Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Illinois, Corruption, and My Setting

Anyone who has read my stories realizes that the main setting is fictitious Prairie Winds Golf Course, high atop the Mississippi river bluffs east of St. Louis. Even though most of the metro area is located in Missouri the river divides the population and the golf course is located in the neighboring state of Illinois.

Many of the characters of my stories are the unscrupulous businessmen, unethical lawyers, dishonest law enforcement personnel and corrupt politicians.  Those personalities always make for good reading!  So, naturally I took great interest in the recent sentencing of former Governor Rod Blagojevich. He was convicted of attempting to sell the vacant Senate seat of Barack Obama. That’s called “business as usual” in Illinois. You know, line your pockets while you’re in office. The trouble was he wasn’t too smart about it and he didn't cover his tracks. He was convicted on seventeen counts of fraud and lying to the FBI in the “pay to play” scheme.

What really surprised me was that U.S. District Court Judge James Zagel didn’t play politics. Blagojevich received fourteen years in prison. With the guidelines established he has to serve 85% of that sentence. That’s about twelve years of hard time which will make him 67 years old when he gets out. Pow!

Isn’t it about time the courts and our judicial system starts coming down hard on the white-collar slime that violates the public trust? Maybe this will be the beginning of tough sentencing to those politicians who think they are immune to the very laws they create. It should not be acceptable to get elected and a few years later leave office a multi-millionaire.

It’s hard to pinpoint when it all started in Illinois. Bribery, misuse of public funds for private benefit and payoffs for the awarding of contracts seem to run rampant there. Of course the happenings in the southern part of the state are nothing compared to what happens in Chicago.

Does it go back to the bootlegging of Al Capone during Prohibition? Or did it start way before that? What role does former Mayor Daley play? How about the Board of Trade? Is President Barack Obama a benefactor? Maybe it is best for all of us to stay stupid.

Before Blagojevich, former Governor George Ryan was convicted for taking bribes allowing truckers to receive commercial hauling licenses. Ryan served as lieutenant governor when Governor Jim Thompson served the office. Was it a coincidence that Thompson was the manager of the law firm that defended Ryan? How do they explain the deaths of six people that were killed at the hands of an unqualified driver? Do these elected officials have no remorse?

Prior to that, Governor Dan Walker was involved in the savings and loan scandals of the 70s and was convicted for making fraudulent loans to himself. Before him, Governor Otto Kerner, Jr. was convicted of double digit counts of bribery, conspiracy, perjury and income tax evasion.  The list of criminal offenses from the Illinois governor's office is quite amazing. It looks like the FBI should set up an office across the street from the Capitol building in Springfield.

The state of Illinois certainly has provided an opportunity to create unforgettable characters with questionable reputations. You’ll have to pick up one of my books to see if they land in prison like their real-life counterparts!

James Ross
Author of Lifetime Loser, Finish Line, Tuey's Course, Opur's Blade, and Pabby's Score
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1 comment:

Gerry Wendel said...

Bad boys that got caught! Doesn't the sentence depend on whether it was a "local", state or a federal charge? If it's federal, they serve the bulk of the time; lesser courts, it's far less.