Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Opponents react to reauthorized airport authority bill

The more things change, the more they stay the same; at least in eastern Will County.

Despite changes: Governor, Pat Quinn; State Sen. Toi Hutchinson; U.S. Rep. Debbie Halvorson; U.S. Sen. Roland Burris; and President Barack Obama; the recurring nightmare continues for landowners whose property was designated more than forty years ago as the location for a new airport.

Even with dire economic conditions, a state swimming in red ink, political turmoil, and no interest by airlines even when times were good, the state just can't let go of the project that has barely advanced in over forty years.

A new bill was introduced in Springfield Tuesday, Feb. 10 – SB 1346 — by Sen. A. J. Wilhelmi, D-Crest Hill, Toi Hutchinson, D-Chicago Heights, and Christine Radogno, R-Lemont; to establish the South Suburban Airport Authority.

The bill is similar to that which was proposed and propelled through the Senate last year by U.S. Rep. Debbie Halvorson, D-Crete who was then Senate Majority Leader. The bill died in the House, however.

If approved, the South Suburban Airport Authority would be created. It would consist of a 7 member board. Four would be appointed by the Will County Executive, with advice and consent of the county board. One would be a resident of Crete, Green Garden, Monee, Peotone, Washington or Will townships. The county executive also would name the board chairman.

One director would be appointed by the village presidents and trustees of Beecher, Crete, Monee, Peotone and University Park. The township supervisors and trustees of Bloom, Rich, Orland and Lemont townships would appoint another director.

The last director would be appointed by the chairman of the Kankakee County Board. Board members will be paid $10,000 annually for six-year terms.

If approved, the powers of the authority could commence as soon as July 1, 2010. The date was moved back by one year from the previous version of the legislation.

The authority states that it would serve as co-sponsor of the South Suburban Airport with the Illinois Dept. of Transportation (IDOT) until the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issues a Record of Decision (ROD) and an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) or until July 1, 2010, whichever is earlier.

At that time, according to the legislation, the authority shall enter into an agreement with IDOT to complete all ongoing projects, including the airport master plan. The authority would then assist the FAA with preparation of the EIS and ROD. When approved, the authority would serve as sponsor of the South Suburban Airport.

The authority would be responsible for preparing and publishing a map showing the airport's location. It shall show existing highways, property lines, and persons paying the most recent property taxes on land that will be needed for future additions.

If a map is filed with the county, landowners would be required to file a 60-day notice byregistered mail to the authority for alterations — even emergency repairs — on their property. The notice would be needed for all improvements in, upon, or under the land involved. They could not rebuild, alter, or add to an existing structure. After the notice, the Authority shall have 60 days after receipt of that notice to inform the owner of its intention to acquire all or part of the land involved; after which the Authority shall have the additional time of 120 days to acquire all or part of the land by purchase or to initiate action to acquire the land through the exercise of the power of eminent domain.

The authority will be responsible for all airport zoning, and will develop and enforce zoning regulations relative to airport hazards.

The legislation gives IDOT a green light to condemn property within the airport's inaugural boundary, "as quickly as possible," stating specifically "where acquisition is not voluntary."

And it isn't just the homeowners that live within the inaugural boundary in jeopardy. The Authority can, for a period of 10 years, control the land outside the inaugural airport boundary.

If the legislation is approved as written, most of the property in eastern Will County will be subject to restriction. For example, no property located within the ultimate airport footprint can change hands without receiving approval from the authority.

The bill assumes passage of an Eastern Will County Development District, which has not yet occurred.

If approved, the legislation makes the enacted authority the only entity authorized to develop, own, or operate the South Suburban Airport. It would supersede any local government, municipality, airport authority, or joint airport commission on that site.

The legislation is scheduled to take effect March 1, 2011.

The legislation is in direct competition with the effort by U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. to provide an airport authority for the airport he has named the Abraham Lincoln National Airport.

Both Jackson and Will County have been battling for years over governance of an airport void of proven need or federal approval.

George Ochsenfeld, president of STAND (Shut This Airport Nightmare Down) was astounded when he heard about another effort by legislators to establish an airport authority with broad, sweeping powers.

"It is absurd that they should waste time and energy on a project that doesn't have a prayer of happening," Ochsenfeld said, given the state of the airline industry and overall economic conditions.

He was surprised to learn that Sen. Christine Radogno, R-Lemont was one of the senators introducing the bill. He would like to remind her that she should heed her own pre-election survey that indicated the majority of people in Will County oppose a new airport.

And, about newly-appointed Sen. Toi Hutchinson, D-Chicago Heights, Ochsenfeld said he is extremely disappointed that she would push something like this without recognizing or consulting with the long held opposition expressed by a large part of her constituency. He wonders if she has even visited the airport site.

Ochsenfeld said this bill is extreme. It outlines plans for not just condemnation, but taking property "as quickly as possible."

He can't help but try to second-guess the motive for introducing the legislation to establish an airport authority.

He speculated that senators sympathetic to Will County could be simply trying to derail the efforts of U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. to build an airport outside his own district.

"If that is the case, we are tired of being the pawns in their corrupt political game," he said, expressing that there are better ways to stop Jackson and to stop the nightmare for eastern Will County residents at the same time.

"We had hope that a new administration would bring about change, yet it appears there is no change on the effort to continue funding the dysfunctional, ill-fated airport to nowhere," he said.

A similar perspective was echoed by landowner Jim Verduin, who has spent years involved in the struggle to protect his rural home.

"As usual our leaders are putting the cart before the horse," Verduin said. "This project is years away from any decision from the FAA, yet the three (potential) sponsors want to put huge restrictions on land use, zoning, and ownership not only for those living inside the inaugural footprint, but also the surrounding communities.

"Every municipality within 50 miles of this project should oppose this bill," Verduin said.

"I believe the main reason to propose this bill now is to stop Jesse Jackson and ALNAC from beating them to the punch. This is not reason enough for such a restrictive piece of legislation."
Enhanced by Zemanta

Thursday, February 12, 2009

More Peotone versus O'Hare

The curtain has been drawn on airport rhetoric recently. That is, at least until the potential for an influx of federal cash to aid the O'Hare Modernization program took center stage this week.

Now it is lights, camera, and action, as the U.S. Congress agrees on a $789 billion economic stimulus plan that could include funds for O'Hare.

While there is no proof that O'Hare funds did make it into the stimulus package as of this writing, it is known that Chicago Mayor Richard Daley flew to Washington, D.C. to lobby for the stimulus bill.

Daley was flanked by a host of Democratic leaders who pushed for Illinois' share of the stimulus package for myriad blue-collar workers. Daley's concerns include the CTA, community colleges, the park district, streetlights, and sewers.

Daley indicated, according to published reports, that $50 million would keep the O'Hare Modernization Plan on track. Without it, the program might fall behind the scheduled 2014 completion date, just two years before the 2016 Summer Olympics.

U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Chicago, who felt the stimulus bill should focus on job creation, was one of the House members who voted for the initial appropriation that would have included $30 billion for highway construction, $31 billion to modernize public infrastructure, $3 billion for airport improvements, and $10 billion for public transit and rail.

U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk, R-Chicago, who initially voted against the stimulus package as did other members of the Republican Party, suggested using all the money allotted to Illinois for O'Hare expansion.

As has been consistent during the past twenty years, whenever O'Hare funds are discussed, talk about Peotone cannot be far behind.

U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., was not among the Illinois delegation that favors using stimulus funds for O'Hare expansion. In fact Jackson specifically stated that no stimulus funds should be used for O'Hare.

Instead, Jackson claims Peotone is a better project and can be built without stimulus money.

He claims Peotone is a better alternative to adding 100,000 flights toIllinois, and that O'Hare expansion will cost $20 billion while Peotone will cost only $500 million. And he notes that Peotone would be built with money from private investors, not taxpayers.

With the exception of the constant massaging of pie-in-the-sky projections, little is available to back up Jackson's claims, however. Jackson never mentions that the Federal Aviation Administration has not approved building his pet project. His rants are silent about efforts by what would be the hosting county -- Will County -- to provide governance if an airport is built. Will County's plans are in direct competition with Jackson's self-appointed airport authority, the Abraham Lincoln National Airport Commission. And his arguments are void of discussion about the millions of dollars that additional infrastructure would cost to access an airport in a farm community with its one-lane network of country roads.

Jackson's voice is not alone. While he is the soloist, the real music comes from the backup chorus – the long-standing opponents of O'Hare expansion, including Bensenville President John Geils and Attorney Joseph Karaganis. The latest website devoted to O'Hare expansion opposition is Stop the O'Hare Modernization Program.http://www.stop-omp.org/

But when President Obama called for an economic stimulus package that would include "shovel-ready" projects that would create jobs, the O'Hare Modernization program fills the bill.

The stimulus package approved by the House was originally $819 billion. The Senate approved an $838 billion version of the bill. The two finally settled on a compromise of $789 billion.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

George Ryan's ups and downs for freedom

The road to justice has been a long and winding one – both for convicted Ex-Governor George Ryan and the people of Illinois whom he defrauded.

A serious blow came to Ryan when President George W. Bush exited the White House without granting clemency for Ryan, the man who chaired Bush's Illinois campaign for President in 2000. This was despite a plea to the Ex-President from Ryan's wife Lura Lynn. Even Illinois' senior senator, Dick Durbin and an-other beleaguered Ex-Governor, Rod Blagojevich, asked for Ryan's release from prison, sug-gesting that his sentence be satis-fied by time served.

Ryan has served one year of his six- and one-half-year sen-tence after being convicted for a litany of corruption charges.

But, expect a new string of support letters to once again head toward 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. on Ryan's behalf. Jim Thompson, another Ex-Governor who is also the high-powered attorney who fought to keep Ryan out of jail for as long as possible, says he will ask Presi-dent Barack Obama for clem-ency for his client.

Thompson told WBEZ radio recently that President Obama has known Ryan since the two worked together in Springfield for a time. Thompson is prepar-ing a new application using the argument that Ryan's continued imprisonment doesn't appear to have deterred other politicians from corrupt activities.


In conjunction with Ryan's 2006 conviction, he was stripped of his pension. It amounted to about $197,000 annually.

But the appellate court over-turned the circuit court, ruling earlier this month stating that Ryan could retain the pension he earned from public service prior to his terms as Secretary of State and Governor.

Ryan had also served in the state legislature and as lieutenant governor. According to the high court, he is entitled to keep about $65,000 annually.

But Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who was the first to argue that Ryan should not receive any of his pension, plans to appeal the decision.

At the time of his conviction, she issued a detailed opinion that the convicted felon should be stripped of his pension benefits.

Cook County Circuit Judge Martin Agran agreed with her. He upheld the unanimous ruling of the General Assembly Re-tirement System board that voted to deny Ryan his annual pension.

Madigan said at the time that Ryan forfeited all of his pension benefits, not merely those that accrued during the eight years that he served as Governor and Secretary of State. She also re-quested that he receive a timely and full refund of the contribu-tions he made to the system.


There is at least one advocate of Ryan's deeds who has been consistent in his support. Uni-versity of Illinois law professor Francis Boyle, who has long ad-vocated abolishing the death penalty, has placed Ryan's name in nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize for the seventh time.

Boyle says his continuing nomination encourages aware-ness of the issue of capital pun-ishment. Boyle said 37 execu-tions occurred in 2008, a down-ward trend that began with Ryan's death penalty morato-rium.

Ryan did away with Illinois' death row in 2003 before leaving office.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Will County Illinois has its own version of the "Bridge to Nowhere"

Fund request includes local version of 'Bridge to Nowhere'

As part of its $26 million federal request for roads, infrastructure, and safety projects, in advance of President Barack Obama's potential stimulus bill, Will County included a request for funding for planning for a proposed Peotone airport.

The government throwing money at this ill-conceived, unlikely-to-be-completed project might be described as Will County's own version of the 'Bridge to Nowhere.'

Perhaps the project might be more aptly named, 'Flight to Nowhere.'

While there are some very worthwhile and even perhaps critical projects included in the funding request, funds for the 'Flight to Nowhere' is not among them. And perhaps the project should enjoy the same fate as the bridge.

In 2005, the U.S. Congress nixed the $398 million 'Bridge to Nowhere'. It would have served only 50 residents. The bridge was to connect Ketchikan, Alaska to the sparsely populated Gravina Island.
The project, which caused ample embarrassment to the U.S. Congress, was considered the epitome of wasteful spending.

It became the proverbial poster child for congressional earmarks, those eleventh-hour additions tacked-on to federal spending bills by individual congressmen, seeking perks for their districts, usually as a means for getting re-elected. Ever since earmarks became a household word, they have been scrutinized, even though some of those too, represented worthwhile projects. The problem is that many were not.

As is customary, Will County sends its annual request for funding to the federal government. And almost habitually, the request includes funding for the 'Flight to Nowhere.'

Not all habits are good. And this may be one case where change is needed.

With the exception of some political maneuvering, there has been no forward movement on 'Flight to Nowhere' since yet another new map was submitted to the Federal Aviation Administration last March. Who can count all the maps that have been submitted over the past 20 years that the project has been in its perpetual planning phase?

No maps, no matter how skillfully drawn; tax dollars from every level of government; or lofty rhetoric from boosters; has been able to accomplish what a successful airport requires — a federal declaration of need, airlines who will use it, and passengers who want it.

According to a Will County press release, the portion of the $26 million request includes nearly half a million dollars for airport planning. Is continued planning for this boondoggle really the best use of $500,000 of Will County funds?
The Will County release claims that funds would develop a multi-jurisdictional land-use plan that would ensure regional benefits of growth while minimizing any adverse impacts.

This habitual language in Will County's request fails to consider that legislation to establish a development district for which a multi-jurisdictional land use plan would consider, does not exist. It languishes in the rules committee of the Illinois House.

The release states that the development plan was devised by Will County along with the Villages of Beecher, Crete, Peotone, Monee, and University Park.

How long ago was that plan written? How many changes have taken place in the affected communities that have not been incorporated into the plan? Is Will County even aware that these five communities that once held regular meetings may no longer share common concerns?

The planning funds include a 6-township multi-jurisdictional land-use plan. Is that even feasible? It wasn't according to former Transportation Secretary Timothy Martin, who said the ultimate build-out of an airport larger than O'Hare would not happen in his lifetime. Even a scaled-down version looks like an impossibility.
The press release says the federally-funded plan would take into account all types of developments based on the future growth of the communities and airport.

Too bad this funding request failed to consider reality.

  • There is no airport project;
  • There is no enabling legislation for a development district;
  • The five towns that once worked together no longer speak to one another;
  • Will County, like the rest of the country, is in the midst of a recession;
  • And, air travel is lower than it has been for 15 years, due to the negative economy.
So, is requesting another $500,000 to plan for an unneeded project that has failed to advance from the drawing board in its 20-year existence, a wise use of funds?
Perhaps Will County should realize its perennial request for funding is sorely outdated and represents nothing more than a 'Flight to Nowhere.'
Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Freshmen congress sworn-in

Halvorson sworn in Tuesday, To serve on ag committee

Debbie Halvorson, D-Crete was among the new members of the 111th Congress sworn in when the session convened Tuesday morning.

Toi Hutchinson appointed to the Illinois Senate

English: Senator, State, Toi Hutchinson Giving...
Illinois State Senator Toi Hutchinson 

Democrats name new senator in the 40th

Toi Hutchinson, 35, of Olympia Fields will fill the senate seat formerly held by Illinois Senate Majority Leader Debbie Halvorson, Crete.

Hutchinson was chosen to fill the unexpired term by Democratic chairmen from Will, Kankakee, and Iroquois counties as well as committeemen from Bloom, Thornton and Rich townships in Cook County.
Just hours after Halvorson resigned from the Illinois Senate, her former chief of staff was named to replace her.

Halvorson resigned her senate seat at 10 a.m. Monday, Jan. 5. Hutchinson was chosen two hours later at a meeting at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Kankakee. She was sworn into office immediately following the vote by Appellate Court Judge Mary Kay O'Brien.

This appointment bounces the representation of the 40th Senate District, which includes Beecher, Monee, and Peotone in Will County, back to Olympia Fields in Cook County.

Halvorson's predecessor, the late Aldo DeAngelis was also from Olympia Fields. DeAngelis was a Republican; Hutchinson a Democrat. But, like DeAngelis, Hutchinson is said to favor building a new airport at Peotone.

Two other candidates were in contention. They were John Anderson, Monee, a Will County board member and John Pavich, Beecher, who ran unsuccessfully against ex-congressman Jerry Weller, the post Halvorson now holds.

Hutchinson is no stranger to politics. She waged an unsuccessfully run for Bloom Township Supervisor in 2005. Immediately following that election, she was appointed by Halvorson to serve as her chief of staff. She held that job for one year before going to work as a state lobbyist for the firm, Vincent R. Williams & Associates, of Chicago.

Hutchinson is the former village clerk at Olympia Fields, where she served one 4-year term. She is presently a second-year law student at Northern Illinois University at DeKalb. She and her husband Paul have three children.

She is the first black senator in the 40th district and the second woman.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Friday, January 2, 2009

Oh what a year...Illinois politics

Looking back at Illinois politics 2008,
Predominantly partisan, rarely pretty

Politically speaking, 2008 was a year to remember.

It began and ended with anticipation of replacing an unpopular president as well as a long-serving congressman who retired under a cloud of ethical questions. With primary contests in February, and a general election in November, local, state, and federal candidates geared up early for an exciting election season.


Will County Republicans named a new party chairman in March. Richard Kavanagh took over for GOP Chairman Jack Partelow who stepped down after serving 12 years. Partelow had, weeks before been arrested, for driving under the influence.

The first hint of a partisan political battle in Will County began taking shape in March when the GOP began to look at how death investigations are conducted. A probe was sparked by questions surrounding the death of Kathleen Savio, the fourth wife of ex-Bolingbrook police officer Drew Peterson. Savio's death was initially ruled accidental but further investigation, including exhumation of her body, changed the cause of death to homicide.

Some county board members considered doing away with the Coroner's office, long held by Democrat Patrick O'Neil. They considered hiring a Medical Examiner instead, which was strongly supported by O'Neil's Republican opponent Chuck Lyons, former deputy coroner in O'Neil's office. The proposal was later dropped. O'Neil handily won re-election in November.

In April Will County Executive Larry Walsh was arrested for DUI. His opponent Dan Kennison called for Walsh to step down. Walsh refused. When he had his day in court, he pleaded guilty and paid a fine.

Kennison also had a part in an FBI probe into Walsh's office in October. Questions surrounded Walsh's campaign contributions from the Smith family and their relatives in the Washington D.C. law firm Smith, Dawson, and Andrews. Walsh hired the firm as lobbyists in 2006. His Chief of Staff Matt Ryan was also implicated, by claims he had worked for the firm. He denied ever receiving a paycheck from the firm.

The FBI was apparently called by Auditor Steve Weber.

The story was initially picked up by the national press because Walsh had once served with Barack Obama in the Illinois Senate. The two played poker together. If Republicans envisioned a scandal for Obama, it never materialized.

It failed to connect with Will County voters as well, since Walsh won handily. And Weber was one of two Republicans who lost the election giving the Democrats a sweep of Will County offices.

Democrats did well in November. Even the 27 to 7 county board majority was affected. With the addition of four new county board Democrats, the Republican majority was reduced to 16 to 11.


By January, campaigning for the congressional seat held by Jerry Weller, R-Morris had already commenced. Like other states who wanted an early say in the presidential contest, the Illinois primary was moved up - from the first Tuesday in March to the first Tuesday in February.

Three Republican candidates - Tim Baldermann, New Lenox; Jimmy Lee, Utica; and Terry Heenan, New Lenox, were in contention.

Because of Green Party Candidate Rich Whitney's double digit showing in the previous gubernatorial race, Illinois law allowed the Green Party to be included on the November ballot. Jason Wallace, Normal ran on the Green ticket.

Plenty of interest was sparked by both parties at the mention of Weller stepping down. But, like the proverbial parting of the seas, all Democrats stepped back when Debbie Halvorson made her decision to run for the seat. She was unsure until after a meeting in Washington, D.C. with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and accompanying promises of funding.

February brought the primary and a huge surprise for Republicans. Baldermann, won the race, but then days later dropped out. Republicans, who had been fairly confident of holding on to the congressional seat suddenly found themselves without a candidate.

A long two months later, in April a new GOP candidate was introduced. Concrete magnate Marty Ozinga was chosen to face Halvorson and Wallace in the November election.

By August, the sniping between Halvorson and Ozinga had reached a fevered pitch. She accused him of being out of touch. He accused her of being a Springfield insider. After all, she was the Senate Majority Leader. Both accused each other of having close ties to Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who was rapidly becoming public enemy number one in Illinois. Blagojevich was being accused of obstructing progress in the state, being unreasonable, and having few friends on either side of the aisle.

In November, Halvorson won handily.

Democrats increased their majority in both the House and the Senate as well.

Halvorson's election will leave a vacancy in the state senate. Party chairmen in 40th Senate district will be charged with choosing her replacement. As of this writing, she has not yet resigned her senate seat. She will resign before her swearing-in Jan. 6, however. In the running for her replacement, are John Anderson, Monee; Toi Hutchison, Chicago Heights; and John Pavich, Beecher.


Things began to heat up in the state house in Springfield in May.

Halvorson, who had been accused of covering for Blagojevich and making Senate President Emil Jones' agenda her agenda, as she proclaimed prior to her running for congress, began distancing herself from the two. Her payback was to get bumped from the rules committee leadership.

By mid-year, the campaign season, was in full swing. Because Barack Obama was in contention for the White House, Illinois was deeply involved in the local and national elections.

In June, the Peotone airport proposal began to enter the fray.

That was when Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. began to accuse Halvorson of cavorting with criminals.

Jackson said SB2063 that Halvorson sponsored and pushed through the Illinois Senate creating the South Suburban Airport Authority Act, contained elements of a "pay-to-play" plan hatched by convicted felon Antoin "Tony" Rezko, a chief fundraiser for Blagojevich.

Jackson's charge was first made in a letter to the editor in a Village of Park Forest online newsletter. It was written by Jackson aide Rick Bryant. The letter and the allegations soon found their way into Halvorson's opponent's hands. The Illinois issue gained a national focus.

Bryant claimed that two years ago Jackson met with Rezko, who proposed an airport authority board with "pay-to-play" tactics, but that Jackson rejected it.

He wrote that Rezko stood in for Blagojevich at the meeting Jackson was supposed to have with the governor. Jackson said Rezko offered gubernatorial support if the governor was allowed to make key appointments to ALNAC’s board. Bryant's letter categorized that as Rezko trying to turn ALNAC into a state panel controlled by unaccountable "pay-to-play" ringleaders.

Halvorson’s response was that not only was she not directed by Rezko, but she has never even met him.

In August, Jackson was clearly moved by the Democratic National Convention that produced the first African American nomination for U.S. President.

Moved to tears, while at a breakfast of the Illinois delegation, Jackson initiated what has since been referred to as hug fest. He hugged Halvorson, Blagojevich, and longtime rival Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, all with whom he has had his differences through the years. But, all the feuding among Democrats melted away with an affectionate embrace as the Illinois Democrats celebrated their unity. Jackson even encouraged longtime adversaries Blagojevich and Speaker Michael Madigan, who are more likely to clinch fists than bodies, to partake in a hug.

December brought an early morning arrest of Gov. Rod Blagojevich on corruption charges. U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald held a news conference to explain that Blagojevich was taken into custody Dec. 9 at his north side home. Blagojevich's Chief of Staff John Harris was also arrested. He has since resigned from his job.

The charges outlined in a 76-page criminal complaint cite instances where Blagojevich allegedly tried to shake down campaign contributions in return for state jobs and contracts.

Also as part of the complaint, Blagojevich, who by law had sole authority to appoint a replacement to the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Obama, allegedly tried to sell it to the highest bidder.

U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., who has campaigned vigorously for the seat, was implicated in the FBI affidavit that accompanied the Blagojevich complaint.

Jackson has claimed innocence of any wrongdoing. He has even claimed he has been an informant - contacting federal authorities - about Blagojevich in the past.

Following Blagojevich's arrest, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan held a press conference of her own. She asked the Illinois Supreme Court to declare Blagojevich unfit to hold his office. The court refused.

Blagojevich has claimed he will fight because he has done nothing wrong. He is continuing business as usual, despite calls for his resignation.

To prove his point, he appointed Roland Burris, former Illinois Attorney General, to fill the senate seat.

Burris, who once ran unsuccessfully for governor and many other state offices, is calling himself the Junior Senator from Illinois. Senate Democrats who have told Blagojevich they will not approve any appointment he makes because it is tainted, have vowed to block Burris' appointment.

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White has refused to certify Burris' appointment.

In the Illinois Senate, hearings are underway to impeach Blagojevich.


A discussion of Illinois politics in 2008 has to include the Presidential race. Illinois had little to say after the vote in February, when voters gave their nod to the U.S. Senator from Illinois, but they had a stake in seeing it through to the end. Barack Obama is from Illinois.

It wasn't long into the year that it became clear that this would be a Democratic year. Republicans were taking a hit. President George W. Bush's low approval rating brought dyer predictions for the fall election.
As primary after primary after caucus was held across the country, all eyes were focused on Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton as well as John McCain.

The Democratic moment came prior to the convention. Obama edged out Hillary Clinton, who fought hard for the nomination.

The Republican convention brought rock star status to McCain's running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

But it appears that as quickly as Palin's star rose, it also fell just as quickly. Her television interview with ABC's Charlie Gibson and later with CBS's Katie Couric put questions in the minds of the political pundits who just weeks prior had sung her praises.

Palin was later said to have been the downfall of John McCain's bid for the White House.


Following his 2006 conviction on multiple counts of racketeering, conspiracy, mail fraud, obstruction of justice, money laundering, and tax violations, lawyers for ex-governor George Ryan continued their effort to gain Ryan's freedom. He had begun serving his 6 1/2 year sentence in November, 2007.

In February 2008, a petition was filed with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to overturn Ryan's conviction.

In March, Ryan was moved from a Wisconsin prison to the Terre Haute Federal Institution at Terre Haute, Ind.

In April Solicitor General Paul Clement filed a brief telling the U.S. Supreme Court that it should refuse to hear Ryan's appeal.

May brought the official rejection of Ryan's appeal by the high court.

His last hope for freedom lay with President Bush. Sen. Dick Durbin even called for Ryan's sentence to be commuted. Durbin said Ryan was in ill health and his incarceration was very difficult on his family.
Ryan issued an apology for his crimes.

 Bush has signed some commutations and pardons, but Ryan's was not among them.

Enhanced by Zemanta