Lies, deceit, forgery, bribery and nepotism ... that’s the stuff of Illinois politics. If nothing else, Illinois politics are amusing – if not somewhat embarrassing. Our politicians’ antics – and hair – are frequent fodder for late night stand-up comedy routines and “dumb criminal” news segments. There are probably even a few trivia questions based on the not-so-stellar behavior of Illinois politicians.

Lies, deceit, forgery, bribery and nepotism ... that’s the stuff of Illinois politics. If nothing else, Illinois politics are amusing – if not somewhat embarrassing. Our politicians’ antics – and hair – are frequent fodder for late night stand-up comedy routines and “dumb criminal” news segments. There are probably even a few trivia questions based on the not-so-stellar behavior of Illinois politicians.

Now, the latest ousted Illinois governor, Rod Blagojevich, or Blago as we Illinoisans “affectionately” call him, has brought another wart to the face of Illinois politics by declaring himself “blacker” than President Barack Obama. I’m too old to say OMG, but OMG anyway!
I wasn’t aware Blago and Barack were having a “Who’s Blackest?” contest. I didn’t even get to cast my vote on any online poll. While Blago awaits trial for alleged crimes in office, he is planning to be part of Donald Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice” reality TV show. It premieres March 14. I’m sure Blago will make Illinoisans proud because, for once, he won’t have the worse hair in the room.

Even people who don’t live in Illinois but who are just passing through the lovely Land of Lincoln can witness first-hand the lingering effects of Illinois corruption: the Illinois Tollway. In a way, I feel like descendants of slave owners and other relatives of wrong-doers from the past. I feel the need to make restitution to toll payers (but I won’t, in case you considered sending me your I-Pass bill). While some families won’t admit the “sins” of their fathers, my grandfather told me the truth about the Illinois Tollway. It’s all his fault. He voted for it.

How did such a huge project get the support of Illinois voters? I imagine it was sort of a shovel-ready stimulus project for the Greatest Generation.

“It was only supposed to be temporary,” he said with regret as he glanced out the front picture window of his Elgin home. In his golden years, he would pass time sitting and looking out that window, watching car after car stop to toss coins into the tollbooth at the Route 25 exit ramp off of Interstate 90.

Grandpa said the politicians promised the Illinois Tollway would provide jobs, and the tolls would cover salaries and construction costs for a specified number of years, and then the tolls would be eliminated. All that would be left, they said, would be a great highway system throughout Illinois that we could use for free. Grandpa said the tollway plan was tied to patriotism, and it was touted as un-American not to support it.

Grandpa was an “old” 30-something with children when World War II broke out, but enlisted in the Navy anyway. I can’t imagine him voting against anything touted as good for America. I’ve forgiven grandpa his good-faith vote, I hope you can, too.

As we wait to see which candidates will become front-runners in the upcoming election for Illinois governor, I can’t help but  wonder what the winner will bring to the Governor’s mansion. In this unsteady economy, Illinois could really use someone to lead the state with a steady, loyal and legal agenda.

Despite the frequent scandals, Illinois does have a saving grace – undoubtedly something even more unbelievable will occasionally happen in another state and it will draw the eyes of the nation in another direction. As I tell my friend in Wisconsin, the home state of killer/cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer, at least we don’t eat our victims in Illinois.

Lori Kilchermann is assistant managing editor of The Journal-Standard. She was born and raised in Illinois. When she’s not out enjoying all the Land of Lincoln has to offer, she may be reached at lkilchermann@journalstandard.com. This column is the opinion of the writer and not of the newspaper.