At least we're not the only corrupt state out there | Bleader

Thursday, July 23, 2009

At least we're not the only corrupt state out there

Posted By on 07.23.09 at 02:33 PM

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My friend Karina is from New Jersey, and like most others I’ve known from that fair state she tends to be prepared for a fight about its relative worth at just about any time.

So she was most appreciative last year when I forwarded her a story from the New York Times that made the case that New Jersey was slowly rehabbing its reputation. As one policy analyst put it: “The much-maligned New Jersey, that malarial swamp south of New York, is rising from the ashes as a leader of progressive government.”

“I'm so glad you sent this to me—I hadn’t seen it. I want to print it out and tape it to myself so everyone can see it,” Karina wrote me. “I don't think you realize just how much of my life is dedicated to defending my home state.”

Besides lessening the chances that Karina would get into a brawl that day, the story succeeded in giving me an edge I really didn’t want in our long-running debate over which of our states was more corrupt—particularly since it was published as the feds were preparing to put Tony Rezko on trial here in Illinois.

By the end of last year, of course, the debate had clearly been settled in my favor, if you want to call it that, as Rezko was imprisoned, his friend Stuart Levine was imprisoned (and banned for life from one of the hotels of his choice), their political ally Rod Blagojevich was arrested, and Roland Burris became a senator despite ongoing questions about how Blago appointed him.

“Corrupt corrupt corrupt!” Karina wrote in December.

Then again, there’s still a stench coming from parts of New Jersey, as today's news reminds us. Two mayors, a deputy mayor, a state legislator, a city council president, and religious leaders were among more than dozen people arrested by the FBI this morning as part of a wide-ranging investigation into money laundering and other crimes.

“Whose state is more corrupt?” Karina wondered in a note this morning that accompanied a link to the New York Post’s coverage of the corruption roundup. “I mean, rabbis? That’s pretty good stuff.”

I was happy to admit that Illinois no longer had such a commanding lead, since it has been nearly two full months since the last indictment of a politician here. Instead we seem to have settled into our more comfortable everyday existence.

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