A golden idea: Make Blagojevich drive a bus for seniors
By RICHARD ROEPER firstname.lastname@example.org December 5, 2011 11:12AM
Updated: January 7, 2012 8:07AM
“I f------ busted my ass and ... gave your grandmother a free ride ... and what do I get for that? Only 13 percent of you all out there think I’m doing a good job. So f--- all of you.” — Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
For weeks now I’ve been saying I’d rather see Rod Blagojevich spend three years giving free bus rides to grandmothers than spend time in prison.
I’m not kidding. Give him a year or two in prison, and then let Blago get the necessary training to acquire a bus driver’s permit and put him to work Monday through Friday, giving seniors free rides.
Evenings, he can lecture at a class or two. Imagine the lessons he could teach in a Criminal Justice or Political Science or Mass Media class.
Throw in a 300 hours of weekend community service to be performed over the next few years, and we’ll call it a day.
Blago behind bars
Too lenient? I’m nuts? I hear ya. But I don’t know. We’re talking apples and oranges and California and Illinois, but in a country where Dr. Conrad Murray gets four years and will serve much less than that for contributing to Michael Jackson’s death, seems out of whack for Blago to serve a dozen years or more.
When Blago co-conspirator Tony Rezko was sentenced to 10½ years, the writing was on the prison wall for the ousted governor. As prosecutors pointed out, Rezko was a behind-the-scenes crooked character, never elected by the people. If Rezko gets 10+ years, how can the judge give Blago a lighter sentence? Here’s a guy who kept telling voters he was going to change the climate of corruption in Illinois, and he winds up impeached, convicted of 17 counts of corruption and the butt of a thousand late-night comedy jokes.
The prosecution is asking for a 15-20 year sentence, and Blagojevich would serve 85 percent of that, meaning he’d be well into his 70s before he sees the light of day.
Dan Walker got seven years, and served a year and a half before he was released for health issues. Otto Kerner got three years, but served less than a year due to ill health. George Ryan got 6½ years, was imprisoned in 2007 and is still behind bars. Blagojevich is going to spend more time in prison than the sentences served by all three of those men together.
We all know what Blago did, or at least what he tried to do. We rolled our eyes and snorted as Blagojevich worked the media, yapping away with Letterman and the ladies of “The View,” quoting Kipling and Elvis, comparing himself to maligned heroes of the past, doing the TV commercial and the celebrity reality show.
We heard the tapes. We cringed when the governor of Illinois complained about his crappy job and said the world was passing him by while he was stuck running our little state. We heard Blago’s delusional fantasies about appointing Oprah to the Senate seat or getting himself a Cabinet position in return for giving the seat to Barack Obama’s hand-picked favorite.
We heard Blagojevich say, “I’ve got this thing and it’s f------ golden. ...I’m not giving it up for f------ nothing.” We heard him talk about naming himself the senator.
He was crude and crass and corrupt. He was an embarrassment to the state. But should he really do more time than hundreds if not thousands of violent criminals?
Look at Rod Blagojevich’s life right now. He’s been stripped of his law license. He was impeached and removed from office by a vote of 114-1. He’s broke. His house is for sale. His daughters have seen their father become a disgrace and punch line. His obituary will lead with his criminal convictions. In the court of public opinion, he’s already been sentenced to a lifetime of disgrace.
Yes, Blagojevich did all that to himself, and has no one to blame but himself. But given the price he’s already paid and the fact he was arrested before he could execute one of his wacky plans to sell the Senate seat, I have no great desire to see the guy serve 15-20 years in prison.
Throw him onto the bus.