Sunday, December 28, 2008

Corruption Crisis in Illinois

The "corruption crisis" in Illinois probably runs south of I-80.

Here is an article by the Peoria Journal Star emphasizing that what our Governor has touched may be tainted.

See comments that follow.

Corruption crisis creates confusion in Illinois

Associated Press
Posted Dec 27, 2008 @ 03:40 PM

Embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has made a point of regularly going to work at his office in Chicago. He has signed legislation and issued pardons. He has sent out press releases about predatory lending and fighting poverty.

But his arrest on federal corruption charges has clearly complicated his work as the state's chief executive and already cost the state some $20 million. The state is facing a potential $2.5 billion budget deficit and the governor doesn't have the same horsepower — or clout — to address the problem that he had just a month ago.

No one in the state capital trusts Blagojevich enough to give him authority to trim the budget on his own, as he requested in November. Any other idea he advances would probably be rejected out of hand. Yet no other official can take the lead.

"Everything just comes to a halt. You have complete paralysis," said House Republican Leader Tom Cross of Oswego.

Blagojevich, a second-term Democrat, was arrested Dec. 9 on charges accusing him of scheming to swap President-elect Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat for profit, shaking down a hospital executive for campaign donations and other wrongdoing.

The governor has defiantly insisted he's done nothing wrong and that he will not resign. His aides say he is going about business as usual.

His chief of staff, who was arrested along with Blagojevich, has resigned and been replaced by a deputy governor. Another deputy, one with a background in budget matters, has resigned and may not be replaced. Plus, a committee is expected to recommend in early January whether the state House should vote to impeach Blagojevich.

"I think it's difficult for him to manage government in the way a governor normally would," said state Rep. Gary Hannig, a Democrat from Litchfield. "This is a time when you need strong leadership from the governor's office."

The state must find a way to eliminate its deficit. If nothing is done, the most likely outcome is that it won't pay its debts to hospitals, pharmacies and nursing homes that care for the poor, forcing more of them out of business.

The problem cropped up two weeks ago when an effort to borrow money to pay overdue bills — one social-service vendor was owed $8 million and garbage collection stopped for 10 days at a state prison last month — was sidelined because the state attorney general's office refused to give immediate consent.

The delay — blamed on the governor's legal woes — cost Illinois $20 million in extra interest, according to Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias. Because the short-term borrowing plan was put off for several days after Blagojevich's arrest, the state ended up paying higher interest rates.

Standard & Poor's recently put out a negative "credit watch" on the state's AA bond rating, noting the budget deficit and the governor's legal situation could hamper efforts to find a remedy.

The governor's budget director declined an interview request. Blagojevich spokesman Lucio Guerrero said the governor is expected to soon get an update on the budget deficit — including potential solutions — from his staff.

"I think the governor has shown that he continues to govern the state and is performing his duties," he said.

Critics acknowledge that government will grind on despite Blagojevich's problems. State police will patrol. The Revenue Department will collect taxes. Snowplow crews will clear highways.

But when an emergency hits, Illinois will lack a real leader to solve the problem and smaller problems may pile up in the meantime.

Will Blagojevich be able to find people willing to serve under him on the boards and commissions that help set policy? Would those appointments even be approved? Can he hold on to his current staff and agency directors? If he delivers a State of the State address, will anyone even attend, let alone seriously consider his proposals?

"Everything he touches is tainted," said Jay Stewart, executive director of the Better Government Association in Chicago. "We know his thought process: Legal, personal, political. I don't see public interest anywhere in that."

Blagojevich won't be able to call on federal officials for help, even though Obama and some top officials in his incoming administration are from Illinois and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., is the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate.

And though Obama plans a huge public works program next year, Illinois may not be in position to get its share. State officials have failed year after year to approve construction money that would qualify for federal matching funds. That appears unlikely to change.

Some of the governor's critics say his new problems actually won't mean a dramatic change for Illinois because he wasn't trusted or deeply involved in government even before his arrest.

"We've been leaderless for a long time," said Sen. Christine Radogno, R-Lemont. "Consequently, our state is floundering."
Associated Press Writers John O'Connor in Springfield and Deanna Bellandi in Chicago contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2008 GateHouse Media, Inc. Some Rights Reserved.
Original content available for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons license, except where noted.



In 2007 the Illinois Finance Authority (IFA) under Governor Blagojevich loaned OSF-Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria 460 million dollars for OSF's Milestone Project. This was the second largest loan in IFA history.

I wonder if this loan was tainted?

John A. Carroll, M.D.



Blagojevich is the governor until he is convicted or impeached. If any problems are arising it's from Legislature and the other government officials. Business as usual until this is settled, anyone refusing to work with him should be relieved of duties. At present the Legislature is busy putting back all the cuts despite the fact we can't pay for essentials. That is how we got in this mess and we will remain there as long as the same thieves are in the General Assembly. The governor got caught, but don't think for a minute he is the biggest crook. He had problems with members of legislature because he wouldn't co-operate with their brand of self help. All government is corrupt that is how business is handled. No state has wiped out corruption their elected officials just learned how to be more discrete. Every now and then one gets careless like the stupid move he made using his home phone.

Dr. Carroll..I do agree with you and your view of OSF. I doubt the money is tainted from Blagojevich. That would more come from some back scratching in our local area. The governor may have signed the necessary legislation, the crafting of it probably is closer to home. I thought OSF planned on fleecing the general public out of donations for their huge project. We both know the non-profit hospital is just a feeder for their many for profit enterprises. At least it's a loan, at some point tax payers will get it back unless OSF can figure a way around that. I have nothing but respect for the hard working staff of OSF, their corporate officials have one interest and that is profit at the expense of the patient.

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