From Governor to Prisoner

By Sandra Neri
On the morning of Thursday March 15,2012 , impeached Illinois Ex-Governor, Rod Blagojevich, began his journey to a Colorado prison. Many people gathered around the Blagojevich home to wish him well. His wife Patti and two daughters, Amy and Anne, said their goodbyes inside their Ravenswood manor and did not accompany the ex-governor. The media was there in full force, to get a few words from Blagojevich, and they got them. “While my faith in things has sometimes been challenged, I still believe this is America, this is a country that is governed by the rule of law, that the truth ultimately will prevail”, said Blagojevich as he made his way to a waiting car, and surrounded by his lawyers.

The Early Years:
Son of an immigrant Steel plant worker, and a CTA ticket taker, in his youth Blagojevich worked odd jobs as a shoe shine, a pizza delivery boy, and a meat packer to help pay family bills. In his teens he played basketball and trained briefly to be a Golden Gloves boxer. He worked for the Trans Alaskan Pipeline system as a dishwasher to pay for college. Fellow former college classmates remember Blagojevich as a serious student who didn’t party, and could recall many facts about all our American presidents. In 1979 he received a bachelors degree from Northwestern, in 1983 he earned his Juris Doctor from Pepperdine University Law School in Malibu, California. He began work as an attorney immediately.

In 1986 Blagojevich joined Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley’s legal team as the Cook County Assistant States Attorney where he specialized in domestic abuse crimes and felony weapons cases. In 1992 he won the Illinois 5th district seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, and served three terms as a congressman. In 1999 he helped the Reverend Jesse Jackson free three U.S. prisoners of war in Yugoslavia. In 2002 Blagojevich became the first democrat in 26 years to win a governorship in Illinois.

Our Governor 2003-2009:
Winning a re-election to become Illinois governor for a second term, Blagojevich signed many bills, backed many legislations, and started many valuable programs while his six year governorship. Just to mention a few: Earned Income Tax Credit, a statewide comprehensive smoking ban, expansion of health care programs, responsible for record increases in funding for education every year without raising general sales or income taxes, vetoed Senate bills that would have weakened gun laws, created the Illinois Healthy Women program to provide health care to women who otherwise would go without, signed the Leave No Senior Behind law, which fills holes not filled by federal programs, established the Internet Crimes Unit, signed two bills to strengthen Illinois laws against adults who use the internet to exploit children.

Beginning of the End:
This whole thing started out because someone working under Blagojevich tried to strong arm a hospital CEO into choosing a certain contractor for an expansion project. Before the proposal went in, Pamela Davis CEO of Edward Hospital in Naperville got a phone call stating that unless she picked this contractor, her proposal would be denied. When Davis, was rudely denied her proposal for expansion, she knew it was because she did not pick this certain contractor. Angered and humiliated, she went to the FBI with this information. They did not take her claim seriously at first. She agreed to wear a wire for the FBI, arranged a meeting with Nicholas Hurtgen (the man who first phoned her), and contractor Jacob Kiferbaum. During that one meeting, the FBI got the evidence they needed, Davis knew that, yet the FBI had her wear a wire for the next eight months. Davis stopped wearing a wire because someone “leaked” that story to the Chicago Sun-Times. The continued taped conversations picked up discussions about the newly vacant Senate seat, which Blagojevich was accused of trying to “sell”.

Draw Your Own Conclusions:
The fact that the FBI continued to have Davis wear a wire long after getting what they needed, leads me to believe they had an ulterior motive from day one. Did the FBI use Davis, or offer her something? Did Davis, as a woman in charge at Edward hospital, take that expansion denial a little too personal? What was her motive for wearing a wire months after they got the evidence they needed? Out of 400 hours of taped conversations, why were only 2 hours played in court? Why has there been a protective order put on those taped conversations by the FBI?

Wrap up:
Blagojevich had been known to anger a few colleagues while he was governor as he is known to have a temper. Having had many years of experience dealing with congressmen, and senators, Blago knows you can’t be “nice”. Unfortunately, people mistake niceness for weakness, and you basically get steamrolled. On his wrong doing, in the ex-governors own words, “I caused it all. I’m not blaming anybody. I was the governor and I should have known better and I am just so incredibly sorry.” All of the good a person has done should not be erased or forgotten because he/she makes a few mistakes, and that goes for anyone. As Blago made his way through O’hare Airport, he was photographed and asked for his autograph. People wished him well, and gave him words of comfort and encouragement. People have been leaving comments on the news stations Facebook pages, and Twitter walls. The vibe is mostly supportive and positive, one comment echoes the thoughts of many of us “He just did what they all do, the only difference is, he got caught”. One news station chose to title Blago’s day to report to prison as ‘The Last Chapter’, and I can’t help but think this is far from the last chapter. This is not an end; it’s a new beginning, a new chapter. Rod Blagojevich was sentenced to 14 years in a low-security prison in Colorado, he is planning to appeal his sentence.
Facts gathered from:

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