|RAUNER: At 12:01 p.m., he's a political nobody|
Those heavy old doors of the Illinois Statehouse, with their ornate door handles bearing the state seal will give Rauner the “swat” on his behind as he walks out for the last time, and there will be many people cheering their “huzzahs!”
YET AS RAUNER departs and new Gov. J.B. Pritzker takes the oath of office to serve for the next four years, I have to admit there are some things the old governor deserves praise for.
There was the Executive Mansion renovation in Springfield. The structure dating back to the days when Abraham Lincoln was a resident of the capital city was in need of serious renovation and repair – made worse by the fact that more recent governors such as Blagojevich and Quinn couldn’t be bothered with the project.
It was Rauner who led the effort that raised some $15 million necessary to ensure the structure continues to have a long life. While also ensuring that he had to spend much of his own term as governor living in a house on the Illinois State Fairgrounds.
Just envision the aromas he had to endure – particularly during the state fair when all the livestock shows were at their peaks. That was bound to be the source of many a gag from people who thought they were hilarious.
|QUINN: Didn't fix the mansion|
ACTUALLY, I KIND of comprehend why the project wasn’t a priority in the days of Pat Quinn as governor. It was during that time that state government spent the millions necessary to do a renovation of the Capitol building.
A project that became very costly and caused many people to whine that Quinn was wasting government funds that could have been put to better use. I don’t doubt that a lot of people would have been lambasting him even more if he had also taken on a governor’s mansion renovation – no matter how necessary.
So it was left to Rauner to take on the project, and he got the work done prior to the official Illinois bicentennial celebration that took place last year. Although it amused me to learn that then-candidate Pritzker actually made a private donation to the fund to help advance the project along.
|BLAGOJEVICH: Pardon backlog a mess|
The bottom line is that Rauner gets credit for ensuring the official mansion and so-called showplace of Illinois government didn’t become too decrepit. That truly would have become an embarrassment.
RAUNER ALSO MANAGED to take care of something else the had become an embarrassment for Illinois. He issued a statement Friday pointing out there is no backlog of convicted individuals asking for some form of gubernatorial clemency.
There are no cases held over from past years for someone else to take care of.
Why is this an issue?
Actually, it’s because when Rod Blagojevich was removed from office by impeachment, one of the problems was we learned that the governor was ignoring the many requests for pardons or commutations that he had the authority to grant – if he so chose.
THERE LITERALLY WERE thousands of individuals whose pleas were made to Blagojevich that he never bothered to address. He was more than willing to play games with those individuals because he didn’t want to be bothered.
|PRITZKER: What will he be noted for?|
Now it’s one thing if you have a governor who seriously does not want to grant a lot of pardons or commutations. But the way Rod just chose to ignore the issue was a disgrace. Which is why many people find it ironic that Blagojevich is seeking clemency from President Donald Trump to get his own prison term (scheduled to end in 2024) reduced to time served.
It would serve him right if Trump just let him linger the way Blagojevich did to many others. But Blagojevich’s fate apparently benefits Trump politically – in that he can P-O many political people who want to see Rod suffer as much as is possible.
Rauner actually managed to work his way through the backlog dating to the Blagojevich years; creating a situation where future governors will just have to clean up their own mess. Although I'm sure the masses amongst us Illinoisans will be more than willing to be outraged at the many issues where our former governor caused problems to develop -- if not escalate to conditions that will take us years to recover from.