Saturday, August 18, 2012

At least the Ill. House didn’t drag the Derrick Smith affair out all afternoon

It seems that at least for the next five months, Derrick Smith is just another person who lives on Chicago’s West Side. He loses the “state Rep.” before his name, and the “D-Chicago” after it.
SMITH: Gone (for now)

Because the Illinois House of Representatives went ahead and gave Smith the boot. He is expelled from the House seat to which he was appointed last year to fill a vacancy. The powers-that-be in Chicago will have to come up with a replacement for the seat through January – which is when the term will end.

BUT LET’S NOT forget that Smith won the Democratic primary back in March. He remains on the ballot, and could easily manage to get himself re-elected to his own two-year term beginning next year.

Not that I think Smith will survive through two more years in the Legislature.

Because while the legislators would not be permitted to expel him a second time for this same cause (the charges he faces in U.S. District Court that say he accepted bribes as an Illinois House member), there is the fact that those charges will eventually come to trial – or force Smith to accept a “guilty” plea.

Either way, it is likely that Smith could someday face prison time. That is what ultimately will get rid of him from the political scene.

WHICH IS WHY I am inclined to think of Friday’s special session to consider Smith’s expulsion as being nothing more than an excuse for other legislators to bloviate about the need for high morals – while doing little of substance.

The 100-6 vote that was cast for Smith’s expulsion? Smith told reporter-types at his attorney's office Friday afternoon that he now knows who his friends are.

Pure hot air! Both from Smith and the Illinois House. It makes me think that Springfield, Ill., is now competing with Chicago for its long-held “title” of “the Windy City.”
RILEY: Not a knee-jerk reaction

If anything, I think the legislator I have the most respect for these days is state Rep. Al Riley, D-Olympia Fields.

WHEN THE ILLINOIS House Select Committee on Discipline issued a report this summer recommending Smith’s expulsion, Riley was the lone member who voted against it.

He said at the time that he believes it should be up to the people of that legislative district whether Smith should continue to represent them up until the point he has a criminal conviction on his record.

Since then, he has told reporter-types that he wishes there were some lesser penalty Smith could suffer rather than expulsion.

In short, Riley didn’t feel the need to bloviate, or get all pompous and wind-bagged with his rhetoric. In fact, Riley wasn’t among the “100” or “6” on the roll call. He didn’t cast a vote of any kind. Not even a “present” or an “abstention.”

EVEN IF YOU seriously are of the mindset that Smith must go, you have to admit there is something worthy of respect in a legislator who put some thought into this issue and how he would act on it.

Of course, it helps that Riley comes from a safe south suburban district. He’s not likely to get any grief for not jumping on the “expulsion” bandwagon.

I’m also pleased that the Illinois House just acted on Friday. They didn’t feel the need to draw this out. A part of me honestly didn’t expect an action until late afternoon. Yet it was shortly after 1 p.m. that I learned what happened.
TYSON: A new legislator?

Perhaps the legislators were more interested in going through the motions of pretending to act on pension funding reform, while doing nothing.

BUT BACK TO Smith, who may well decide to regain his House seat out of spite to the political establishment that has created an alternative political party in that legislative district, and has picked former Todd Stroger chief of staff Lance Tyson to run against him.

I suspect Tyson will be the person picked to finish the remainder of Smith’s term so he can have something resembling the “aura” of an incumbent. But you just know some people will turn this into a campaign between an indicted politico and an aide to a politico some people desperately want to believe will be indicted someday.

What an ugly mess!

It makes me wonder how inept the Republican candidate in that district truly was if she was unable to stay on the ballot against this campaign field.


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