Donate to JWR

In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Dec. 10, 2008 / 13 Kislev 5769

A town with gangsters and hardball politics in a state where corruption often comes with a little extra zing to it

By Clarence Page

Printer Friendly Version
Email this article | A network news producer based in New York wanted to get my reaction to the arrest of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, except that she had a problem. She was reading the criminal complaint while she was trying to talk to me. She couldn't stop gasping.

"I'm sorry," she said. "This is ... unbelievable!"

That's OK, I assured her, "Take your time. I'm a Chicago journalist. I am accustomed to the unbelievable."

That's why I came to Chicago several decades ago. It was a great news town. It was a town with gangsters and hardball politics in a state where corruption often came with a little extra zing to it.

My colleagues from more sedate little towns like New York or Los Angeles sound shocked to hear that our Democratic governor has been arrested. For Chicagoans as jaded as me, the news is like the gambling in "Casablanca."

I arrived, for example, at about the time in 1970 that Paul Powell, a former state speaker of the house and secretary of state, was found after his death to have hundreds of thousands of dollars in embezzled cash stashed in shoe boxes in a hotel room. Most recently, our former Republican Gov. George Ryan has been serving a 6 1/2 year stretch in federal prison for fraud and racketeering.

We've had more than four years of scandalous headlines tied to our current governor or his associates. The stories include 13 indictments or convictions related to illegal kickbacks, sweetheart contract deals and shady hiring practices.

So there was a sense of the other shoe dropping when the feds came for the governor. I was shocked not so much by the allegations of criminal conduct against Blago as by the audacity in the details, including the absence in the allegations of any apparent realization that he might get caught.

U.S. Atty. Patrick J. Fitzgerald, bolstering his reputation as a modern-day Eliot Ness, says the governor treated his office like a personal ATM machine. The charges include conspiracy to in effect sell President-elect Barack Obama's Senate seat to the highest bidder. He hoped to parlay the offer into a possible ambassador's post, secretary of Health and Human Services or some high-paying job in a nonprofit or an organization connected to labor unions, prosecutors said.

He also tried to gain promises of money for his campaign fund, the feds said, and suggested that his wife could be placed on corporate boards where she might earn $100,000 or more.

But while reading the 76-page criminal complaint, I almost spit out my morning coffee when I saw that Blagojevich allegedly tried to shake down owners of the newspaper where I work -- and in connection with the editorial board of which I am a member.

In exchange for state assistance with the sale of Wrigley Field, according to Fitzgerald, Blagojevich wanted the firing of members of the Tribune's editorial board who had criticized him. Didn't anybody tell Blago the old line about how you don't make an enemy out of people who buy ink by the barrel? Nothing should delight an editorial writer more than the knowledge that he or she has been a burr under the saddle of the brazenly corrupt.

Yet if the charges are true, years of scandalous stories, scathing editorials and a record low approval rating of 13 percent in a recent Tribune poll barely slowed the governor down. Most of the allegations occurred in the past few months, as if almost four years of known federal scrutiny actually had made him more flamboyant in his excesses.

How much impact will the governor's troubles have on President-elect Obama? Probably not much. Fitzgerald did Obama the large favor of noting in his news conference that, "We make no allegations that he (Obama) was aware of anything."

It was also fortunate for Obama that this story broke after the election. The campaign of Sen. John McCain, who made a crack during a presidential debate about not taking ethical advice from a "Chicago politician," might well have gone wild with guilt-by-association charges against Obama's party affiliation with Blagojevich.

But from the Chicago point of view, Obama and Blagojevich occupy two opposing worlds of Democratic politics that work together out of convenience. Obama launched his political career among the Hyde Park and Lakefront independents. Blago came straight out of what's left of Chicago's old Bungalow Belt machine.

It is not uncommon to build winning coalitions in Illinois politics by making friends or, at least, neutralizing your rivals in both factions. Blagojevich's troubles will test how well Obama kept his own hands clean on his way up, even as Blago was slipping down.

Every weekday publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Comment on Clarence Page's column by clicking here.


© 2007, TMS