The Blagojevich saga has come to an end, until appeals.
This Illinois political corruption drama has played out for over two years. Do you even remember a life before #Blagojevich? It was a different time, one with free rides for seniors and antiquated parking prices.
You are lucky you have me to remind you of what was going on in Chicago around the time that our governor was arrested. Here are some of the big-ticket items that defined Chicago before our favorite big-haired, bushy criminal stole the spotlight:
- The Chicago Tribune filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
- Workers at the Republic Windows & Doors were on day six of a sit-in.
- The City of Chicago made a deal to privatize parking meters.
- Scott Skiles was still coaching the Chicago Bulls.
- The City of Chicago released estimated costs for a 2016 Olympic bid.
- Illinois unemployment was rising to record levels at 7.6% (it is currently at 8.7%)
- There was still a Kanye West owned Fatburger in town.
- President-Elect Barack Obama was on Check Please!
- The National Weather Service said that 2008 had 50.86 inches of rain. Record totals.
The Chicago media was pretty tame on Monday; nobody broke out holograms or any new media technology. There were no touch screens, etc. But, the Tribune company did gas up their helicopter and tracked Blagojevich to and from the courtroom -- on live television. It was our very own O.J. Now, it was at least interesting to watch the car cruise down the Kennedy, but was it worth it? Does this former governor really deserve a chase-like media atmosphere on a major city expressway? I don't remember wall-to-wall helicopter coverage of George Ryan's verdict. So you got that going for ya, Blago. You are more popular than the last convicted governor.
But wait; don't decommission that helicopter just yet. Chicago Magazine's Carol Felsenthal says there is enough fodder for a retrial.
Interesting move to have the jurors speak to the media right afterwards. Has that ever happened? I guess it's better than reporters going door to door to find them. But not all the jurors talked to the media. They just kept quiet in the box or didn't make a statement at all. And that's where WBEZ's Rob Wildeboer comes in. See, Rob knew that they would be bused to the neighboring train stations. So he brought his bike down and quietly staked out the federal court service entrance. The bus came out, Rob followed and got some great tape from Union Station, talking to the jurors about this experience, less about the verdict. Now, the helicopter should have followed Rob, following the jury bus.
I might write a screenplay today called "Jury Bus." Sounds like a romcom to me.
Winners of this trial: Law professors. Instead of summering and planting flowers outside their palatial estates, they had to answer the call of duty and comment on the lawyers and the trial and tell TV anchors how an appeal works. Over and over and over.
So can U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald finally run for something? He looked angry yesterday. Angry enough to take on the U.S. Senate! Also, he might be the only prosecutor in history to snag governors. I smell a reality show "Fitz: Governor Hunter." I'm writing that treatment today too.
INTERIOR/BASEMENT: Fitzy leans back on a old, squeaky office chair. He's listening to recorded phone conversations, with big, old-school headphones. He springs up and slams the pause button.
Fitzy: "This guy wants a meeting with who?????"
CUE THEME SONG
And scene. That's just a taste. I'll be in Hollywood next week for meetings.
The downside to all this madness is that now the Springfield legislator is vindicated. If you remember, before the big arrest and trial and conviction, Blagojevich was in a heated battle against his downstate colleagues. Same party, too. So when he was arrested, they bounced him. He said it was political, they took moral high ground. He went on the radio and said they were all shady and they used his name to try and win elections. But now this conviction must mean that those legislators were correct? They all put out statements yesterday, fanning the flames. They should put the whole system on trial. And I'm not the only one that thinks that. The guy downstairs at Billy Goat agrees with me.
You know what this trial needed? Sam Adam Sr. and Sam Adam Jr. Chicago Tonight snatched Jr. for their panel last night. That's how you do it. Honestly, that's the only guy (and his Dad) that I want to hear from. Give them a full hour. Like Charlie Rose style. Or get rid of Rose and let them interview each other. Or do something like a variety show.
Man, I'm on fire. New TV show idea: "The Adam's Family Variety Hour."