Normally I'm not this unctuous, but I think I'm overdue for a political rant:
Even though it was a month ago, I'm still irked by the Blagojevich verdict. The only that could've been worse than this was if he was completely acquitted. It's one thing to have a serious mistrust in the powers that be here in Illinois, but now I'm especially discouraged by the people that vote for them as well (or sit on their juries, anyway). The one holdout juror claimed that she "voted from her heart" and wasn't convinced that Blago was entirely guilty of most of the charges --even though the other jurors thought this was an open and shut case-- which either says she's an incredibly patient women or just gullible to the ex-governor's charms. Regardless, because of this woman the jury spent two weeks in gridlock, and the state of Illinois is facing an expensive retrial that is A) wholly unnecessary and B) even less likely to bring Blagojevich to justice.
While Blago's retrial looms, our previous corrupt governor is making another attempt at early release. For the unitiated, George Ryan was Blago's immediate predecessor; he was probably just as corrupt but not even remotely as charismatic or media-friendly. Where the metropolitian Blago mugged for the cameras, Ryan was ornery, homespun, humorless, and as transparent as pea soup. Ryan is currently serving out a 6 1/2 year sentence in Indiana for selling driver's licenses to unqualified truck drivers in exchange for "contributions" during his stint as Secretary of State. Past attempts to delay jail time or shorten his sentence in the U.S. Court of Appeals have failed, citing "overwhelming guilt." His complex and far-reaching license-for-bribes scheme tattered and gutted the Illinois GOP to a degree that some still wonder if the party will ever recover. A third ex-governor of ours, James Thompson, has led a pro bono legal crusade to get his friend and onetime second-in-command paroled, which may lead to another date with Court of Appeals. Thompson has gone so far as to dangle Ryan's sickly wife around in a feeble stab at garnering sympathy for a feckless political insider. Suffice to say, I have been less sympathy for Ryan than I do Blagojevich, and anything short of finishing his full sentence would be a slap in the face to the state that he conned and betrayed.
On a semi-related note, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley dropped a bombshell last week when he announced that he would not run for a seventh term. This is a tragedy of sorts, as there was so much of the city that he never got around to selling. (But seriously...) Daley claimed that he'd been mulling retirement after 22 years in office, though one would argue that his plummeting approval rating --38% as of last week-- made it clear that his time had come and gone. In the eyes of his critics, Hizzoner Jr's downfall was the 2016 Olympics debacle, a big money flush for a city and state that obviously can't afford risky and/or frivolous expendatures. I won't deny that he's done some good for the city these past two decades, though he seldom stepped out of his father's long shadow.
Is the Land of Lincoln in a state of flux? Oh God, yes. The next year will be (more likely than not) an all-around changing of the guard within the most powerful houses in Illinois politics. That's not to say, however, that these new options bear much promise. In the governor's race, we have our doddering, indecisive Lt. Governor running against a dog-killing white trash millionaire, a wife-beating pawn shop owner, and a far left-leaning civil rights attorney that wants to raise taxes and legalize marijuana. That's not a roster of candidates so much as its a list of characters on a bad sitcom. If you go on Wikipedia, all four of their entries have mostly negative or unsavory character traits. To sum up: Election Day in Illinois will be like going to the candy store and discovering all they sell is Zagnuts, Nut Milks, Smarties, and Whoppers. The Chicago mayor's office is officially up for grabs, though U.S. Rep. Danny Davis has expressed interest in running and seems to be a local favorite (sorry, Rahm). There's a taste for change in Illinois, but the only aroma we smell is gas.