According to the Springfield State Journal Register Patrick Collins has had to withdraw from investigating Metra due to a potential conflict of interest at the law firm where he is a partner. So much for whom I thought would be the best person to investigate the political and patronage shenanigans at Metra, eh? But hey, I still have an idea: perhaps we should establish The Average Joe and Josephine Citizens Tribunal to deal with our cadre of corrupt politicians and their appointed shadow government boards. And just to add a little spice to this tribunal we could do it with a twist since it now appears that the Metra Madigan Scandal Investigation Just Went Monty Python with today's announcement.
Anyone remember the Spanish Inquisition Skit? Enjoy!
And in rebuttal to my choice of Monty Python skit selection Jack On The Bus has suggested I add Part of the Spanish Inquisition and his choice "The Parrot Shop" as being more spot on. Either way enjoy them all. Thanks Jack!
According to the Chicago Tribune today, "Former federal prosecutor Patrick Collins has been asked to perform an independent investigation and make recommendations concerning patronage allegations and other issues raised by former Metra CEO Alex Clifford."
To say that this is welcome news would be an understatement as Patrick Collins is likely to be the best person for a Metra Madigan Scandal Investigation. After all, not only has Collins built an impeccible record in fighting Illinois' blatant pattern of political corruption, but he will probably do it before Metra dedicates a new rail station named Madiganistan.
Somehow, though, this latest brouhaha involving Metra shouldn't come as any surprise given their long history of patronage. If you recall, Metra's patronage came into a bad light after former Executive Director Philip Pagano decided it was easier to step in front of one of his trains rather than face a public investigation. I said at the time that I thought Metra, the Illinois Tollway Authority and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) were some of our worst examples of political patronage repositories.
Sadly, all three of these government agencies have a profound effect upon the taxpayers of Illinois. Unfortunately none of them have ever been shy about leaving them in the lurch and pay for the countless cost overruns or budget shortfalls associated with "the off-the-top-skimming" by greedy politicians and their well-connected insiders. And believe me, these actions are absolutely no different than what the Mob does whenever they are taking their shy.
Of course one can argue the fact of who is worse, the Mob or our Democratic Machine Politicians, but reality should tell us that they are one and the same. Besides our political history has proven that beyond a reasonable doubt over the many decades of "legal shakedowns." Still the entire State of Illinois remains corrupt as sin, although nowhere is it worse than right here in the Chicago Metropolitan Area.
The Chicago Machine Democrats have run the whole show here for so long that I finally understand exactly what former Mayor Richard J. Daley meant when (to paraphrase) "why would I run for Governor? I am already more powerful than he is!" And if former President John F. Kennedy were still alive today he would probably tell you that he already knew that back in 1960 as he won one of the closest elections in U.S. history.
Chicago holds a very powerful grip upon the lives of all Illinoisans.
Perhaps the best example of that truth is how Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan and his Madigoons have been able to dictate nearly every piece of legislation that passes through the Illinois Legislature for nearly 30 years. And that iron-fisted control makes Illinois more akin to a dictatorship than a Constitutional Democratic Republic. Of course from time to time we are fortunate and get some relief from the democratically stacked branches of government, but that is only when our politicians fear that their actions will spark a voter revolt. To get around that, though, the really obscene or controversial issues are simply locked-up in committee until the smoke clears until they have won reelection and/or if they know that a deciding vote in the 13th hour will not jeopardize their majority.
Is it Sneaky? Is it Slimy? Absolutely!
But you see, Michael Madigan and his crew seem to have no shame. I don't think that they give a rat's ass if what they are doing for themselves will hurt the taxpayers of Illinois or not. Their solution has always been rather clear and simple - just raise the fees and taxes to offset whatever shy they require. Never-mind about the fact that they are short-changing residents of the essential services and/or infrastructure funding. I hate to say it again folks - but Illinois bears no resemblance to being a Constitutional Democratic Republic or that they are even a part in the sum of the whole. Illinois just seems to play by its own rules!
But the price for that mentality has been enormously high. All one has to do to measure the gravity of the situation is to look at our state's shadow government and its slew of political appointments. They have not only siphoned-off nearly all the essential funds earmarked to run this state but continue to do so despite the dire condition of its treasury. So is it really any wonder that rating agencies have downgraded our credit rating? Not only is the State of Illinois broke but they are perilously close to bankruptcy.
As for former Metra CEO Alex Clifford? Well he was a relative political outsider (at least by the California standards he came from) before the likes of Michael Madigan and State Representative Luis Arroyo tried to indoctrinate and educate him on the "Chicago Way." But I would hold off viewing him as some sort of dutiful whistle-blower as it appears that he was more than willing to try and rebuff those prying hands before having to give in at his agency before Metra contract was in jeopardy. Then, and only then, did he decide to squeal like a rat.
At least that's the way I see it.
But I do give Alex Clifford some credit for showing us all how our government agencies are under siege by the powers that be. Look I have never been a prude about patronage. Matter of fact I even understand that patronage might not be all that bad so long as the workers given those choice jobs are actually putting in an honest day's work for an honest day's pay. Hell it worked well in places like Niles and Rosemont and even offered some nice benefits to the average taxpayer. But here's the deal - it just isn't the 1960's anymore and patronage has swollen to an unsustainable level. And it's not just the pay we must consider because these jobs all come with those nifty neato pensions attached to them. And that could literally wind up soaking generations of taxpayers.
So you see? There's that nasty Pension word again! But let's call an ace an ace shall we? Why do you suppose our "multiple pension schemes" are in such serious trouble? Not only are there too many people taking from the public trough but all too often they are allowed to take from more than one! Naturally that just added to the misery after the Illinois Legislature reneged on keeping the pensions adequately funded. Talk about making things bad for the taxpayers but adding insult to injury the Illinois Legislature would, from time to time, open-up windows of opportunity for those in the know to scam the pension. You know? Like those fools working one day as a substitute teacher without even having the credentials to do so!
So while these things may not be specific to the current Metra situation, it does show that these issues are all interconnected and part of the bigger picture and problem. And still Illinois politicians continue to show their constituents that they have zero regard for them or the burden they must shoulder for the things they do. But what are going to do? Illinois voters have all too often been ignorant of what their elected officials have done to them and reelect them.
Seriously, though, the State of Illinois needs a major house cleaning and I think having Patrick Collins look into the Metra Madigan Scandal is nothing short of a good thing for the taxpayers who care about where their money goes. Of course the only thing better than Collins would be if the Feds were to be even more proactive in handing out indictments but given President Barack Obama's ties to the city, well - let's just say we won't be seeing the Department of Justice or Eric Holder doing anything magnanimous around here when it comes to doing things the Chicago Way.
Of course we also have Illinois State's Attorney Lisa Madigan, but she won't remotely come close to doing her sworn duty either given that all roads seem to lead to her stepfather. And isn't that just ironic given the fact that Lisa Madigan is the most popular Democratic vote-getter in the State of Illinois even though she has never once looked into the improprieties or conflicts of interests that may cast a negative light on this questionable enterprise known as the Illinois Legislature. Well so much for her being the champion of the people as some of our in-the-bag journalists have annointed her.
The real champions, though, are people like Patrick Collins, City of Chicago Inspector General Joe Ferguson and/or the Average Joe's and Josephine's of this state who are sick and tired of the political shenanigans being played around here as well as a patronage system sucking us dry and are willing to have their voices heard.
As for Patrick Collins?
Well I hope he blows the lid off this Metra Madigan Scandal Investigation.
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Tags: Alex Clifford, Chicago, Chicago Democratic Machine, Chicago Political Commentary, Former Federal Prosecutor Patrick Collins, Former Metra CEO Alex Clifford, Former Metra Executive Director Philip Pagano, Illinois Legislature, Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, Illinois State's Attorney Lisa Madigan, Illinois Tollway Authority, Lisa Madigan, Luis Arroyo, Metra, Metra Madigan Scandal, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, Michael Madigan, Monty Python, Monty Python and the Spanish Inquisition, MWRD, Op Ed, Patrick Collins, Philip Pagano, Political Opinion, Spanish Inquisition Skit, state of Illinois, State Representative Luis Arroyo