It really wasn’t that long ago when people outside of Illinois didn’t know who Rod Blagojevich was. The Chicago Cubs held the crown of the biggest loser in Chicago. The Cubs faithful were fooled once again when the 2008 team, which was “supposed” to go to the World Series, was swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Order was restored in windy city. Then Chicago sent one if its own to the White House. The city was buzzing, White Sox and Cubs fans were getting along, people were happier than they have been since Michael Jordan had this city on his shoulders.
Then the headlines on December 9th, 2008: “Governor Busted” “Prosecutors: Blagojevich tried to sell Obama’s vacant senate seat!”
It was as if the air had been let out of the city. The allegations were eye opening. Did our Governor really do what the U.S attorney Patrick Fitzgerald says he did? The prosecutors touted wire taps where conversations were recorded. There were allegations that he tried to have Chicago Tribune editorial writers fired in return for the state of Illinois helping structure a sale of Wrigley Field. Suddenly, everyone forgot about the Cubs. Everyone was talking about Rod Blagojevich.
I live not too far from the governor, about 8 blocks to be exact. Over the years we had grown accustomed to seeing the governor on his weekly jog around the neighborhood. People would nod, say hello, and allow him to go on. But suddenly those jogs were happening in the snow with photographers chasing him. Coffee shops and pubs around the city were filled with people talking about the allegations. Suddenly people were wondering whether players in the upcoming Obama administration were caught on tape with the governor.
Governor Blagojevich went on the talk show circuit while the Illinois Senate was debating his impeachment. He appeared on The View, Larry King, Campbell Brown, David Letterman, professing his innocence. He appointed Roland Burris to the open senate seat. A short time later, Blagojevich was impeached. He walked outside his home and again professed his innocence saying he was looking forward to his day in court.
A federal grand jury today handed up sweeping corruption charges against Blagojevich, his brother Robert Blagojevich, the Governor’s former chief of staff , his most recent chief of staff, his chief fundraiser, and an Illinois powerbroker. A columnist for the Chicago Tribune, John Kass, wrote that the country was getting a taste of Chicago doing politics as usual. He wrote that “By Chicago standards, Blagojevich isn’t crazy.”
Whether Blagojevich was doing business as usual, as Kass suggested, or not, the former governor’s day in court is coming. But for now, a patron in my local coffee shop suggested out loud, “ Blagojevich narrowly beats out the Cubs for the biggest loser in Chicago.”
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