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Special Election is the Only Option in Illinois

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(Danville, California)

“Vote early, but vote once!” That ought to be the new mantra in Illinois politics. The only way out of the current scandal concerning the filling of Barack Obama’s former Senate seat is to hold a special election. Yes, I know. It’s not truly the only way out; but it’s certainly the best way out.

Let’s consider the options:

-Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who is showing himself as stubborn as a mule, can still pick the replacement; but there is no law that says the U.S. Senate has to swear that person in. Even if it did, the damage to Democrats and Barack Obama’s first year in office would be disastrous. It would appear to be a cynical ploy just to get Democrats one seat closer to the filibuster-proof 60-seat majority. The new senator would be a pariah in Washington (and Illinois), no matter who it was. Reelection in 2010 would be nearly impossible.

-Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn could become Governor on Blagojevich’s impeachment or resignation. Quinn could make the Senate appointment and says he is inclined to do so. While he’d like a special election, that process could be long and expensive; and Quinn says that Illinois needs two Senators in Washington during the current economic crisis. I can’t argue with that; but, short of Mother Theresa coming back to take the seat, anyone else looks tainted by the process.

-The special election is the best way out. We’re a democracy, and it’s always best to let the people decide, no matter how flawed the person we select. It is still our choice!
And, yes, that gives the Republicans a very good shot at gaining another U.S. Senate seat; but, that’s democracy. So let the chips fall where they may. Having the Governor choose at this point, regardless of who the Governor is, just smacks of politics as usual.

The irony is that on Monday the Illinois Legislature will take up the issue of stripping the Governor of his powers to make the appointment and, instead, will call for a special election. Presuming the bill passes, it will go to the Governor’s desk. I can’t imagine he’ll sign it. That keeps the standoff alive. Impeachment of Blagojevich likely won’t be considered until January.

January ought to be one of Illinois’s proudest moments. The state that sent Lincoln, one of our greatest leaders to the White House, should be beaming with pride as it watches another resident take the oath of office. Instead, this embarrassing cloud may still be hanging over our country on Inauguration Day.

For those who think this is some Republican-driven agenda to embarrass the new President, look again. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, a Democrat, plans to argue before the Illinois Supreme Court that Blagojevich should be declared unfit for office and removed. While her intentions are in the right place, she, too, has been mentioned as a potential Senate replacement for Obama.

So, the best way to go is still a special election. Let all these “wanna-be” Senators run for office and make their case to the voters. The only question is "Will Gov. Blagojevich let them as, perhaps, his last official act?"

I have a feeling we’ll be talking about this issue lots more. Keep coming back to www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

Hollywood Screenwriters Could Not Invent Blagojevich

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(Danville, California)

I spent a full hour on KGO-Radio 810 AM Monday night, dissecting the controversy surrounding (and the arrest of) Gov. Rod Blagojevich, (D-IL). The host was well known comedian, actor and political junkie Brian Copeland. You can listen to the tape of the show by clicking on: http://kgoradio.com/Article.asp?id=49920. Select Tuesday, then the 10 p.m.to 11 p.m. hour! As creative as Brian is, I don’t think even he or Hollywood screenwriters could have conceived a story so bizarre and with so many layers. Rod Blagojevich is an enigma!

Here are some samples I have culled from various political and news-based internet sites, as well as from the evidence presented so far by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald:

-According to the “Chicago Tribune,” there was a “$25,000 Club.” People or groups that gave big to Blagojevich were paid back handsomely. A full 75 percent of them received state jobs, state contracts or state appointments to high-paying and politically influential boards, according to the newspaper.

- Barack Obama apparently wanted top aide Valerie Jarrett considered as his U.S. Senate replacement. On the FBI tapes, Blagojevich reportedly said all he’d get was their “appreciation.” He was apparently seeking much more!

-One contributor gave $1,500 to Blagojevich after the contributor’s wife was put on a paying board seat. The Governor later claimed the check was a birthday present for his toddler daughter!

-Patti Blagojevich may be in hot water, too. She collected a six-figure commission on a real estate deal from a campaign contributor. It was her only commission that year. It turns out the homeowner’s business won a lucrative contract to do urinalysis for the state of Illinois.

-Blagojevich is openly feuding with his own father-in-law, Chicago Alderman Richard Mell, who was the man who launched Blagojevich’s political career.

-Blagojevich is openly feuding with the Democratic Speaker of the Illinois Assembly, Mike Madigan, as well as Madigan’s daughter Lisa, who is Illinois Attorney General and a fellow Democrat.

-Blagojevich is feuding with his Democratic Lt. Governor, Pat Quinn, who will become Governor if Rod B. resigns.

-Blagojevich refused to live in the Governor’s Mansion in Springfield. His constant round trips between Chicago and Springield, with entourage and security, have cost Illinois taxpayers an estimated $6,000 per flight, according to an audit. By contrast, flying short-notice commercial between Springfield and Chicago would have run anywhere from $500 to $700 bucks, according to the “St. Louis Post-Dispatch.”

-Blagojevich has ties to former Rep. Dan Rostenkowski, who served time in prison for corruption; to former Alderman Ed Vrdolyak, who is about to go to prison for corruption; and to financier Tony Rezko, who was also recently convicted of public corruption and faces another trial. Rezko was a big backer of Barack Obama, but the U.S. Attorney has said that so far he has found no links to Obama or wrongdoing on the part of the President-elect.

Obama is probably very happy today that he and Blagojevich did not get along very well and were often rivals. That apparently kept them at a distance. More review of their relationship is undoubtedly on its way, though. Today, Obama called on Blagojevich to resign, and he should.

The list goes on and on and on, like the Energizer Bunny. Of course, the big issue is whether Blagojevich was having an auction, selling to the highest bidder the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Obama. There are even rumors that the Governor toyed with appointing himself to the U.S. Senate in order to position himself for a White House run in 2016.

Fat chance!

Keep coming back to www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

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