP’s “Governor for a Day” contest. Yes, it’s silly, but she didn’t need to go overboard and lecture the public on the governor being busy and raising a family. Lots of parents in Illinois have to juggle family, work, travel, extra-curricular activities, etc. Blago is no different.


  40. - Rich Miller - Monday, Dec 3, 07 @ 2:41 pm:

    ===Are the commenters on this blog more “stellar?”===

    Yes.

    This has been yet another edition of simple answers to silly questions.


  41. - VanillaMan - Monday, Dec 3, 07 @ 3:09 pm:

    One day, all of this will be history. But did we learn anything?

    Blagojevich’s personal problems have been right out there for all to see since 2003. Remember the “testicular virility” press conference back in May, 2005? I thought that was the day that the writing was spray painted on the wall above his powdered-wig head, for all to see.

    But NOOOO. You folks still defended him. You nominated him again. And re-elected him.

    You got what you voted for.

    Stop whining, and deal with YOUR governor.


  42. - Doodles - Monday, Dec 3, 07 @ 3:16 pm:

    I agree with Team Sleep. Why is it OK for the Governor to work at home, skip town whenever, etc. because he’s a father? He’s portrayed as a “family man.” Yet he expects General Assembly members to drop everything and rush to Springfield for his special sessions. I bet a few of them are fathers too, some even with young children. After all, he asked for the job and should have known what it entails.


  43. - Michelle Flaherty - Monday, Dec 3, 07 @ 3:32 pm:

    Blagojevich and the political zamboni in action?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JCS6TyJJJZ0


  44. - Rich Miller - Monday, Dec 3, 07 @ 3:33 pm:

    Ouch.


  45. - Illinois Guy - Monday, Dec 3, 07 @ 4:47 pm:

    Hey Fritchey - Hockey jerseys?

    How about a little less gamesmanship, and a little more statesmanship?

    Statesmanship will get us out of this mess, not gamesmanship.

    Shame on you.


  46. - GoBearsss - Monday, Dec 3, 07 @ 4:54 pm:

    Isn’t that the same Fritchey who jetted off to Europe all summer instead of being down in Springfield?

    I don’t think he has much room to talk.

    What is this resistance by everybody down in Springfield to actually doing work? Everybody included.

    You can whine and complain all you want about the Governor not “leading”, but is everybody so content to just sit around and do what they are told by their leader?


  47. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Monday, Dec 3, 07 @ 5:15 pm:

    GoBearsss:

    Thanks for giving me an excuse to use this quote again:

    “He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.”

    That’s one of the Articles of Indictment listed in the Declaration of Independence against King George III.

    Now do you understand why House members resent being summoned to Springfield? If the Governor actually proposed legislation for them to vote on, if the Senators actually showed up, and if the Governor was actually in attendance as well, no lawmaker would complain.

    But King Rod’s antics serve no purpose other than to create a media circus, false hope, and try to bully lawmakers into giving him what he wants.

    Oh yeah, and Rod’s overtime antics have cost taxpayers over $1 million, from what I understand.


  48. - GoBearsss - Monday, Dec 3, 07 @ 5:30 pm:

    I am sure your friend Michael Madigan is completely innocent in these endeavors, as usual.

    Look - if you want to start a rebellion against the Illinois National Guard, go right ahead. But don’t think I ever am going to feel sorry for someone who feels inconvenienced by doing their job. (To be fair, nobody is excluded from that sentiment).

    But that is exactly what the legislators have asked us to do - feel sorry for them for being called into special session.

    Sorry, I won’t do it.


  49. - this just in.. - Monday, Dec 3, 07 @ 6:52 pm:

    “in other news, the Chicago Blackhawks today announced a new contract with Okzer International Zamboni Enterprises, based in Farooq, Syria. The Hawks indicate the firm has developed a unique Zamboni that also serves as a high-speed document shredder. Company spokesperson Kelly Christopher could not be reached for comment.”


  50. - Whizbang - Tuesday, Dec 4, 07 @ 2:31 am:

    As a vendor at the NHFR in Springfield I will miss them. And although not of Blago’s party I did buy a Blago 08 for president shirt. Anything to get him out of office. Darn it did not work. Can we pray for a VP slot on the dem ticket?


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