Illinois gets bad press over governor’s arrest, association says
Media reporting on Tuesday’s arrest of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich on federal corruption charges is misrepresenting the state as a hotbed of corruption, according to the DeKalb, Ill.-based Illinois City/County Management Association (ILCMA) and the Washington-based International City/County Management Association (ICMA). Also, President-elect Barack Obama told the press that no members of his staff had had contact with Blagojevich about the governor’s search for Obama’s replacement in the Senate, which is at the heart of the federal charges, and he reiterated his call for Blagojevich to resign.
FBI agents arrested Blagojevich and his Chief of Staff John Harris after investigators recorded several telephone conversations in which the governor allegedly discussed obtaining well-paying jobs for himself and his wife, and promises of campaign funds, including cash up front, in exchange for Obama’s vacated seat, according to United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois Patrick Fitzgerald. News coverage of the arrest has given the impression that Illinois is one of the most corrupt states in the nation, according to the ILCMA/ICMA statement.
Illinois’ creation of a council-manager structure of government in the early 1900s was intended to address the corruption that plagued the U.S. government at that time. “Thanks to these reforms, today there are literally hundreds of cities, counties and villages across Illinois that have hired professional managers who are committed to ethical, transparent and responsive local government,” the statement reads. “From East Dubuque to Lake County to Carbondale, the professionals who manage our cities and counties voluntarily agree to abide by a stringently enforced code of ethics, established in 1924 by the [ICMA].” ILCMA President Patrick Urich and the association’s Executive Director Dawn Peters, along with ICMA President David Limardi and Executive Director Robert O’Neill, signed the statement, which is available at http://www.ilcma.org/ and http://www.icma.org/.
In a press conference Thursday, Obama said his former seat in the Senate, which he had to give up after winning the presidential election, is not for “any politician to trade,” and said he had not spoken to Blagojevich about the search for his Senate replacement. He also, again, suggested that Blagojevich, who has returned to work after posting bail, should step down. “Let me be absolutely clear: I do not think that the governor, at this point, can effectively serve the people of Illinois,” Obama said.