Paperwork filed today by prosecutors in the office of U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald requests that a federal judge sentence former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich to 15 to 20 years in prison.
Judge James Zagel is scheduled to hold Blagojevich’s sentencing hearing Tuesday. Blagojevich was convicted of 18 counts of corruption, including an attempt to profit from naming someone to the U.S. Senate seat vacated when Barack Obama became president.
Defense attorneys, by contrast, spent the past week asking that Zagel allow the playing of taped phone conversations they hope will cast Blagojevich in a positive light. They want Blagojevich released on probation, with no prison time.
Former Gov. George Ryan was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison after he was convicted of corruption. Blagojevich was elected as Ryan was leaving office. The Chicago Democrat portrayed himself as a reformer who would end the pay-to-play tradition in Illinois politics.
Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich is ahead in several polls that look at the Republican presidential nomination process.
Gingrich was in second place a year ago when he had a 14.4 percent following to trail Mitt Romney’s 22.6 percent showing. Gingrich’s numbers seemed to swoon to a low of 4.4 percent around Labor Day. Romney was in first place until late August when Rick Perry took the lead for a couple of weeks. Then Herman Cain came on to lead during part of October.
Realclearpolitics has a telling graphic that shows how Romney’s numbers have been pretty consistent, while other candidates’ numbers have been up and down.
U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., criticized former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich this week for having the “most liberal” immigration stance in the Republican presidential field.
During an interview with Jeffrey Brown of the PBS Newshour, Bachmann talked about issues ranging from interrogation techniques to the failure of the supercommittee. She said President Obama was AWOL when the debt debate began and “had no plan” for cutting the deficit.
Drivers will have another incentive to travel along the newly completed four-lane U.S. 36, if Missouri Department of Transportation Director Kevin Keith succeeds in turning I-70 into a toll road.
Keith told the Kansas City Star on Wednesday that charging tolls on the nation’s oldest interstate highway would generate the funds to repair it. I-70 crosses the state between St. Louis and Kansas City and is badly deteriorated and crowded in many areas.
“Tolling is a viable financing option for infrastructure. As we sit here today with the resources available to us, it may be the only option we have to pay for it,” Keith told the Star.
As noted before, Missouri’s transportation funding is now about $600 million — or about half what it was just a year or two ago. MoDOT moved forward with cost-cutting moves this year that are designed to save more than $500 million by 2015 and put those dollars into highway and bridge improvements.
President Barack Obama won a second term in office and Hillary Clinton edged out current vice president Joe Biden — during the Western Illinois University Mock Presidential Election.
Political science Professor Rick Hardy, the executive co-director of the mock election, said the Republican ticket of Mitt Romney and Ron Paul and the Green party’s Jill Stein/Kent Mesplay got votes between October 25 and Nov. 7.
Hardy has been holding mock elections in schools for nearly 40 years and said many of the students become very involved in the process.
WIU President Jack Thomas touted the school’s mock presidential election as the largest student-run event of its kind in the United States.
The election divided student blocks into states and the Obama/Clinton ticket obtained the 270 Electoral College votes to win the mock election. Romney/Paul got 124 votes and Stein/Mesplay trailed “closely behind” according to one WIU blogger. Vote totals were not spelled out on most reports.
A report by the Illinois auditor general indicates there may be too many state-owned vehicles and there are lax usage standards in many agencies.
In a synopsis within the 338-page report that came out Thursday, researchers said there were 16,592 vehicles in the state fleet during fiscal 2010, with 5,375 assigned to individual employees and 5,150 of those were authorized to be taken home. An outgrowth of the take-home provision meant that 30 percent of all mileage put on vehicles was for commuting — which generally is not eligible for reimbursement.
Central Management Services accountants calculated that vehicles need to be driven at least 18,000 miles per year to justify state ownership. In cases where those mileage levels were not achieved, auditors said it would be less expensive to reimburse state employees to use their own cars.
Total expenditures for purchase, repair and operation of state vehicles was $121 million in fiscal 2010.
This is likely to become a big issue in the Legislature in the next year.
Alan Simpson, a former U.S. senator from Wyoming, said deficits are a financial cancer that will wreck the nation’s economy.
Simpson, a Republican, criticizes both Republicans and Democrats for failing to fix the federal deficit. Simpson is former co-chairman of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.
“The American people know the fiscal path that Washington is on is not sustainable. These deficits are like a cancer. They’re going to destroy the country from within,” Simpson said.
In a candid interview with Fox News, Simpson said the commission he co-chaired with Erskine Bowles, President Bill Clinton’s Chief of Staff, recommended changes in the tax code, cuts in entitlement spending and other measures to bring down the deficits. Those measures have not been formally accepted by Congress or the White House.
Similar proposals by a Super Committee in Congress, made up of six Republicans and six Democrats, have gained little traction. The Super Committee is tasked with cutting $1.5 trillion from federal deficits, but few people expect it to succeed.
When Politico first reported that two female employees of the National Restaurant Association filed allegations that Herman Cain took part in inappropriate behavior in the 1990s. Cain denied there was sexual harassment.
Later, Cain said he remembered some things, but gave conflicting comments to the news media. This week he has turned to criticizing Texas Gov. Rick Perry for “orchestrating the release” of this information.
The point here is that the political playbook is being followed to the letter.
The first rule is to “deny, deny, deny” as former President Bill Clinton told his people when the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke.
There often comes a point, however, when the denials are no longer enough. Consultants and handlers tell politicians when it’s impossible to deny charges, they should fess up only in the most general terms. They advise admitting there was an incident, but telling people it has been overblown. Better yet, say the charges were found to be totally false.
Next, the consultants say when you’re under attack, you must attack your attackers. In this case Perry is the easy target because one of his campaign workers used to work with Cain’s Senate campaign and had been briefed on the possible bombshell in Cain’s past.
The big question is whether being the source of a negative report is as damaging as being he person in the report.