No One Believes Me

Blagojevich is going to run again.

Outside of Springfield and pretty tight political circles everyone laughs when I tell him he’s gearing up for another cycle. It’s not a secret in Springfield, but people cannot believe he’s that disconnected from reality to think he can win.   He is.  He just told everyone.

Now it’s time to beat him.

To Clarify on the Banana Republic

I think the chances of it are very slim or none.  The conditions for it in 1981 included a closely split Illinois Senate and a Governor of the other party.  The Senate Dems currently have a veto proof majority and are expected to hold that if not build a bit on it with Obama on the fall ballot.

Just today, it would take 8 Democrats to switch and in 1981, that wasn’t the case.  The only reason the Republicans could pull it off was that there were two absent Democrats in a Senate divided 30-29 and Thompson gave a questionable ruling that it wasn’t a Constitutional majority that was required, but a majority present.  As Rich notes, the current Senate rules require a Constitutional majority (30 votes).

One other time it happened, but I don’t know the history on that.

My sense is that Blagojevich will try and find a way to install a friendly Senate President in some sort of move, but that he’ll fail.  Much of his own party hates him and the Republicans hate him even more in the Senate.  Hence, my point that he is delusional, but you can bet he’s trying to come up with some outrageous scenario in his head–something out of sport talk radio where the Cubs offer up Dempsey and a player to be named later for Johan Santana.

He’s Insane

Latest Evidence:

Blagojevich said Thursday he’s considering ordering lawmakers back to the Capitol in September and keeping them there until they fix education funding – a move that most believe would require some kind of tax increase.

The catch is Blagojevich would then veto any such increase.

“If it increases income taxes, yeah,” said spokesman Lucio Guerrero. “Any kind of taxes.”

Apparently he wants the Lege to pass a bill mandating a state magical money tree.

Teh Taxes, Teh House, TEH MADIGAN!

… to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee.

Dude, Madigan isn’t a white whale. Give it up.


Rich has the latest eruption from Governor Ahab.

“Here’s another thing that Mr. Madigan keeps killing every year, and that’s fundamental education funding reform. There are several ways to invest millions and millions of new dollars in or schools and solve the school funding issue without raising taxes on people. And we’ve tried for six years to get Mr. Madigan and the House Democrats to properly fund our schools.”

And as Rich says, Patterson nails it:

But that’s part of the point here. Blagojevich gets to champion his efforts to expand health care, even if few of them ever result in success. And if his plan is blocked by the House, even for legit reasons, he gets to bang on Madigan, his chief political rival.

All of this misses one important point: because of today’s actions, there’s the very real chance that next year a college student will be diagnosed with cancer, catastrophically injured in a car crash, or suffer some other ruinous medical condition, have to leave school and, as a result, lose insurance coverage that would have been guaranteed if the state’s Democrats could just get along for five minutes.

More to the point, and as Rich points out in comments over at his place, the Governor is running around amendatory vetoing bills after being absent during the session.  If he was this concerned with the bills, he could have easily been in Springfield helping to shape legislation.

This is just another reason no one trusts him.

That’s a Good Thing?

From comments over at Rich’s

The Governor is one smart cookie. He is finally using all the power the Illinois Constitution gives him to create and administer the programs he wants for this state. Rewrite to Do Right is a stroke of genius. The Governor knows that the Senate President has got his back and he knows the judicial process is so excrutiatingly slow that whatever he does has little consequence for him.

This is about the level of Rod’s understanding of the Illinois Constitution.  The Amendatory Veto doesn’t give the Governor the sole power to create a program and administer it, it allows a Governor to initiate legislative changes and have the Lege concur with a majority vote, override with a 3/5 vote or let the bill die.

In a strict sense it’s not a typical Executive power, but it’s far from a unilateral power.  The Governor’s campaign (and what the hell else does he do,but campaign) is an effort to try and blame the Legislature for poison pills he inserts into bills and tries to blame them for not passing his changes.  It’s transparent, juvenile, and will only exacerbate the problems.

Furthermore, the quote illustrates the same kind of irresponsible behavior we see in DC where the Executive does something regardless of the legality and then assumes the courts will take too long to fix it.  The problem is the Lege here and in DC seem to think impeachment is too hard….

Coffee is For Closers

NSFWork

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/y-AXTx4PcKI" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

In the post below, I brought up Hynes’ response to the Governor and the Leaders:

He said the General Assembly could build in safeguards, as well as checks and balances, if that mistrust is the reason for the failure to approve a capital spending bill.
“Distrust can’t be used as an excuse,” he said.

He just walked back on what could have been a statewide story with him owning several newscycles with his tour.

As I’ve said before:

et me issue a challenge to Hynes on this. Dan is a good public servant, competent, steady, able. But he never takes that next step to lead and stand out. This is his chance. Connecting the dots on the state’s fiscal condition and the corruption and mismanagement of this administration is tailor made for him. This is a good start, but pound it and pound it and pound it.

There is no more need to pretend that anyone has to work with this guy, Blagojevich is on his way out whether he realizes it yet or not. Hynes has always been seen as too cautious which isn’t a bad characteristic in a public official dealing with the state’s fiscal condition, but it doesn’t move you up the ladder.

It was clear that in November the Lege could have impeached him for violating the Constitution and I urged them to do so then, but now we have boring corruption reasons to do so and it’s not a hard case to make to the public now.  Let’s get this over with….

Dan Hynes will never be Governor until he learns to throw a punch and not help the guy get up off the floor.  He’s a good public servant and a decent human being, but if he wants the Governor’s office, he has to take it for himself.

Inane Editorial of the Day

And it’s not even by Dold.  The Sun-Times blasts Madigan for not sitting down with the Governor:

We know Blagojevich isn’t the best partner. His penchant for demonizing, his bad habit of circumventing the legislative process, his unyielding thirst for a splashy headline have endeared few.

But Blagojevich is reaching out to Madigan and has been doing so for at least the last two months.

Yeah, reaching out like

* If you want to know how the rest of the year is going to go, just check out this Gov. Blagojevich quote that John Patterson pulled from yesterday’s press conference

“I think there’s great cause to be concerned. If Speaker Madigan and the House leadership pick up a veto-proof majority … then they’ll be in a position to easily override a veto.”

As Patterson notes, “That sounds an awful lot like the Democratic governor is urging voters to shun Democrats this fall so his intraparty rival – Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan — doesn’t get any stronger.”

The governor’s obvious intent was to shift the blame for these and other impending cuts to Madigan, which Madigan doesn’t appear too concerned about. It’s unlikely they’ll be coming back to Springfield to take any action, Madigan’s lieutenants told the media.

* The Governor is continuing to gear up his PR blitz on the disastrous impact of budget cuts:

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s administration is escalating its public-relations blitz for more state budget money, pressing legislators directly and through the media to approve $1.5 billion in new revenue sources –- and warning that everything from Amtrak riders to AIDS patients will suffer debilitating budget cuts if they don’t.

“The House . . . (should) come back and finish what they started,’’ Deputy Gov. Bob Greenlee said today in a conference call with the Post-Dispatch editorial page. It was one of several such meetings administration officials are conducting this week around the state with newspapers, social agency heads and lawmakers themselves, in an attempt to pressure the Legislature into providing more money to the budget.

In newspaper meetings, and in an unusual mass conference call with lawmakers yesterday, Greenlee pressed House Dems to rethink their opposition to those revenue sources.

* Nobody wants to talk to the press, but they’re still ginning up the hatred. Check out a couple of photos from yesterday’s protest rally. Gee, I wonder who might’ve sponsored these guys?…

* Somebody finally notices, but he buries it way down so nobody else will likely notice

With all of the budget folderol from last week, it’s worth remembering that back in May, the House passed another budget that didn’t increase spending nearly as much as the one that landed on Blagojevich’s desk. However, it was never called for a vote in the Senate, so that was that.

Basically, this budget mess didn’t have to be this way.

Blagojevich has demonstrated time and time again he cannot be trusted. He has tried to dismantle JCAR, he tried to implement health care expansion without legislative approval, and he specific to the capital bill, he has routinely targeted House member initiatives as pork while leaving Republican House and Senate Democratic initiatives in place.

Madigan allowing Curry to represent him is probably the best thing he can do.  It keeps the personalities at bay in the room and allows them get down to business.   I have plenty of complaints about Mike Madigan, but blaming him for Rod Blagojevich isn’t one of those complaints.

And via Rich:

Hynes in the Galesburg Register Mail

While Gov. Rod Blagojevich has come under fire for seemingly not wanting to work with the Legislature, Hynes admitted that the budget passed by the House, which was $2 billion out of balance, put the governor on the hot seat. He maintained, however, that Blagojevich has brought on many of the problems through his own actions.

“I do think the governor wasn’t given very many attractive options,” Hynes said during a visit with a reporter and three members of the editorial board of The Register-Mail. “But, this whole environment was created by him. They’re trying to make him look bad, he’s trying to make them look bad. Unfortunately, the victims are innocent.

“The cuts that he made, they are deep and they are harmful. I think he was making a point” that these weren’t going to be minor changes, Hynes said. As a result, he said, many people depending on social services are left without the help they need.

===============

“To just basically say, ‘We’re going to have this massive gambling expansion in the city of Chicago’ without discussing it with the mayor … I think he (Blagojevich) has made missteps,” Hynes said.

He said the problems run deep. Of the Legislature, he said, “They just do not trust this governor. I think they have reason not to trust him. I don’t trust him, but you have to get past that.”

He said the General Assembly could build in safeguards, as well as checks and balances, if that mistrust is the reason for the failure to approve a capital spending bill.

“Distrust can’t be used as an excuse,” he said.

The problem with this is that the Governor has refused to accept those institutions we have to overcome distrust.  JCAR is a perfect example.  It’s designed to allow the Executive to make rules while giving the Legislature some power if he goes too far.  What happened to that institution? The Governor insists it’s unconstitutional after expanding it.   The Governor has systematically undermined the institutions of state government and now people are trying to blame Madigan for that.  That’s rich.  The funny thing is that many of Madigan’s members are more angry than Madigan himself.

More on Jackson and Blagojevich

Apparently the June 2006 meeting shouldn’t have been surprising to Jackson since:

Finally, Jackson said he spoke with Gov,. Blagojevich today, during which time the Governor proposed creating a gubernatorial-appointed commission to oversee development of the airport. Jackson said he rejected the concept, noting that the two private development firms who are willing to finance the project are under an exclusive contract with ALNAC.

“The State brings $75 million worth of land. ALNAC and its developers bring $200 million to finance construction of the airport. The airport commission should reflect the interests of both the State and ALNAC,” Jackson said. “ALNAC has agreed to give the governor four appointments on its nine-member board. That seems fair and equitable.”

This was before the 5th slot was given to the Governor a few months later according to the ALNAC proposal.

You might think listening to Jackson and reading Bryant that it was out of nowhere that a commission with Gubernatorial appointments were brought up.  Actually, Jackson had proposed it and had been negotiating with the Governor for months before a Rezko meeting took place…

Case In Point

Also Via Rich

That whole abuse of power thingy

As you may already know, last month JCAR blocked a rule change proposed by Governor Blagojevich that would have allowed him to immediately expand the eligibility for government-funded health-insurance programs. Health insurance is the governor’s top priority, and he had previously claimed the right to veto spending from one part of the state budget and spend it on expanding health care, which would be unconstitutional, but that’s another story.

After the committee blocked the rules, Blagojevich ordered his agency directors to proceed as though JCAR actually approved the rule.

The governor then sent his press office out to tell reporters that JCAR was unconstitutional and didn’t have the authority to block his new idea – even though Blagojevich signed that aforementioned law that allowed JCAR to do just that.

The governor’s move caused quite an uproar. His tendency to ignore the Constitution, his stubborn refusal to take “no” for an answer from large bipartisan majorities in the General Assembly, his blatant abuse of his powers to call special legislative sessions (he’s called more than all modern governors combined), and his hypocritical lawsuits against the House speaker over, of all things, constitutional issues, had already rankled legislators to no end.

Blagojevich is Illinois’s Bush. Impeach him, impeach him now.

Mark has a Point

 

Mark Johnson wonders what Morgenthaller knew about Rezko’s training biz:

With yesterday’s announcement that Tony Rezko is guilty of 16 counts in his corruption trial, it is time for Jill Morgenthaler to start answering questions. Morgenthaler, candidate for IL-06, was a senior advisor to the Blagojevich administration and was the one who helped find a location for Rezko’s company to train Iraqi police forces.
 
The Chicago Sun Times wrote:  
 
“As Frawley [Rezko’s buisness partner] sought to revive the contract in spring 2006, Blagojevich’s chief of staff, John Harris, directed the state’s homeland security adviser, Jill Morgenthaler, to find "a military site for the training of Iraqi police forces,” Morgenthaler wrote in an April 26, 2006, e-mail. She wrote the letter in June 2006 offering the Savanna site.” (Chicago Sun Times, August 7, 2007)

So the tough question for Morgenthaler is…….
 
How much did Morgenthaler know about Frawley and Rezko and the contract when she was doing Blagojevich’s bidding?

The answer is probably not much.  Blagojevich tended to keep the politics to himself and tell people to do stuff.  It’s still legitimate to ask.

What the Ata Plea Tells Us

Rereading the Ata plea tells us a whole lot about how business was done in the Blagojevich administration. Strictly speaking there isn’t a smoking gun for the Governor, though there is a lot of circumstantial evidence and the meeting at Rezmar Offices reads like a bad movie plot.

It does shed light on Rezko’s use of the administration as his personal playtoy. He attempted to manipulate Ata into providing IFA funds to his pizza business.

Later that year, Rezko approached the defendant for additional monetary support.
Defendant Ata agreed to contribute $25,000 in additional monies to the campaign of Public Official A.  The defendant, subsequently and by prior arrangement with Rezko, brought a check in this amount to Rezko’s Rezmar offices on Elston Avenue in Chicago.  After he arrived at the Rezmar offices, the defendant was greeted by Rezko to whom he handed the check in an envelope.  Rezko, carrying the check, ushered the defendant into a conference room where he met with Rezko and Public Official A.  Rezko placed the envelope containing the defendant’s $25,000 check to Public Official A’s campaign on the conference room table between himself and Public Official A and stated to Public Official A that the defendant had been a good supporter and a team player and that the defendant would be willing to join Public Official A’s administration.  Public Official A expressed his pleasure and acknowledged that the defendant had been a good supporter and good friend.  Public Official A, in the defendant’s presence, asked Rezko if he (Rezko) had talked to the defendant about positions in the administration, and Rezko responded that he had.

Reading further, it’s clear that whether the Governor knew what was going on or not, Rezko had set himself up to control particular appointments and use that leverage for personal gain.  Not only that, but Rezko weaseled his way into Ata’s LLC by promising the continuation of a state lease.

What some have brought up is that this is simply the Governor accepting a contribution from an ally and then giving an ally a job.  The concern being that Fitzgerald is criminalizing politics, but I think the above goes a lot further.  It’s clear that Ata is claiming he bribed and was coerced by Rezko for official state favors and a job.  Assuming that’s true, the only question remaining if one assumes Ata is telling the truth, is whether Blagojevich knew or was involved in the process.

That such a question is a legitimate question means impeachment hearings are the responsible action.  Molaro tried to say that it was the Fed’s job to investigate potential wrongdoing, but that is what I found to be the most obnoxious claim.   It’s the Fed’s job to search for criminal wrongdoing, it’s the Legislature’s job to determine if the State Government is being used in a scheme for personal gain and as candidate’s machine.

More to the point, even if Blagojevich wasn’t directly involved criminally, that does  not mean impeachment is an unreasonable solution to what has happened under him.  Turning over agencies to a political ally who then used it to benefit himself and sold state positions, fits in that category of incompetence that cannot be left in place.

The defense of Blagojevich comes down to gross incompetence over corruption.  Not the position any public official wants to be in.

The Attack of the Hacks

Download Title (Kudos to WTTW going to embeddable video!)

Via Rich

Molaro actually argues the Lege’s job is to not investigate allegations of corruption in a WTTW panel with Ronen and Fritchey. Same stupid argument used to avoid any oversight of the Bush administration by Republicans. Congrats to Molaro and Ronen for matching the most hypocritical and corrupt administration in national politics by defending the most corrupt and hypocritical administration at the state level.

It’s not news that Lege Members say stupid things, however, it’s news that they go on TV and back a guy somewhere between 13-20 points approval who was just named as selling jobs for campaign donations.

Bonus chutzpah in attacking Franks’ ethics while he isn’t there and did nothing comparable and then calling on Fritchey for being hypocritical because he didn’t back some bill by Ronen in the past.

There should be some shame amongst Democrats to not do their best impersonations of John Boehner and Mitch McConnell.

Franks and Fritchey Looking at Impeachment Bill

Blagojevich quotes Hank Williams 

Two House Democrats said discussions on a possible impeachment resolution targeting Blagojevich accelerated after Tuesday’s disclosure by Ali Ata, whom the governor appointed to a $127,000-a-year post running the Illinois Finance Authority.

In his surprise guilty plea to federal corruption charges, Ata said he gave two $25,000 campaign contributions to the governor and then got Blagojevich’s assurance of landing a state job in which Ata “could make some money.” Ata is expected to testify against indicted former Blagojevich fund-raiser Tony Rezko.

State Rep. Jack Franks (D-Woodstock) and Rep. John Fritchey (D-Chicago) said a decision on impeachment could come within two weeks.

“We now find ourselves in a very different environment, where an individual has pled guilty to being a co-conspirator in transactions involving the governor,” Fritchey said. “Can state government be effectively led by a governor who is apparently at the center of some very significant allegations of wrongdoing?”

Blagojevich surfaced Wednesday at a Springfield prayer breakfast that was not disclosed by his staff. In an eight-minute speech, the governor did not address Ata. But, perhaps offering a glimpse into his current mind-set, Blagojevich closed by invoking the lyrics of an obscure, 1950s Hank Williams song, “Men with Broken Hearts.”

” ‘You never stood in that man’s shoes or saw things through his eyes or watched with helpless hands while the heart inside you dies,’ ” Blagojevich said. ” ‘So help your brother along the way no matter where he starts because the same God that made you made him too, these men with broken hearts.'”

And the Wall Starts to Crumble

Dan Hynes blasts the Governor

Let me issue a challenge to Hynes on this. Dan is a good public servant, competent, steady, able. But he never takes that next step to lead and stand out. This is his chance. Connecting the dots on the state’s fiscal condition and the corruption and mismanagement of this administration is tailor made for him. This is a good start, but pound it and pound it and pound it.

There is no more need to pretend that anyone has to work with this guy, Blagojevich is on his way out whether he realizes it yet or not. Hynes has always been seen as too cautious which isn’t a bad characteristic in a public official dealing with the state’s fiscal condition, but it doesn’t move you up the ladder.

It was clear that in November the Lege could have impeached him for violating the Constitution and I urged them to do so then, but now we have boring corruption reasons to do so and it’s not a hard case to make to the public now.  Let’s get this over with….

Can We Impeach Him Now?

The man is a scourge on state government and this pussyfooting around about a recall is silly. There are ample grounds to start impeachment hearings against Blagojevich now.


Blagojevich was also initially identified as “Public Official A” in the separate corruption case against Rezko. The judge in that case eventually identified “Public Official A” as Blagojevich, and the governor’s name has repeatedly come up in testimony at the trial.

In the plea agreement, Ata said he met with Rezko and Public Official A at Rezko’s Chicago offices and gave them a $25,000 check.

“Public Official A expressed his pleasure and acknowledged that the defendant had been a good supporter and a good friend,” the agreement said. “Public Official A, in the defendant’s presence, asked Rezko if [Rezko] had talked to the defendant about positions in the administration, and Rezko responded that he had.”

According to the plea agreement, Ata was interviewed in December 2005 and falsely told agents that he was not aware of any role Rezko had played in his appointment. He also falsely claimed that he got nothing in return for donations to Public Official A.

“Defendant then knew such statement and representation was false, namely, that in fact he did receive something for those contributions, specifically employment with a state agency,” the plea agreement said.

According to the document, Ata met with Public Official A in 2000 or 2001, and Ata agreed to support Public Official A in a run for higher office.

“Thereafter, defendant Ali Ata observed that Antoin Rezko was close to Public Official A and was very involved in fundraising for Public Official A’s campaign, including overseeing defendant Ali Ata’s own fundraising efforts on behalf of Public Official A,” the plea agreement said.

As early as 2002, the document said, Rezko was speaking to Ata about a state job should the candidate be elected.

In August 2002, Ata held a small fundraising event for Public Official A that the candidate attended. Before the event, Ata said he promised Rezko the fundraiser would generate $25,000 for Public Official A, and it did. Ata said $5,000 of the goal came out of his own pocket.

This isn’t even at issue in the current Rezko trial.  Cal and I agree on this and that’s not your typical day where we agree on much.   

Madigan should move to impeachment and put Jones on the spot to do it.  No one can walk away from this without suffering at the polls.