The tenth day of jury deliberations resulted in the highly anticipated verdict of the re-trial of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. Speculation was put to rest when the jury returned finding Blagojevich guilty of seventeen of the eighteen counts decided, as the jury remained deadlocked on two counts. The former governor was found guilty in all eleven counts in relation to the attempt to sell Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat. These convictions come in addition to being found guilty of making false statements to the FBI, which he was convicted of in the first trial.
Yesterday’s verdict was exciting for us. It wasn’t the breathless helicopter footage of Blagojevich driving to and from the courthouse that invigorated us. Rather, it was the robust conversation that happened across the state after the verdict was read that gave us hope that change may one day come to Illinois. Television pundits debated our expectations of our elected officials. Newspaper columnists opined on our peculiar tacit approval of “politics as usual” and pointed to signs this approval is wavering. Governor Quinn pushed public financing as a way to address the consequences of the runaway costs of campaigning. Citizens discussed the electoral process with the Blagojevich verdict acting as conversation starter and backdrop. In the coming days, we expect more talk. We could say, having listened to Blagojevich on the stand, that talk is cheap. We believe, however, that talk can turn to positive action. As the conversation on improving our state evolves, we look forward to a more and efficient and accountable government.