Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Mikva living on another planet

The most ridiculous utterance this month didn't come from Ann Coulter. It came from liberal "icon" Abner Mikva, who wrote one of the most brain-dead op-eds I've seen in years.

It's as if he was channeling his days as a lawyer for former president Bill Clinton, where his aides were all practiced in the art of defending untruths by declaring black is white like Soviet spokesmen.

In short, Mikva blasted the media for tarring poor Rod Blagojevich for all the nasty stories suggesting his administration is corrupt. Let's just go over a few of the far-out statements.
Blagojevich began turning things around, from reducing administrative waste and redundancy to providing more funds for critical services. The governor sought the input of government watchdogs and respected public servants in developing landmark ethics legislation that he later signed into law.
Has Mikva read a single report of the Illinois Auditor General? The findings are the most stunning ever for a chief executive in Illinois. About a dozen audits document hundreds of millions of dollars of waste, fraud and abuse of the kind never seen before in Illinois. The Central Management Services audit was so bad Auditor General Bill Holland had to conduct his first ever press conference to announce he was turning over half the findings to the Illinois Attorney General for possible criminal prosecution. Every single claim by the Blagojevich administration of administrative "streamlining" has been found to be bogus. And the ethics act? The audits state that nearly every agency under the governor has failed to follow the most basic tenant of the new law -- that state employees are required to keep timesheets to prove they are not ghost payrollers.

For the first time, an independent inspector general -- not some political lapdog -- was appointed to investigate wrongdoing in state government.
There is no evidence whatsoever that Blagojevich's inspector general has reduced corruption. Blagojevich's first inspector general quit right after the administration refused to take her advice on a matter regarding a politically connected contract that had $5 million in unaccounted for billings. So Blagojevich brought over an inspector general from the state tollway, which, under his watch, was riddled with corruption and is the subject of state and federal criminal investigations. Because the law creating the inspector general shields all results from the public, no one knows what he is doing. The only result that has been announced was timed to beat the Sun-Times to a damaging story against the administration -- raising the specter of political use of the inspector general, exactly the opposite of an "independent" inspector general.
There is a functioning Board of Ethics to review the complaints of wrongdoing.
Barely. Rod declined to reconstitute the former Board of Ethics which had real teeth, including enhanced disclosure of financial dealings of his top staff. In its place he installed an ethics commission which Mikva's fellow liberal Scott Turow said not only lacked teeth, "it lacks a worn set of dentures." The newly constituted board has heard exactly one case during the Blagojevich years.
Because of the reforms, state officials can't leave government on a swinging door to work for businesses they once regulated.
Nearly all of Rod's cronies are making tons of money as lobbyists and representatives of companies doing business with the state. The stories are everywhere. Abner need go no further than Rod's high profile campaign spokesman, who made at least $200,000 after he left his post as deputy governor and went to work for various state contractors and agencies, including one bond firm that paid him $5,000 a month to advise it on bond issues.
The governor was able to control headcount of employees by holding agencies accountable for hiring only for positions necessary to the mission of the agency. That reform helped reduce the size of government by 13,000 positions.
Nearly all the staff reduction was caused by an early retirement program put in place by George Ryan.
He changed the personnel tracking system so that candidates for Rutan-covered jobs -- those that by law are required to be free of political influence -- are reviewed on the merits without disclosing the names of applicants.
No, the Associated Press reported that the names were on the administration's new tracking documents.
Those are the facts. But you wouldn't know it by reading or listening to the media. The emphasis there is on vague allegations that "some" employees have been hired improperly.
Well, Abner, apparently you don't read newspapers because it has been widely reported that nearly every agency under the governor has been the target of federal subpoenas under a broad and widening hiring investigation.

If you want to argue, Abner, that subpoenas are not proof of anything, fine. That finely constructed point is correct. However, I hope you would acknowledge that any administration under nine separate federal and state investigations probably is not operating cleanly and efficiently as you state. There is no governors' office in the history of Illinois that has faced that many investigations and there is probably none in the country right now under so much scrutiny.

And finally, this proclamation by Mikva:
I don't like government being used as a tool to reward political favors and I never have.
Abner, how do you explain the extraordinary fundraising by Rod Blagojevich? Do you think he was able to raise triple the amount of money as George Ryan by not rewarding political donors? Did you miss the Chicago Tribune editorial that called Rod, "Governor Pay to Play?" Have you been on vacation out of the country the last three and a half years?

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