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The Blagojevich Show: It's No Joke to Illinois
Excuse me if I'm not laughing. The people who are treating Blagojevich as a figure of fun apparently have no idea what damage he has done to the state of Illinois. His depredations did not begin with the Fitzgerald tapes. When I was in Springfield almost two years ago for a bipartisan dinner at the Lincoln Library, I was told by prominent Republicans and Democrats, including a widely admired former governor, that the Blagojevich administration was "the worst ever."
At the time, Fitzgerald was already working his way up Blagojevich's chain of command, bringing in one official after another, convicting them and then offering some leniency at sentencing in return for their testimony against higher-ups.
It was assumed at that dinner that eventually Fitzgerald would have the pieces in place to show that Blagojevich was at the center of this criminal conspiracy. It was the urgency of stopping the governor from carrying out his reported plan to sell the Senate seat to the highest bidder that forced Fitzgerald to move when he did.
Meantime, the residents of my home state have paid a terrible price for Blagojevich's dereliction of duty. While neighboring Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin all have enjoyed the benefits of innovative, effective and upright governors during the past six years, Illinois has seen its finances, its school systems and its competitive position undermined by a governor known for his absenteeism and greed.
That's a joke to some people, but not to a state I love.