Nearly a year ago, the first trial of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich opened amid much fanfare, with Illinoisans riveted to coverage of the “golden” wiretaps and hopes still alive for ethics reform.
His retrial has seemed almost anticlimactic. There are no bombshells to be dropped, just a feeling that we have heard it all before.
Perhaps as the prosecution’s case nears its conclusion and speculation grows on whether Blagojevich will testify this time around, there will be resurgence in interest.
But more than resurgence in interest in the Blagojevich trial, this state needs resurgence in interest in ethics reform and politicians who put the people first — not special interests or their personal interests or their interests in getting re-elected.
Illinoisans cannot allow themselves to be jaded and complacent after the corruption trials of two governors in a row —Blagojevich and George Ryan.
The conduct of those two governors might lead many to believe that the wheeling and dealing of which they were and are accused is “politics as usual.” But the public shouldn’t give in to cynicism. That lets too many crooked politicians off the hook and discourages honest people from getting involved in government — or even voting.
Speaking of voting, it will be interesting to see the redistricting maps that are to be released soon.
Will they represent an impartial effort to group voters together according to common concerns and backgrounds, geography and existing political boundaries, or will they be designed to favor one party over another? Will maps be designed to let voters pick their representatives — or incumbents pick their voters? We will address that matter in greater depth in a separate editorial.
And, as you read about those wiretaps in the federal Blagojevich trial, remember that state lawmakers have yet to give judges the power to authorize wiretaps in state political-corruption cases.
A few reforms have been instituted to block the pay-to-play politics that are a focus of the Blagojevich trial.
But there are still no limits on contributions by political parties and party leaders’ political action committees in the general election. Call it play-my-way politics.
As for the comprehensive citizen recall power recommended by the Illinois Reform Committee, it’s never made it beyond the drawing board.
Do you want to bet serious budget matters might be getting closer attention in Springfield if citizens had the right to recall lawmakers who aren’t doing their jobs?