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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Fri Mar 16, 2012, 08:53 PM

18. Illinois' lost decade CHI-TRIB EDITORIAL

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/editorials/ct-edit-blagojevich-0315-20120315%2c0%2c83781.story

The sorry spirals of a corrupt governor and his broke, broken state

Ten years ago — it was March 19, 2002 — Illinois Democrats nominated Rod Blagojevich as their candidate for governor. The percentages should have humbled him: 37 for Blagojevich, 34 for former Chicago schools CEO Paul Vallas, 29 for former Attorney General Roland Burris. But rampant scandal under Republican Gov. George Ryan had chased him into retirement, and tipped Illinois Democratic in the Nov. 5 general election. On the night of that victory, an emboldened Blagojevich solemnly declared: "Illinois has voted for change." Change didn't come. On Dec. 7, 2011, a federal prosecutor would crisply synthesize Blagojevich's tenure as governor: "He was corrupt when he took the oath of office. He was corrupt until the day he was arrested." For his serial felonies, U.S. Bureau of Prisons inmate 40892-424 reports Thursday to a penitentiary in Colorado. Barring the unexpected, he must serve the minimum 85 percent of his 14-year sentence. On that schedule, he would be released in 2024 — when he is 67 years old....Beyond the devastation Blagojevich's choices have wrought for himself and his family, he also wrought havoc on Illinois. Building on the similarly soul-crushing misdeeds of his predecessor, Ryan — U.S. Bureau of Prisons inmate 16627-424 — Blagojevich left this state broke and broken. What could have been a decade of smart economizing and smarter services instead devolved into indebtedness, chagrin and corruption:

During Illinois' lost decade, Blagojevich perfected the terrible borrow-and-spend ethos that has rendered state government insolvent — unable to pay bills as they come due. With help from his legislative enablers, Blagojevich accelerated Illinois' downward spiral. He committed Illinois to spend money it did not have on health care expansions and other popularity projects that its taxpayers could not afford. Today state government has nearly $200 billion in debts, overdue bills and unfunded obligations. The distinction of America's worst state credit rating and the wastefully high interest payments that come with it? All yours, Illinois. We cannot quantify what's likely the biggest part of each citizen's burden here: But every time an employer locates elsewhere rather than buy into Illinois' debt overhang, every time a young family moves to a state with more job creation because Illinois' future looks bleak — when those things occur here, they quietly depress the value of homes, the inflow of revenues and the promise of growth.

Worse still is the twisted ethos of governance as a pastime-to-be-exploited that Blagojevich & Co. perpetrated — and that some of his survivors perpetrate to this day. You've read before our belief that citizens of this state are cheated as much by favors as by fraud. That for every Illinois pol who tried to sell a U.S. Senate seat, many others exploit citizens for personal or political gain. That the proven cost of conniving and clout in Illinois ranges from whose children get the choice jobs, too whose children get tuition waivers at state universities, to whose children get incinerated in the van wreck.

The lost decade, the legacy of Blagojevich and Ryan too, has wrongly convinced many citizens they can do nothing to end the Illinois culture of political sleaze, so why try? The crooks and opportunists still in government appreciate that resignation. Just as they appreciate how we apathetically let them gerrymander their districts, and shroud public business in official secrecy, and rig lavish pensions for themselves and their cronies. They appreciate, too, how we let them reject meaty recommendations from the blue-ribbon Illinois Reform Commission that would have trimmed their power.

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Demeter Mar 2012 OP
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LineReply Illinois' lost decade CHI-TRIB EDITORIAL
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