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Illinois Citizens Deserve Corrupt Government

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The current Illinois governor, Rod Blagojevich, recently charged with crimes by the federal prosecutor, just follows in the footsteps of previous convicted Illinois governors and a huge number of other Illinois officials convicted of crimes. What is remarkable is that in the 2008 election Illinois voters had the opportunity to recognize that they needed to use their constitutional convention opportunity to reform state government. They voted not to use it.

Which raises the question: How stupid or brainwashed are most Illinois citizens?

Here is the story behind the headlines. According to the Illinois state constitution, voters must be given the opportunity every twenty years to vote for or against having a state constitutional convention that can be used to amend the constitution or rewrite it altogether. Considering an incredibly long history of public corruption you would think that Illinois voters would be inclined to give serious thought to how they could improve their government by means of a state constitutional convention. Many prominent people and groups worked hard to educate citizens why they should vote in favor of a constitutional convention.

In November, two-thirds voted against having a convention. Twenty years earlier they also voted against one. Even with twenty more years of public corruption, Illinois citizens could not be convinced to pursue a path to political reform free from the chains of their corrupt state government. The last convention was in 1970.

Those advocating passage of the convention measure included: Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn, the Chicago Tribune, the Springfield State Journal Register, state representatives Mike Boland and Jack Franks, former state treasurer Judy Baar Topinka, political journalists Rich Miller and Scott Reeder, and numerous government reform advocates.

Back in January 2008 this is what John Bambenek, who wrote a book supporting the convention, had the good sense to say:

“Gov. Rod Blagojevich has done something remarkable in Illinois. He has managed to unite people across the political spectrum to create consensus that he absolutely stinks as a governor. Illinois deserves better than Rod Blagojevich. Because of his low approval in both parties and the budget fiasco of last year, legislators (even those in his own party) are talking about amending the constitution to allow recall votes of sitting politicians. The timing for such talk is opportune because on the November ballot this year there will be a question on whether to have a constitutional convention for Illinois to rewrite or amend the state constitution.”

Like other pro-convention advocates, Bambenek wanted to return power to Illinois citizens. Most of them did not listen.

A key argument in favor of convention was that the cost of a no-frills convention (around $23 million) would surely be repaid by the savings to taxpayers of constitutional amendments that could get the state out of the lobbyist-run budget crisis it was in. Not to mention the possibility of an amendment that could make it easier to get rid of corrupt governors and other officials by, for example, recall by citizens. How sensible, considering that even before the charges against the current governor three previous Illinois governors had been convicted of crimes.

Otto Kerner (D) governor 1961-1968 was convicted on 17 counts of bribery, conspiracy, perjury, and related charges. He was sentenced to three years in federal prison and fined $50,000. Daniel Walker (D) governor 1973-1977 was convicted of improprieties related to a savings and loan association. He reportedly received over a million dollars in fraudulent loans for his business and repairs on his yacht. He pleaded out to three felonies and was freed after 17 months in prison because he was supposedly frail and chronically ill, but is still living 20 years later and living near the ocean in Mexico. And George Ryan (R) governor 1999-2003 was convicted on 20 federal counts that included racketeering, bribery, and extortion

About Joel S. Hirschhorn

Formerly full professor Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison, and senior official Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and National Governors Association. Author of four nonfiction books and hundreds of articles.
  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    John Bambenek has been busy elsewhere trying to mount a campaign against the beloved “Hot Rod” of Illinois. I asked a query there asking if “Obameleh” had any connections to all this. I got a link to follow to Gateway Pundit – which detailed the links between Congressmaggot Rahm Emanuel, Senator Barack Obama and the beknighted Governor Blagojevich. I leave you to follow the links to see just what pile of feces is going to stink up the White House for the next four years.

    Mazel Tov!

    The “High Priests” of the Knesset, from Livni, Barak, Netanyahu on down will being doing obeisance to this pile of feces stinking up from the “setting sun”, the United States of America, and they will be a real target to enable me to aim my message of revolution from the mountains of Samaria…..

    shabbát shalóm u’m’vorákh
    Ruvy

  • Mark Eden

    Joel, I appreciate your efforts. Would you explain your argument briefly in a comment for the ‘happened long ago’ part of this:

    …the federal constitution that prescribes a convention of state delegates to propose constitutional amendments when two-thirds of states ask for one, which happened long ago.

    thanks

  • Joel S. Hirschhorn

    As to my statement that the only requirement has been met long ago, I am referring to the over 600 state applications for a convention from all 50 states that go back a long time. What is most fascinating is that the government never made these available to the public. Our group Friends of the Article V Convention has been collecting these applications and making them available on our website wwww.foavc.org. Remember, that Article V does NOT require that state applications specify what they want a convention to address. The indisputable fact is that for a long time two-thirds of states have asked for a convention and that Congress has refused to obey the Constitution and their oath of office. Why? Corrupt status quo politicians fear a convention, which is a form of direct democracy that our Founders knew we needed.

  • Baronius

    The corrupt Illinois system continues because everyone gets a seat at the table. There are districts that are understood to be the property of certain parties, certain ethnic groups. If memory serves, a few years back Lipensky ran against Lipinski for what is essentially the Polish Congressional seat. Lipinski has since left Congress, replaced by his son. The younger Lipinski was allowed to skip the primary, although no one’s sure how.

    I think the mentality goes back to the Capone days: pay everyone.

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    “And then there was the famous case of Rep. Dan Rostenkowski”

    Fun fact that Chicagoanite and fellow BCer Tuffy pointed out to me. Look up who else served in the Illinois 5th after Rostenkowski.

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    A suggested campaign slogan for some mobbed up candidate for Chicago alderman some years ago was:

    “Vote for me and nobody gets hurt.”

    Works for me.

    B

  • bliffle

    Listening to the radio the other day, I heard some troublemaker ask “what crime is Blago accused of committing?”

    Bad language? Coarseness that would offend his mother? Terminal narcissism?

    I don’t recall any bribes offered, accepted, or recommended. Does anyone else?