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The [Friday] Papers

By Steve Rhodes

To tell you the truth, there is less than I thought there would be in the still-massive indictment of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich and five other power brokers. The indictment runs 75 pages; I had predicted it would top 100. Oh well. There's probably more to come.

Let's take a look.

* "If true, it's a chilling tale of public corruption in Illinois," the Sun-Times writes today. "Entering office on the heels of a major scandal by his predecessor, the now ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich is accused of committing crooked acts in office before a jury was even picked in the federal corruption trial of former Gov. George Ryan."

Nice, although I think he's accused of committing crooked acts even before he took office. Or at least conspiring to.

* "To Blagojevich's credit," Roland Burris spokesperson Delmarie Cobb said, "he decided as a final act it was important to appoint someone with an exceptional reputation of integrity and superior public service to the U.S. Senate seat."

Yes. The man accused of committing crooked acts even before he took office and continues to profess his innocence against mounds of evidence made a singular exception when it came to appointing Roland Burris to a U.S. Senate seat he is otherwise alleged to have tried to sell.

* "The newest extortion allegation against ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich is that he tried to hold up a $2 million state grant for a Northwest Side school unless Rahm Emanuel would get his Hollywood agent brother to throw a campaign fund-raiser for Blagojevich," Abdon Pallasch reports in the Sun-Times.

* Pallasch appeared on Greta Van Susteren's cable-TV show on Fox News last night. Here was my favorite part.

GRETA: I am not suggesting [Patti] did anything wrong whatsoever . . .

ABDON: Heh-heh. (smiling)

GRETA: Any thought that she's in trouble?

ABDON: Absolutely.

* "Former Illinois First Lady Patricia Blagojevich, whose foul-mouthed diatribes are the object of comedy show scorn, was more closely implicated in her husband's alleged corruption scheme Thursday by federal authorities who now say she took thousands in payoffs for real estate work she never did," the Tribune reports.

And who did those payoffs come from? Tony Rezko (D-Obama).

* "Your Move, Enablers," the Tribune editorial page says today.

My favorite comments:

1. I'd note that the Trib has almost always endorsed nearly every incumbent legislator. I've always felt that was a mistake that amounted to enabling the enablers. Will you repeat the mistake?

Posted by: ryan | Apr 2, 2009 7:20:31 PM

2. And, to conveniently forget how many times the Chicago Tribune endorsed Governor Ryan and all others of his ilk, again, is just as enabling as anything done by our current crop of politicos working downstate.

Posted by: Rev. William Hayashi | Apr 2, 2009 8:37:10 PM

3. This otherwise-sharp editorial ignores one enormous elephant in the room: the Daley/Stroger political machine. If Illinois politics are going to be swept clean, the job has to start right here in Chicago at City Hall.

Posted by: Judy Raddue | Apr 2, 2009 9:06:56 PM

* Obama, who backed Blagojevich in both 2002 and 2006, and whose self-described political godfather is Tony Rezko, isn't listed among the "enablers"

* Nor is the Sun-Times editorial page, which changed its 2002 Democratic primary endorsement from Paul Vallas to Rod Blagojevich after then-publisher and now-convicted felon David Radler brought an agenda to bear, which to this day has never been explained to readers.

* Today's Sun-Times editorial page is for reform, though. (It's not worth a link, trust me.)

* "The Combine didn't want me as governor," Vallas tells John Kass. "They didn't want real reform."

* "[Patti] got a $12,000-a-month salary from Rezko, who also paid her more than $54,000 in real estate commissions for which she did little or no work, according to the indictment," a Tribune graphic notes. "In 2008, Blagojevich also was said to have ordered an aide to arrange a paid state board appointment for Patricia Blagojevich or get state vendors to hire her. When two financial institutions balked at putting her on the payroll, Blagojevich ordered them cut off from further state business."

* "After turning Illinois politics into an amusement park ride, most notably for allegedly trying to sell President Obama's Senate seat, Blagojevich spent the day of his indictment with his family at Disney World," the Tribune reports.

Note to Tribune: I know it was hard to resist, but the amusement park thing just doesn't work.

* Maybe Gary Weitman wrote that line.

* Much better, from Lisa Holton via Facebook: "Hey, if Blago's in Florida today, they'd better make sure he isn't close to a boat with a working motor . . . "

* "It's hard to remember now, but ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich was actually elected to reform state government," University of Chicago political science professor Charles Lipson writes in a Trib Op-Ed today.

As I wrote and argued at the time, anyone who believed Blagojevich was a reformer was ignorant and delusional. He was an empty-suit backbencher with no notable accomplishments in his record and certainly no reform credentials to brandish. He was Dick Mell's guy, for godsakes. One of the first rules of politics and journalism is to watch what people do, not what they say. I mean, really.

* "This is old-fashioned graft," former federal prosecutor Ron Safer said on Chicago Tonight last night. "Putting money in your pocket and into your family's pocket. And planning to do just that."

* "This is flat-out asking people for money in exchange for things," said lawyer Angela Pitts (?), who was on George Ryan's defense team, on the same panel. "It's striking in how simplistic this enterprise was."

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New Wilco


The Beachwood Tip Line: Co-conspiratate.


Posted on April 3, 2009

MUSIC - Holiday Hullabaloo.
POLITICS - Bank Profits Soaring.
SPORTS - Chicago vs. Michigan, 1903.

BOOKS - Dia De Los Muertos Stories.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Chicagoetry: West Town Blues.

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