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Corrupt Chicago machine cannot be curbed without Fitzgerald remaining US Attorney

Matt Belcher [Belcher Law Office, Chicago]: "If it weren't so gallingly embarrassing to the city of Big Shoulders, I would just laugh off the (alleged) Blagojevich exploits as another operatic example of the machine politics of the "Chicago way." For those of you not versed in the "Chicago way" please take note that it is very much like the "Alaska way," the "New Orleans way," the "Detroit way," - but with a homozygous, inbred twist.

While Alaska has had a better part of 10 scandals (including the conviction of a sitting U.S. Senator), Chicago is unique because of the Obama factor. Just when the bright lights of fame and fortune start to shine upon the glory that is Chicago, out scurry some cockroaches to contaminate our floor. Before the green grass splendor of our beloved Grant Park has even re-sprouted from the trampling, historic celebration of the Obama victory party, out into the open air comes another dirty family secret. Much like the Union Stockyards of the olden days (think Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle") there is a stench in the air that Chicago residents can't even smell anymore.

While Blagojevich was little known outside of Illinois, he has been involved in the Chicago machine at least since 1996; the year he was essentially "slated" by his father-in-law, 30-year veteran Alderman Dick Mell, to be the next U.S. Representative of the 5th Illinois Congressional District.

"5th Congressional District"...why does that sound familiar, you ask? Well that is the current Congressional seat of Rahm Emanuel, who had taken over the 5th District seat from Blagojevich, after Blagojevich was elected Governor. It's also the same seat occupied by Dan Rostenkowski until 1995. Yes, that Dan Rostenkowski...of the Oxford Federal Correctional Institution Rostenkowskis.

And who preceded Blagojevich as Governor of Illinois? Well that would be George Ryan. You know - of the Terre Haute Federal Correctional Institution Ryans.

And the Attorney General of the State of Illinois? The one whose legal strategy to have the Governor declared "incompetent" was summarily dismissed by the Illinois Supreme Court (but managed to get her plenty of face time on the Sunday Morning news circuit) — that would be Lisa Madigan. Madigan happens to be daughter of Mike Madigan, the Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives and Chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois, who (allegedly) delayed the Illinois impeachment process to give the AG's office a shot at publicity before the Supreme Court. Lisa Madigan is planning her next run for higher office, whether for Governor or U.S. Senate.

And what about Senate Candidate 5? The one (allegedly) whose emissaries offered Blagojevich up to a million dollars for Obama's U.S. Senate seat? ABC news says that it appears to be none other than Jesse Jackson, Jr. The same Jessie Jackson, Jr. who is the brother of the Chicago Anheuser-Busch Distributor Yousaf Jackson, the son of the Rev. Jesse Jackson and the wife of Chicago's 7th ward Alderman Sandi Jackson. Jessie Jackson, much like Lisa Madigan and Rod Blagojevich before him, became the Democratically slated candidate for 2nd U.S. Congressional District in 1995 and he continues in that office today.

Jesse Jackson, Jr. replaced Mel Reynolds in the 2nd Congressional District after Reynolds was indicted for sexual assault and criminal sexual abuse with an underage campaign volunteer. Despite the indictment, Reynolds was reelected in November 1994 but resigned his seat in 1995 after being convicted on 12 counts of sexual assault, obstruction of justice and solicitation of child pornography.

So what to make of all this?

This inbred, interdependent and yet internecine "machine" hands out favors, holds personal vendettas, renders quids with quos like a pro and generally disregards, destroys or disassembles anything except that which makes the machine stronger.

The only possible solution to "terminate" the machine is someone who is not beholden to, related to, friends with, associated with or otherwise contaminated by the machine. On October 24, 2001, the nomination of a candidate for U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois was confirmed by the Senate. The Senator who nominated the candidate urged the selection principally because the candidate was not from Chicago. The candidate was a Harvard law school graduate from Brooklyn whose previous relationship with Chicago consisted of a one-day visit for a wedding in 1982. The citizens of Chicago appreciate that U.S. Attorneys serve at the appointment of the President. The citizens of Chicago realize that U.S. Attorneys offer their resignations when a new President takes office.

However, I submit to you as a loyal Obama contributor of money, time and moral support that Patrick Fitzgerald's resignation should not, cannot, and must not be accepted if we are ever to rid Chicago of the machine politics of old - and give this great city and the nation the "change" we need to believe in.

So please join me by spreading the news - the citizens of Chicago want and need Pat Fitzgerald to stay and finish the job!"

Opinions expressed in JURIST Commentary are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of JURIST's editors, staff, donors or the University of Pittsburgh.

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