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Saturday, July 2

Gapers Block

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Kenzo Shibata, Charlotte Lynn, Jacob Lesniewski and an ex-legislative staffer all contributed to this column.

So, Governor Blagojevich has among the worst approval ratings of any elected official in the country. With the trial of Blagojevich-tied fundraiser Tony Rezko making things worse, the governor's political aspirations are disappearing faster than a line of anything in front of Stu Levine.

Blagojevich may not know budgets, and may not know how to curry favor with the general assembly, or Mike Madigan, or Chicago aldermen, or the press, or the state civil service, or good government activists, or Patrick Fitzgerald, or anybody, but one thing he does know is his classic rock. That is what prompted him to write the op-ed piece "Getting what we need in transit aid" for the Tribune on January 17th.

He opens his piece by quoting the Rolling Stones.

"The Rolling Stones made famous a simple lesson that all of us are taught early on: You can't always get what you want. And as the song goes on to say, if you try sometimes, you get what you need. But sometimes to get what you need, you need to compromise."

He was referring to his CTA proposal, which was the bathwater to his baby, free rides for seniors.

As is par for the course in Blagospeak, the governor uses some numbers, non-germane to his argument, and uses the classic "but we all know" strategy to show how he's a roll-up-our-sleeves-and-get-to-work kinda guy.

"Critics say that my improvement to the transit bill will give wealthy seniors a benefit they don't need or deserve. But let's be honest here, the vast majority of senior citizens who rely on public transportation are not wealthy."

He has absolutely no numbers to back that up, even though he felt that some arbitrary figures used earlier in the piece would help him make his point. But let's be honest here, he was dangling the carrot of being nice to grandma to get the bill passed. No one wants to kick grandma off the bus.

This leads the RotSC and staff to recommend the following carrots that Blago can dangle and lead to another glorious term as our governor:


Gift: No sales tax for one year for people who donate greater than $50 to any charity.

Rationale: The rise in charitable giving would take the place of already defunded state social services.

Indirect or Direct Benefit to Blagojevich: Last minute text amendment that adds "any non-corporate entity which at least in part rhymes with Glagoyuvitch" to list of acceptable charities.


Gift: Shoulder turned into new lane on inbound 290, 90, 94, 55 and 57.

Rationale: Increased tourism to Chicago means no more losing tax revenue to stupid Hammond!

Indirect or Direct Benefit to Blagojevich: Thinks having more people in the city at any given time increases the size of his base.


Gift: $3 million appropriation for Screwin' Around Awareness.

Rationale: These kids today, they screw around too much!

Indirect or Direct Benefit to Blagojevich: Wins over grumpy seniors, driver's ed and shop teachers.


Gift: Earned Income Tax Credit expanded to include the barter system.

Rationale: Craigslist and eBay economy means a new kind of thinking around tax policy!

Indirect or Direct Benefit to Blagojevich: Finally cracks into coveted Renaissance Fair bloc.


Gift: Text Amendment to raise the age defining a minor to 34.

Rationale: "34 is the new 17!"

Indirect or Direct Benefit to Blagojevich: Two words (well, one portmanteau): AllKids.


Gift: Alternative Energies And Planting a Corpse In Mike Madigan's Cellar Tax Credit.

Rationale: "Renewable and alternative energies are an important component of Illinois' economic future; investing in them now will build the infrastructure that will place Illinois ahead of other states as alternative and renewable energy become the standard forms of energy production. Also, dependence on foreign energy is a danger to our homeland security, and investing in domestic energy is the best way to free our foreign policy from the undue attention paid to regions and regimes that control natural resources!"

Indirect or Direct Benefit to Blagojevich: Ingratiates him with creative class social entrepreneurs, environmentalists.


Gift: $12 million appropriation for Getting Your Car Out of Tow Lots in Schaumburg/Orland Park.

Rationale: "A significant number of Illinoisans are stranded in downtown Chicago, needing only a few more bucks so they can get on a train and get their car out of a tow lot in Schaumburg or Orland Park."

Indirect or Direct Benefit to Blagojevich: Wins both street hustlers and harried downtown businesspeople.


Gift: $400,000 appropriation for reopening Fan Si Pan Restaurant.

Rationale: Fan Si Pan spring rolls.

Indirect or Direct Benefit to Blagojevich: Gets Ramsin's vote.


Gift: $80 million to increase state employee salaries.

Rationale: "Spending on service-providing workers is really spending on Illinois citizens — and Illinois citizens come first!"

Indirect or Direct Benefit to Blagojevich: Clearly, you've never seen those gigantic correctional officers that show up for Springfield lobby days.


Gift: $2 million appropriation for Breast Feeding Rights Awareness program.

Rationale: "The women who tend for the next generation should be free to provide the best care they can, wherever and whenever they can."

Indirect or Direct Benefit to Blagojevich: Builds on popularity with young mother voters, perverts.


Gift: $10 million to local newspapers for updating equipment.

Rationale: "Due to lagging newspaper sales around the city and outlying areas, countless media companies have had to cut expenses. This gift would allow newspapers to direct their funds to salaries or reporters and advertising budgets in lieu of updating ever-obsolescing equipment."

Indirect or Direct Benefit to Blagojevich: The computers would be direct gifts from the state. To cut back on expenses, refurbished computers would be used, ones missing the letters R,E,Z,K, and O.


Gift: Temporary Housing to Springfield's Homeless during the months from April 1st- September 28th (October extension to be determined by August, if not earlier).

Rationale: "Baseball is America's pastime. Springfield's homeless should not be left out of this uniquely American tradition. During baseball season, when the Governor uses the friendly confines as his office, local homeless will be allowed into the Governor's mansion to watch the games on his wide-screen HDTV."

Indirect or Direct Benefit to Blagojevich: Fukudome's looking good so far.


Gift: Jobs program for recent high-school grads who achieved high scores on the Prairie State Achievement Exam.

Rationale: "Due to the No Child Left Behind Law, schools that do not make 'adequate yearly progress' are put on probation and lose federal funding. This puts Illinois at a disadvantage due to the fact that it ranks 49th in the country for educational funding. This means that Illinois schools are highly likely to lose those federal funds on top of the poor funding allotted from the state. This puts recent high school grads at a disadvantage in the job market. This new program would give recent graduates with high Prairie State scores the ability to work with the one thing they learned about in school. They will score the Prairie State test.

Indirect or Direct Benefit to Blagojevich: If the gubernatorial ballot is structured like the test, Blagojevich would be a shoo-in with 18-24 year olds if he's choice "C."


Gift: Treehouse Property Tax Exemption.

Rationale: "Governor Blagojevich has always supported lowering the voting age to 12, what are you talking about?"

Indirect or Direct Benefit to Blagojevich: Gets invited to all the best Truth or Dare parties (much more fun than Truth or Discoverable Truth).


Gift: $52.3 billion on Mother's Daughter to show in the Third.

Rationale: "Philly's Best hurt her hoof at Pimlico last month."

Indirect or Direct Benefit to Blagojevich: Two words; legal fund.   ✶

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Levois / April 7, 2008 12:08 AM

This column is hilarious. I enjoyed it. Funny thing is he might actually try most of these.

car donation / April 15, 2008 4:40 AM

This leads the RotSC and staff to recommend the following carrots that Blago can dangle and lead to another glorious term as our governor: 1 Gift: No sales tax for one year for people who car donation greater than $50 to any


About the Author(s)

Ramsin Canon studies and works in politics in Chicago. If you have a tip, a borderline illegal leak, or a story that needs to be told, contact him at

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