Guest Column: Blago’s new book—who cares?

By John Russell Ghrist

It has been said that there is a book in each of us. Anyone can sit down and write pages and pages of what we know most about or try to influence others with our point of view. I have written 15 local history books. They are all in some libraries somewhere. No one has ever bothered to write a review of any of them. So why all of this concern about some literary piece of junk written by disgraced former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich? One Chicago columnist calls him
Dead Meat.

A Chicago radio station survey says that more than 60 percent of its polled listeners would not read his book,
even if it was the only one left on a deserted island.

This is just Blago’s latest attempt to twist the public’s image of himself and pollute the potential jury pool who will, it is hoped, convict him at his coming corruption trial. This guy, who ran on a platform of reform, has turned into the worst type of crooked politician, namely, the kind that gets caught and then is quick to blame others.

The Chicago media deliver too much courtesy to this hairy character who is a constant seeker of blatant attention, by giving him his own talk show or publicizing his bad

impersonations. How many people would be entertained if I stood on a street corner and did my silly take-offs of David Caruso, Edward G. Robinson or imitated Crazy Guggenheim’s hideous laugh from the old Jackie Gleason Show? The men in white coats would certainly be alerted. Blago’s lawyers at his trial will then tell us that he is a good guy. Yeah. Right.

As a past state employee of IDOT, I have first hand information of what was going on in state government in 2004. I was marched into an empty room by one of Blago’s cronies one afternoon, and my job was

I was then replaced by someone with no previous governmental experience. At that time, the first of many liaisons were appointed by Blago’s people. They were put in charge of various duties like changing the timing of traffic signals or building roads.

The only qualification that my replacement had was that he was a member of the Young Democrats Party and now makes more than $50,000 a year. All of these people were paid too much and knew too little about their new positions. Many good and experienced state employees like me lost our jobs because of this senseless patronage.

We were told to apply for lower-paying positions. I filled out and sent in all the forms twice and never heard from anyone in Springfield. I scored A’s on other state exams but was never rehired. It did not take a person of any particular party to do my job, just someone with knowledge and experience. New employees also did campaign work on state time. They also ruined established and working programs just for the sake of change.

I was the editor of the department’s newspaper. In one issue, we had planned a fund drive at a local grocery store to help pay for a state employee’s kidney transplant. Blago’s people took the story out and replaced it with political garbage. I wonder if all of that is in his new book?

Blago’s cronies spent money when the state was on the brink of financial collapse. There were funds for big salaries, political trinkets, T-shirts, printing and advertising, but the state could not pay its janitors in state buildings or buy toilet paper. Is all that in Blago’s new book?

In my last days at the state after nearly 19 years of dedicated hard work, I had difficulty getting earned days off to look for another job, file for unemployment and see a sick relative. On my last day, I was asked to write a complicated two-page news release about the pending construction of the Dan Ryan Expressway for the Chicago media, because Blago’s people did not know anything about the project. Is that in Blago’s new book? Certainly, after the Feds convict ol’ Rod, they should go after some of his worthless political friends that even got big raises before the G-men came to his house and arrested him. The state should also make sure that no profits come from his book as they do criminals who paint, make crafts or write poems.

Finally, the former governor came here a few years ago to pass out some campaign crumbs and then sheepishly snuck out of town before reporters could ask him about the government’s corruption allegations against him. A few months later, he was planning another visit. I wrote a long editorial in The Rock River Times titled
Governorm, go home!

His campaign workers must have read it, because Blago never came back to Rockford.

So what does one do with a worthless book written by a corrupt official that is full of fictitious fabrications and twisted truths? It can be slid under an uneven leg to level a table, or it can be wrapped up and passed off as a gag gift in the holiday office grab bag. Hundreds of copies of his book will no doubt find their way into the used book sales at libraries and thrift shops, or better still, be deposited in the landfill at Pagel Pit. I even know of a local bank that offers free shredding for recycled paper once a month.

A speedy old Western-type trial is not fast enough to get this self-serving guy off the streets who has made a mockery of state government, and who only wanted to
make money,

with his office. He and his wife even defamed the Chicago Cubs, which we all heard on FBI wiretaps. Blago’s book has no literary value or purpose other than to further confuse the public and defend his eventual conviction. Why would anyone want to read it when there are so many other great books around that deserve our attention and time? We have probably not heard the last from this disgusting political figure. He will soon be writing his sequel from a jail cell, which will restart this crazy media circus over again.

We live in a sad state. Bad politicians never seem to go away, and new ones are created each election day… However, most eventually are caught on FBI wiretaps, while others are discovered trying to hide their corruptive deeds in a closet full of shoe boxes. Rod fooled us all; why should we believe anything in his dumb book now?

John Russell Ghrist is a local resident who hosts a radio show, Everyday People, on WTPB LP 99.3FM.

From the September 30 – October 6, 2009 issue.

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