Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Do we have our priorities confused?

It is on days like Monday that I wonder the point of reporting the news, since the priorities for what is significant can become so convoluted.
PETERSON: Too much attention!!!

For there are many of us in the newsgathering business who are wetting our pants in anticipation of the fact that Drew Peterson (the suburban Bolingbrook cop whom many suspect keeps killing his young wives) is going on trial.

IT BEGINS TUESDAY in Will County Circuit Court in Joliet, and the downtown area is going to become a madhouse for the next few weeks – primarily because the small city really isn’t designed for the scale of the lunacy that is going to crop up in coming weeks.

Personally, I’m glad this case is finally going to trial. It has bothered me that it took sooooooo long (nearly three full years) before we got to this point. But I also feel fortunate NOT to be covering this particular story.

Because it will be way too easy to get caught up in the hype and the ill-will,, as there are many people who only view this case as a legal travesty because Peterson wasn’t found guilty a long time ago of the death of wife number three.

These are the people who aren’t the least bit bothered by the fact that this case will rely on so much circumstantial evidence that there are many legal scholars predicting that it might not hold up.

WE SHOULD ALL brace ourselves for the fact that a “not guilty” verdict is very possible, along with the eventual sight of a smug Drew Peterson sauntering out of the courthouse proclaiming victory, innocence, and perhaps even revenge against those who “did him wrong!”

Although even if prosecutors are able to take all the hearsay and third-party evidence and use it to convict Peterson (thereby officially turning him into a corrupt cop who went to prison), then we’d have to put up with the insufferable cheering of people whose mentality is only one level (maybe a level-and-a-half) removed from a lynch mob.

It won’t be a pretty tale that will emanate from Joliet in coming weeks. It will bother me even more than the whole disappearance of Stacey Peterson always has.
QUINN: Bad timing?

There is a part of me that really wishes she were alive and merely hiding from a husband who (from all glimpses) was an overbearing jerk.

BECAUSE THAT WOULD mean Stacey came to her senses and dumped Drew – which I’m sure is such a blow to his ego that he won’t ever fully recover from. Even if he winds up leaving the Chicago area for some rural Florida community near a beach where he eventually takes up with Wife Five (and maybe even Six), getting younger and younger as the years progress for him.

That tawdry end is probably what the Drew Petersons of the world really deserve. Not the attention of the world that he’s going to get in coming weeks.

Although there is a story that I wish could get such attention. But it won’t.

It is the tale concerning Illinois state government and the flawed way in which it funds the programs that cover pensions for retired employees and public school educators outside of Chicago.

IT IS A mess. It is a significant part of the reason why the state’s finances are a mess. Yet officials didn’t bother to do much of anything during their spring legislative session, and they knew they could get away with it because the average public didn’t care.

So when I learned that Gov. Pat Quinn on Monday issued the order saying that the General Assembly must return to Springfield on Aug. 17 at 1 p.m. to consider (and approve) a solution to the mess, I became skeptical.

Because unless there is a solution negotiated by Quinn and the legislative leaders, all that the legislators will do is sit around for a few minutes, then go home. They’ll claim there’s nothing for them to do.

And I’m not the least bit convinced that the legislative leaders are anywhere near close to having a solution in place that the rank-and-file of the General Assembly could even consider voting on.

IF ANY OF you think that the mere presence of the legislators at the Statehouse will force something to be done, you probably also believe that there’s a decent human being lurking somewhere in the body of Drew Peterson.

It won’t happen. If anything, Quinn may have made a mistake by picking that date.
SMITH: More interesting than pensions?

Because Aug. 17 is already the date that the Illinois House is supposed to come back to Springfield to consider the fate of state Rep. Derrick Smith, D-Chicago, who faces federal charges alleging he took bribes in exchange for his government services.

That issue, and all of its rants and rages and cheap rhetoric, will dominate the Legislature’s attention span.

I’D BE WILLING to bet anything that what little public attention is paid to state government that day will go toward whether or not Smith got kicked out of the Legislature. Nobody’s going to care whether or not the pension problem got fixed that day.

And in all likelihood, if the activity in the Drew Peterson trial is particularly feisty that day (it may still be going on by mid-August), even Derrick Smith will be an afterthought.


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