Wednesday, May 3, 2006

He's not sincere, Carol

Carol Marin is a nice person, but I don't get her column this morning. She's exhorting Rod Blagojevich to push a sweeping ethics plan like he promised a year ago.

In the column, she repeatedly mentions the phone number of the Governor's office (wrong place to reach him, by the way) in an apparent effort to unleash a phone calling blitz from her readers.

Then Carol lashes out at those who say laws aren't the problem.

It's so hard to keep an accurate count of corruption cases these days.

There's the pay-to-play probe involving the governor's big campaign donors getting cushy jobs or fabulous state contracts, the probe of how the politically connected got investment business with state pension programs, the hiring probes at DCFS, IDOT and Corrections and that question of state regulation of a Joliet landfill tied to the ongoing family feud between the Mells and the Blagojevichs.

When I hear Illinois politicians say we already have plenty of laws on the books and that corruption is already illegal, I could scream.

Well, start screaming Carol. You just made the point of those you are criticizing.

Nearly everything Rod Blagojevich and his administration is being investigated for already is illegal. What makes her think that a new ethics law will curb much of his behavior?

All she or any other journalist has to do is read the audits being released by Illinois Auditor General Bill Holland. In the most recent batch, Holland cites example after example where the administration is blatantly flouting existing procurement laws and procedures, involving hundreds of millions of our tax dollars. And he noticed that we have no idea when employees of the Governor's offices main agencies are working because they aren't filling out time sheets as required by the much ballyhooed 2003 ethics law signed by Rod Blagojevich.

That's the same law the Tribune said was violated when Rod filmed a campaign attack ad at a Chicago Public School.

It might be hard to keep an accurate count of corruption probes these days, but that's the job of a journalist. The extraordinary amount of corruption in the Blagojevich administration right after the George Ryan disgrace is a great story and reporters ought to continue digging. It's not hard to find. I've found plenty and I'm not even looking that hard.

I agree that some ethics reforms are necessary and will do some good in the long run.

But the real story with Rod is not whether he pushes an ethics proposal he has no intention of following. It's following what he's doing in office. It's a gold mine.

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