At least I thought I voted for change, way back in 2002, when I cast my vote for Rod Blagojevich for governor.
George Ryan, the Republican governor who preceded Blagojevich, had left office under a cloud of suspicion (sending millions of dollars in state contracts to friends and family, granting truck driver’s licenses to unqualified drivers in return for cash.) He now sits in jail, waiting patiently for the early release that Illinois Senator Dick Durbin inexplicably seeks for him.
During his term as governor, Ryan had met with Fidel Castro and ended the death sentence in Illinois due to concerns that it was not administered fairly, an action led to his nomination for the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize. Yet he balanced a desire to help others with an insatiable greed. In 2006, he was convicted on multiple charges of corruption and has served less than two years of a six-year prison sentence.
In 2002, Blagojevich charged into the governor’s office waving the flag of reform. Yesterday, he was accused of committing acts of corruption that are astonishing in their reach – all involving “pay to play” schemes. Give me money – you can become the next Illinois Senator. Give me money, and you’ll get your $8 million grant to help sick kids. Fire the jerks on the editorial board who hate me and you’ll get bankruptcy protection money.
The trail of corruption in Illinois is long, crooked and has no end in sight. Right now, I’ll just hum a little Sam Cooke (who once called Illinois his home) to help me muster up the belief that “it’s a long – a long time coming, but I know that change’s gonna come.”
One can only hope.