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Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Burris Tapes Put Illinois Corruption Back in Spotlight

Had Nancy Pelosi not meltded down herself only weeks earlier, the meltdown by Roland Burris yesterday would have gone down as something more extraordinary. That said, there should be no doubt that Burris has not been honest, very little doubt that he at least deserves to be investigated, and certainly a strong suspicion that he only received his Senate seat through a quid pro quo. It's of course the irony of ironies that prior to all of this coming out everyone portrayed Burris as an individual of impeccable character and ethics.

I didn't know that much about Burris however I found it hard to believe that he rose as far as he did within the swamp of Illinois politics being someone of "impeccable character and ethics". The tapes have been characterized as Blagojevich's standard operating procedure. Commentators have taken to the air to proclaim that under Blago this is how business got done. I don't doubt this but Blago didn't learn this on his own.

Blago has been the consummated political insider since he married the former Patti Mell. Patti's father is powerful Chicago City Council Man, Dick Mell. It was Mell's influence that moved Blago through the political ranks in Chicago. It was Mell's influence that secured Blago's fifth Congressional seat from 1996-2002 and Mell's influence that helped land Blago the Governorship. Blago didn't learn pay to play and other forms of corruption all on his own. He learned them because pay to play and corruption is standard operating procedure for Illinois.

It is the same system that wound up spring boarding Burris to the State's Attorney General's office. So, the thought that he was an individual of impeccable ethics always seemed to be naive. Now, the corruption in Illinois is yet again in the front pages of the national media. He's now not merely an embarrassment for Illinois but for the nation. Burris, and all his Illinois corrupt baggage, are now the problem of the U.S. Senate and the Democratic leadership.

Right now, the Illinois House, lead by Michael Madigan, is debating a non binding resolution to send to the U.S. Senate to demand that Burris be removed from his seat. That's right, here in Illinois even a no brainer non binding resolution needs to be debated when it comes to taking any stand against corruption. Pat Quinn, who took over for Blago, is making his first major legislation a 50% increase in the income tax rate. That's because in this corrupt state cutting spending in order to balance the budget is simply not an option. Too many folks have been paid off with that spending.

Meanwhile, Burris is defiant and isn't planning on going anywhere. He's even making plans for a run in 2010. Why shouldn't he be? Given the environment he's from, he really hasn't done anything any different than his colleagues.

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