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Reform and Renewal

Monday, Mar 30, 2009

* When reading stories like this one, always try to keep in mind that this is Rod Blagojevich we’re talking about. So placing blame on Blagojevich is absolutely paramount. Only some of his targets were complicit

Four potential candidates for President Obama’s vacant Senate seat were each to be targeted for contributions by ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s campaign as part of an aggressive, $2.3 million race for cash late last year, an internal campaign document obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times shows.

The four were among about 150 people targeted for contributions by the Friends of Blagojevich campaign organization by the end of 2008, when a new Illinois law took effect that bans taking money from state contractors and appointees, the document shows.

This says it best…

“They may have had him on the list,” [JB Pritzker] spokesman Dave Lundy said. “But they had a lot of quirky ideas that didn’t have a basis in reality.”

Yep. He had lots of “quirky” ideas, like this one

During one conversation, Blagojevich brought up with [White Sox/Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf] the possibility of appointing Attorney General Lisa Madigan to the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by President Obama’s election, sources with the Blagojevich camp say. They say he was seeking a way to advance legislation through the Illinois House — controlled by Madigan’s father, House Speaker Michael Madigan

What a stupid idea that was. The plan was to offer to appoint Lisa Madigan to the US Senate in exchange for Speaker Madigan’s support for the governor’s capital plan, health care expansions, etc.

Complete, utter lunacy.

First of all, Speaker Madigan wasn’t even returning Blagojevich’s phone calls. He was also refusing to meet with the guy.

Most importantly, though, Speaker Madigan had absolutely zero trust in Blagojevich’s word. No way would he have cut that deal. No way. When I told Madigan about the “plan,” he laughed incredulously.

* Since we’re on the topic of corruption and, by extension reform, let’s take a look at two other stories worth mentioning

Sen. Susan Garrett (D-Lake Forest) said she will consider amending one of the ethics bills in the legislature this year to add new requirements for opening certain legislative meetings. She said the governor’s involvement in a meeting with lawmakers should “trigger” an open meeting requirement because two branches of government are involved. “I think that what’s happened here, and I’m not condoning it, is that it’s a tradition that is followed at the state and federal level,” Garrett said.

House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago) said she would be surprised if caucuses or meetings with the governor were opened up, saying “in our culture we have been so unaccustomed to that degree of openness.”

Understatement of the week goes to Currie.

* The governor’s extra-legislative reform commission meets again today. Scheduled topics are…

- The powerful role played by the “rules committees” in the Illinois House of Representatives and the Illinois Senate. To a large degree, they decide whether legislation will advance.

- The flawed process used to determine how Illinois redraws its legislative and congressional district boundaries every 10 years after a new U.S. census.

- The rushed, last-minute way that the Illinois General Assembly typically approves a new state budget, generally with little input from rank-and-file lawmakers.

Apparently, former GOP Sen. Steve Rauschenberger is the expert witness today.

And this weird little demonstration will be part of the day’s festivities…

To spotlight the need to get rid of government corruption, members of the [Institute for Principled Leadership in Public Service’s] student advisory committee will encourage fellow students to throw water balloons at a 3-by-5-foot sign depicting a mud-stained image of Illinois. The sign will be posted outside the meeting site.

The idea is “to wash the mud off of the state,” said Josh Cox, a Bradley senior who is studying political science. “We’re kind of starting the cleansing process.”

A member of the governor’s reform commission, Brad McMillan, runs that institute sponsoring the water balloon toss. That should give you a good idea of how this commission is running.

* Meanwhile, the Sun-Times has a very good piece about how Blagojevich pal Chris Kelly allegedly made a fortune doing roofing jobs for two major O-hare-based airlines. And the AP takes a look at the alleged “corruption tax” issue, which has been discussed ad infinitum. No real new stuff there.

* Related…

* 3 weeks in office adds $40,000 a year to pension

* Illinois corruption: State officials could look at stricter ethics laws in other states

* Clock Ticking in Blago Case

* Statehouse Insider: An upleasant blast from the past

* Blagojevich is still everywhere – and some can smile about it

- Posted by Rich Miller        

12 Comments
  1. - wordslinger - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 10:55 am:

    How in the world did Bernie Kosar get on that potential contributor list anyway?


  2. - Third Generation Chicago Native - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 10:58 am:

    ========The State Employees Retirement System has signed off on granting former Rep. Kurt Granberg (D-Carlyle) a yearly pension of $113,305.=======

    Good example on why pension reform is urgently needed in this state.


  3. - Anonymous45 - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 11:18 am:

    The Trib piece on Kelly/O’Hare does not mention that John Harris was working as Daley’s chief of staff at the time…same scheme, different guy…


  4. - the Patriot - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 11:18 am:

    Why no one hold Mike Madigan responsible for this mess. He constantly brushes off the ex-Guv with a laugh, but we know two things.

    1. Madigan endorsed Blago in two elections.

    2. Madigan put and every budget on Blago’s desk.

    He is equally or perhaps more reponsible then Blago for this mess. You can’t blame a dog for being a dog. Blago is an idiot and we know that, but Mike Madigan kept supplying Blago’s arsenal for 6 years and needs to be held accountable.

    There will be no meaningful reform in Illinois as long as Mike Madigan is in office.


  5. - Fedup2 - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 11:22 am:

    So how many days did he actually work at IDNR? Did someone back date his appointment so the perception was he worked 3 weeks?

    This is absolutley absured - he wasn’t confirmed, he wasn’t in the building those 3 weeks, and there should be some kind of provision you must at least work a certain amount of time in order for the bump in pension payments!!!!!

    All we have done here is show another loophole in how to stack your pension benefits before you leave State employment and screw the taxpayers once again.

    $6,000.00 raises at IDOT and other agencies -
    $40,000.00 pension boost
    10% bump in salary when you go from once State Agency to another (some Blago people did this numerous times)

    When does someone say enough?


  6. - Former State Employee 2 - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 11:36 am:

    I’m reading the Blago’s contributor’s list. Can anyone tell me what “clean up” in the notes section means?


  7. - lincoln street - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 11:48 am:

    The Institute for Principled Leadership in Public Service?

    Is that pronounced Ip-Lips? Or Ipilepsy?


  8. - lincoln street - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 11:54 am:

    Someone will say the Granberg pension doesn’t matter because it’s a small amount of money compared to the size of the budget.

    The Granberg pension matters enormously, because it sets a tone of screw the state, take care of yourself. Everyone who works for the state hears the message these legislators and former legislators send.

    If you met with someone about a big business deal, you’d never say I’ll ignore the fact he stole my laptop on the way out, because compared to the size of the deal, the laptop isn’t worth that much.

    As long as the legislature fails to change the pension law for themselves, Illinois is a state where the crooks are in charge.

    President Obama sought a return of bonuses by AIG traders. Is anyone going to Granberg to tell him to return his ill-gotten gains? He could show he’s honest by refusing to accept it.


  9. - Truthful James - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 12:37 pm:

    The Pension Board says that the pension is earned even though the idjut was never confirmed?

    If he was not confirmed he did not hold the office on which the pension is based. Here are the members

    Gordon John Mazzotti
    John Frigo
    Loren Iglarsh
    Michele Cusumano
    Lori Laidlaw
    Joyce King

    That should infuriate about every taxpayer in this state. What a standard has been set for the group which has the fiduciary responsibility of managing the pension fund.

    They are hiding behind the Executive Director,

    Rich, you ought to do a Freedom of Information Act inquiry and get the minutes.


  10. - 47th Ward - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 4:45 pm:

    Did Cheryle Jackson bounce a check to Rod? Or did one of the checks she bundled bounce? Either way, ouch.


  11. - Anon - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 10:38 pm:

    Speaking of Harris, did anyone see the fundraising letter written by Don Zoufal’s wife printed in the Sun Times? She was trying to raise money for Harris’ family. I guess they didn’t save all those years he had high-paying jobs. Zoufal seems to have an uncanny knack for working with/for those targeted by the Feds. He was general counsel for Donnie Snyder at the Illinois Department of Corrections, who went to federal prison for taking bribes. And then he went to work with Harris at O’Hare.


  12. - Anonymous - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 11:42 pm:

    It was not bounced. Payment was stopped.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


* Reader comments closed until Tuesday
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Tribune asked 16 mayoral candidates to release tax returns, 6 complied
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