Monday, December 15, 2008

The most corrupt time of the year

Blagojevich Lt. Governor is not the great hope
Once believed champion of citizens rights is smelling the power

For over three decades, Illinois Lt. Governor Pat Quinn has been a leading advocate of citizen empowerment. That's why when Gov. Rob Blagojevich was arrested last week, I smiled at the thought of Quinn replacing Blagojevich as he most certainly will resign or be impeached from office. Unfortunately that new found hope quickly vanished as Quinn began acting like a typical power hungry Cook County politician.

This whole ordeal started because Blagojevich allegedly was trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat recently vacated by President-elect Obama. With pay to play schemes tainting the governor's ability to appoint a new senator, the majority of political leaders in Illinois agree that a special election should be held to fill the position. Quinn uncharacteristically does not.

Last Wednesday Quinn, a self-professed populist, advocated a special election. However in his own words, "I've had to reflect on that in the last couple of days," suddenly believes the governor should be immediately impeached and he should decide, not the people, who should represent Illinois in the senate.

Quinn's power grab may not be surprising to most voters. In Illinois, especially Cook County, the average citizen expects such behavior from their representatives. They campaign against machine politics and once elected become a valve in the engine. Quinn was supposed to be different.

Quinn has been a leading advocate for voter initiatives, public referendums, constitutional convention and voter recall of public officials. That is why when Illinois needs him most to lead by example and implement ideas that empower people, his about-face is so disheartening.

Maybe I shouldn't be so surprised. He is a Democrat from Cook County, which some would argue means you were born with a three-dollar bill in your mouth. Or at least you owed someone a political favor once you came out of the womb.

Could Quinn himself be afraid of something?

When he served as Illinois State Treasurer in the early 1990's, his office helped convicted felon Anton "Tony" Rezko obtain $875,000 in loans for a housing project. Quinn has also received nearly $20,000 in contributions from Rezko, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The so-called champion of the people has been an adamant defender of his indicted boss, even after it was publicly announced that Blagojevich was the subject of numerous federal investigations.

“He’s [Blagojevich] always been a person who’s honest and one of integrity…I have confidence the governor does the right thing all the time,” Quinn told the Daily Herald in October of 2006.

The above comment was also made after it was revealed that Blago's seven-year old daughter received a $1500 check as a gift from a man whose wife obtained a state job. Hello...anyone home?

As a strong proponent of transparent and accountable government, as well as empowering the electorate, I have always viewed in Quinn in a positive light. He may be a big liberal, but he was an honest one and that is hard to find in Cook County.

But has that changed or was it even there to begin with?

I don't know anymore.

What I do know is that Quinn can taste power. Power corrupts and he may be enjoying the flavor to much to share with the people.



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