At least one Blago didn’t show arrogance, cockiness and stupidity

  • Written by Ray Hanania

Hanania-GrapevineRobert Blagojevich is the brother of Rod Blagojevich, the former Illinois Governor whose loud-mouth and arrogant style pretty much guaranteed his conviction and one of the most outrageously long and unjustified prison sentences ever handed down in an Illinois political case.
But the real tragedy is how the U.S. Government, backed by the bullying of a cabal of politicians and news media who hated the governor, persecuted his brother Robert hoping to beat him up so badly he would testify against the Governor.
Robert Blagojevich, a former decorated military veteran who lives in Nashville, was targeted by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald with no real evidence and dragged before one of the most unfair, but media-loved Illinois judges, James Zagel.
It was sneaky. Robert Blagojevich details it all in his riveting new book that just came out called “Fundraiser A: My Fight for Freedom and Justice.”
You need to buy it and read it.
It’s that good.
Bill Cellini was being prosecuted before Zagel, who has been criticized as being pro-prosecution. Fitzgerald had the Blagojevich brothers added to the Cellini case, not because they were related. Cellini petitioned to be removed and that’s how the Blagojevich’s ended up before Zagel, one of the most politically driven and biased judges on the bench.
I listened to Robert Blagojevich as he detailed the government corruption he faced during a dinner hosted in honor of the 149th Founders Day Anniversary of the Theta Chi Fraternity.  Both Blagojevich brothers were Theta Chis. I was there too.
I was shocked.
The Blagojevich prosecution is one of the great injustices in Illinois politics, driven not by facts but by persecution, emotion and political rivalry.
But while Rod Blagojevich conducted one of the most idiotic and ineffective publicity campaigns I have ever seen in 40 years of journalism and media consulting, Robert took the advice of his capable Palos Heights attorney, Michael Ettinger.
 Ettinger told him not to speak to the Justice Department.
Keep your mouth shut.
I am amazed how suspects in criminal reality shows so willingly bury themselves with arrogance, cockiness and stupidity. When you tell something to the Justice Department but later change or correct it, you can be charged with perjury.
Fitzgerald had to go after Rod and Robert Blagojevich twice because in the first trial the jury deadlocked on Robert (9 to 3) and found Rod guilty of only one charge of “making false statements,” or perjury.
Fitzgerald tried another trick to convince Robert to separate himself from the Governor in a retrial, so the governor’s impending conviction would weigh heavily on the second trial of Robert. But Ettinger and Robert Blagojevich refused, insisting that the two be tried together, again.
Eventually, Robert Blagojevich’s refusal to take a deal or be tried separately forced Fitzgerald to back down and drop all charges against Robert. But not before the U.S. Attorney destroyed his life.
The trial cost Robert Blagojevich more than $1 million, and two years of anguish. It was brutal.
He never got an apology from Fitzgerald that he deserves, or compensation from the government or Judge Zagel for the injustice they perpetrated.
The book is the only way Robert Blagojevich can really get justice. You can help him get justice by buying the book and learning about where the real corruption is in Illinois.

 Ray Hanania is an award-winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and media consultant. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Despite a bout with polio, Roosevelt was able to walk the walk as president

  • Written by Don C. White


Editor’s note: Last week, Palos Hills historian Don C. White looked at Abraham Lincoln, whose death occurred 150 years ago this month. This week, he looks at Franklin D. Roosevelt, who died 70 years ago this month.

Let’s turn now to our 32nd president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He came from a much different back ground than Abraham Lincoln our 16th president.
Roosevelt graduated from Harvard,then studied law at Columbia University. He did not finish his studies at Columbia, but did pass the bar and worked for a while at a law firm in New York City.
He became interested in politics and ran for the state senate in upstate New York and won.
In 1912, FDR won re-election to the state senate, but did not serve out his term. He was asked to serve as assistant secretary of the Navy in the Wilson administration and accepted.
Then in 1920 the Democratic Party tapped him to run as a vice presidential candidate with James Cox. They lost to Republican Warren Harding. FDR then took a job in the private sector as vice president of Fidelity and Deposit Company. During the summer of 1921 while on a family vacation at Campobello Island, Roosevelt came down with poliomyelitis – polio -- which in the 1920’s was a terrifying and rampant disease.
Roosevelt never fully recovered the full use of his legs and spent much of the rest of his life in a wheelchair. He never gave up hope and through years of painful rehabilitation he did regain some of his lost mobility. He learned to walk by using his hips to swing his atrophied legs forward. For the remaining 24 years of his life he would need the assistance of canes, leg braces, wheelchairs, his family and aides.
Throughout the rest of his life he never lost his zest for life or his confidence. He was back in politics by 1922 aiding fellow Democrat Alfred Smith, first with his campaign for governor of New York, then in his bid for president in 1924 and 1928. With Smith’s encouragement, Roosevelt ran for governor of New York and was elected in 1928 and again in 1930.

These are true POST-er children for bravery

  • Written by Claudia Parker


Claudia Mug Shot-ColorI believe our lives are most useful when used to serve others. My heart’s intention is to seek opportunities where my strengths are welcome and utilized.
Advocate Children’s Hospital-Oak Lawn fed that hungry desire, by inviting me and 28 other avid runners, to mentor 29 cancer survivors from their Pediatric Oncology Survivorship Transition (POST) clinic.
The goal is to mentor children who have battled pediatric cancer and to participate in the Eighth Annual Running for Hope 5K run/walk on June 7. Each Tuesday evening, training sessions will include: warm-up, walk and/or run, cool down, stretching, and a “running homework” assignment.
Linda Rivard is an ACH Registered Nurse for Pediatric Hematology and Oncology. She’s the POST clinic coordinator.
“Our adolescents and young DR-Page-12-with-claudias-columnOrland Park’s Billy Rivard who was diagnosed with Leukemia at age five, poses with his mother Linda. Submitted photo.adults who’ve been through chemotherapy and radiation can have late effects,’’ Rivard said. “The POST Clinic began in 2004 to help detect and minimize possible negative effects that arise from treatment.”
Rivard has professional and personal experience with pediatric cancer. Her son, Billy, was diagnosed with Leukemia at age five. After receiving treatment, he went into remission but relapsed at age eight, warranting a full bone marrow transplant by age nine.
“Billy had total body radiation,” Rivard said. “The treatment saved his life, but it was hard on his body. He’s had a kidney transplant, multiple skin cancers and his thyroid removed. He also has a suppressed immune system. Billy’s complications aren’t typical; he’s more of an exception. However post care is critical, it can prevent loss of life and increase a survivor’s quality of life.”
Billy persevered and is now 24 years old. On May 2, he will graduate from Western Michigan University with a degree in secondary education with an emphasis in biology.
Bring on the Kleenex -- those who know Billy’s backstory probably won’t have a dry eye come graduation day.
It could be boo-hoo in Kalamazoo. But that’s a good thing.
Rivard partnered with ACH Manager of Child Life Services Lisa Boland, in starting the POST Challenge back in 2008, one year after Boland and three other co-founders began the Running for Hope 5K Race/Walk.
“I was running with a friend one day and we were reflecting on everything families affected by cancer go through. We wanted to find a way to help so we decided to organize a race to see if we could raise any money to support them,” said Boland. “Our first race was in 2007 and we raised 50,000.”

A look at Lincoln – but don’t call him Abe

  • Written by Don C. White

 History-Don-White-logoIn years past, I have written about the anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s death. 

Wednesday was the 150th anniversary of that sad occasion. Sunday was the 70th anniversary of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s death. In May, I am doing a display at the Green Hills Library in Palos Hills to honor these two fine presidents.
Let’s start with Lincoln. The first thing to tell you is that Mr. Lincoln did not like to be called Abe, so I won’t do that again. Most people who knew him in Illinois just called him Lincoln or Mr. Lincoln. His wife always called him Mr. Lincoln. While at the White House his secretaries called him the “Tycoon.”
Most of us know about Lincoln’s early years in Kentucky and Indiana.
He and his family moved to Illinois just as he reached his majority age of 21. His education was limited to a total of one year spread out over a few years. By the age of 28, he had already been elected to his second term in the Illinois State legislature. The year of 1837 would also see him be licensed to practice law in Illinois. By this time he had lived one half of his life.
Fast forward to 1860, and we find Mr. Lincoln traveling to New York in February to give a speech at the Cooper Union. Many historians have said this was the most important speech of his life so far. And I would agree. By November of 1860, he would be elected our 16th president and reelected in November 1864.

Chicago mayoral election was never close

  • Written by Ray Hanania

 Hanania-GrapevineThe nice thing about living in the suburbs, is that we’re laid back and we are armchair quarterbacks. 

We don’t want to live in Chicago, but we love to talk about it. And explain what’s wrong with it, too. We love to talk about Chicago elections because for the most part, suburban elections are so boring.
That’s why voter turnout last week in Chicago was about 40 percent, while the turn in the suburbs hovered around 11 percent in many races.
So, if you don’t care about suburban races, why should I waste my time writing about them?
Last week, Mayor Rahm Emanuel easily won re-election, even though for most of the past eight months, everyone was saying he was in trouble and that Cook County Commissioner Jesus Chuy Garcia was a potential threat to unseat him.
But in the end, Mayor Emanuel won a landslide victory over Garcia, and it’s worth looking at why. Emanuel received 55 percent of the vote and Garcia got 45 percent. Where I come from (40 years of covering Chicago elections) that’s an enormous landslide in a hotly contested race
Emanuel had more money. Garcia raised a whopping $5 million, in a large part because he had some heavyweights on his side, like the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and the Service Employees International Union.
But Emanuel raised $30 million and he didn’t spend it all.
The campaign ads went back and forth bashing each other and like Emanuel, Garcia never really said what he would do any different. But while an incumbent can blah, blah, blah his (or her) way through an election, a challenger can’t. They need to say specifically what they would do differently to justify why voters should oust an incumbent.
The only real message that came out of the election is that Emanuel was “humbled,” and he promised to “change.”
Yeah, right. Like any mayor of a major American city will change anything.
The real problem is that Chuy was just not that popular. He claimed to have the mantle of the old Harold Washington coalition, but the fact is many if not most African Americans voted for Emanuel. Why? Because Chuy was more about perception and less about substance.
The two worst problems are interrelated. Schools and crime. Chicago’s schools are sending more students to street gang careers than college, and so far no one has come up with a real idea on how to change it. I’ve suggested the only solution, forcing homeowners and residents to roll up their sleeves and become more involved in their neighborhoods, but neither Emanuel nor Garcia thought that was worth exploring.
It works in many suburbs where gang crimes have dropped significantly.
Chuy is hero among his supporters, but that won’t win many elections. I doubt seriously if he can run and win the office of Cook County Board President, if President Toni Preckwinkle decides not to run for re-election. He certainly can’t beat her.
But the interesting casualty of this election may be Garcia’s “close pal,” Congressman Luis Gutierrez.
Congressman Gutierrez’s district is 18 percent Puerto Rican, and more than 70 percent Mexican American. The fact that Gutierrez wouldn’t support his Mexican American ally might prompt Mexican American voters to abandon Gutierrez.
Now that would be an election worth seeing.
Ray Hanania is a former Chicago City Hall reporter and President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media consulting. Reach him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .