Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A DAY IN THE LIFE (of Chicago): Who gets in the last word on Blagojevich?

Prosecuting attorneys who want to turn former Gov. Rod Blagojevich into another notch of victory on their records formally ended their questioning during his criminal trial. Not that such a move means that Milorod will now sit down and shut up.
BLAGOJEVICH: Will he get last word?

For Tuesday became the day that Blagojevich continued to testify, as his own attorneys now ask him questions that relate to the most embarrassing moments the former governor had during his days of questioning by prosecutors.

IT’S CALLED “REDIRECT,” and it is limited to bringing out the additional details that would be relevant, but that prosecutors didn’t want to hear in response to their own questions. It was meant to give Blagojevich the "final" say, as was Blagojevich's stunt of walking up to Assistant U.S. Attorney Reid Schar after his testimony ended Tuesday and trying to shake his hand.

In short, we’re engaged in a serious back-and-forth between the prosecution and defense to see who can have the last word in terms of Blagojevich’s testimony during his own criminal trial – in which closing arguments (hopefully) will begin by week's end.

In his final bit of questioning on Tuesday by prosecutors, the federal government tried to get Blagojevich to say that he wanted to give his appointment of a U.S. Senate seat from Illinois to Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., D-Ill., in exchange for a campaign contribution that would bolster his own future political options.

Anyone who knows anything about the level of pettiness that can occur among Illinois politicos knows (and it has come out during the trial as well) that Blagojevich and Jackson didn’t get along. My guess is that Jackson is the absolute LAST person Blagojevich would have wanted to have the position.

THE IDEA THAT he would try to “shake down” the allies of Barack Obama to let the incoming president have a say in who would replace him in the Senate would be more believable.

Then again, this is a prosecution that started out their questioning of Blagojevich last week by asking him if he really was a “convicted liar” (a reference to the lone conviction that prosecutors got during his first trial).

If one looks at this objectively, that question is so loaded and stupid that it undercuts the credibility of prosecutors. Then again, I doubt many people care these days if Blagojevich’s feelings get hurt.

What else is notable these days along the shores of Lake Michigan – aside from the intense heat (heat index readings of up to 103 degrees) that is causing many of us to spend as much time in air-conditioned facilities as possible?
CHICO: Still a part of political scene

A REWARD FOR A HARD-FOUGHT CAMPAIGN?: So Gery Chico, the one-time Chicago Board of Education president and holder of other education-related posts who ran an aggressive campaign for mayor, gets to move on to his next political position.

It seems that the Chicago attorney has found his niche in positions that allow him to be an apparent expert in public education. For Gov. Pat Quinn on Tuesday officially named Chico to be head of the Illinois State Board of Education.

Quinn says he liked Chico’s campaign rhetoric about education related issues, and likes the idea of putting public education across Illinois into the hands of someone who once ran the Chicago Public Schools (along with Paul Vallas) and most recently was in charge of the City Colleges of Chicago.

It also means that Chico can continue to have a life in public service outside of the realm of Mayor Rahm Emanuel – who never would have appointed Chico to any post. It will be interesting to see how things play out the first time that Chico and new Chicago schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard wind up in conflict on some point.

SENSE PREVAILS. NO CHARGES: Quinn ordered the Legislature back to Springfield for a special session. But the intriguing “news” from the capital city comes from the state’s attorney for Sangamon County, Ill.
Scene of the "crime?" Not according to the state's attorney for Springfield.

He’s not going to file criminal charges against state Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline. We can all now breathe a sigh of relief. Although the sight of a “perp walk” for a sitting senator could have been entertaining.

Jacobs is the senator who touched/ poked/slapped/pushed/punched Senate colleague Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon, in the chest following a shouting match over a bill related to Commonwealth Edison (Jacob’s father, former legislator Denny Jacobs, is one of their lobbyists).

McCarter is the guy who has been screaming how he wants “Justice!!!” for the physical assault he had to endure. Now, he’s not going to get it, with State’s Attorney John Milhiser issuing a statement saying the spat is, “best resolved internally by the Senate and not the criminal courts.”

THE QUINTESSENTIAL SOX – PEAVY OR DANKS?: I can’t make up my mind which Chicago White Sox pitcher is more representative of the 2011 season.

Jake Peavy is the one-time National League Cy Young Award winner who hasn’t pitched anywhere near that level of excellence in Chicago, and is now the subject of “day to day” scrutiny of his right groin, which suffered a strain when he pitched Sunday against the Detroit Tigers.

John Danks, of course, has been gaining national attention because he went the first two months of this season without registering a “win.” He took that 0-8 record into Monday night’s game against the Seattle Mariners, who will now be the first team whom Danks actually managed to beat in ’11.

So are the White Sox, who as of Tuesday had won six of their last eight games, turning things around for this season, as symbolized by Danks? Or is the Sout’ Side’s ballclub destined to be remembered this season for a groin pull?


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