Another Fine Mess, Roland

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into Illinois’s political waters  (no, it will never be safe…):

Don’t know how much national play the new Burris brouhaha is getting, but of course it’s big news here. And I suppose no surprise. As I’ve noted before, political mavens here have long pegged Rollin’ Roland as more ego than brains or conscience. So now it comes out that he lied during his testimony before the House committee that started the process of getting rid of Blago.

In January, Burris said under oath that he only talked to one person about his interest in the vacated Senate seat. Turns out it was five people, and one of them, Blago’s brother, hit him up for campaign contributions (though no sense it was an explicit quid pro quo, and Burris said he refused to pony up anyway).

Three weeks later, Burris looks over the transcripts of his testimony and says, “Gee, maybe I wasn’t complete in what I said. Here, committee folks, here’s the full scoop.” Convenient to discover that gap now, when he’s safely ensconced in D.C. Though perhaps not for long. Illinois Repubs are talking about perjury charges, and there’s word that one of his chats with brother Blago is on the Feds’ tapes. Burris, of course, is appalled at the suggestion he might have lied under oath. As he  said, reported in the Sun- Times, he merely realized that “there were several facts that I was not given the opportunity to make during my testimony.” Hmm, so I guess the question, “Did you talk to anybody?” didn’t count as an opportunity.

Let’s cut to the chase here: This guy is as slimy and self-serving a pol as Illinois has produced, even if he never got caught in a scandal before. He wanted that seat and would deal with the devil – in the form of Blago – to get it. He lied under oath. He should be booted out of the Senate, pronto. But of course, the whole thing will drag on, somebody (Bobby Rush?) will accuse anyone who wants Burris out of being a racist, and Illinois will continue to tarnish itself. If Abe could rise from the grave, I’m sure he would demand to have “Land of Lincoln” ripped off the license plates and wish he’d never seen the place. Indiana might be boring, but maybe that’s not bad when it comes to corruption.

Alongside this latest development, the Tribune announced a new anti-corruption campaign. How noble, and good luck. As I read the kick-off article, I noticed one glaring omission: the role of organized crime in state and Chicago politics.  There was one historical reference to Capone and the Windy City, as though the cozy relations between the pols and the Outfit is all in the past. Uh huh. From the little I know about the political machinations here, mobsters still play a part, if more here than on the state level. As long as such an entrenched institution thrives, it won’t matter how many Ryans and Blagos and Daley cronies you send to prison. Add voter apathy on top of it, and the corruption gold mine that awaits if the city gets the 2016 Olympics…again, the only thing good about leaving here is getting away from this toxic environment and the high taxes that are the sure price of corruption.

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~ by mburgan on February 16, 2009.

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