January 29, 2009

Ding, Dong, the Blago's Gone / Quinn is In

Governor Patrick Quinn is the new chief executive of Illinois. A few months ago, I'd never have imagined that Bush and Blagojevich would both be gone by the end of January.


For six years, Blago held the State of Illinois hostage. Oh, yeah, he talks a good game. But he has bankrupted the state. He brags incessantly about the children's health insurance plan that he championed, but it has not helped children. Healthcare activists say there are almost no providers who accept payment from the program. Why would they? The state has not been keeping up with its obligations for a long time.

For all of his populist talk, the former Governor showed no interest whatsoever in supporting and funding agencies that provide services to the poor and needy. He seemed to have a vendetta against higher education, consistently slashing funding to the state's universities. He raided state pensions. He rarely visited the state capitol in Springfield, opting instead to "work" from his home in Chicago. A Chicago commentator claimed today on MSNBC that he regularly saw Blago jogging through his neighborhood on weekday afternoons. That's how the man "worked on behalf of the people."

A friend and I campaigned in the last election for one of Blagojevich's opponents, hoping to do whatever we could to get rid of him. In downstate Illinois, even hard-core Democrats were ready to abandon the party because of Blagojevich. So, why did the people re-elect him for a second term? I suppose for the same reasons that people re-elected George Bush: ignorance? loyalty? fear of change? Or maybe it was just the Chicago machine that is capable of producing thousands of votes.

Re-election notwithstanding, the impeachment of Blagojevich has been on the table for some time, along with efforts to introduce recall as an option in Illinois law. Today's impeachment was not about pay-for-play with the U.S. Senate seat. That escapade simply gave Illinois legislators the balls to finally do what should have been done a long time ago.


Many people, even in Illinois, aren't familiar with the new Governor and are wondering what to expect. I can tell you this: he will not be one of those who follows his term in the State House with a term in the Big House. Pat Quinn has been an activist and reformer for years. I was delighted when he was elected as Lieutenant Governor. I wish him God speed in his efforts to bring good government and fiscal responsibility to the State of Illinois.

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