… always appreciates fine writing. Here’s some. Let’s see how John Kass of the Chicago Tribune does his thing.
If there were any doubts that Illinois is the diseased poster child of political corruption, those doubts are long gone. [Such a fresh, strong opening sentence, in the context of such an absurdly over the top story of statewide corruption, that SOS laughed out loud. Great start.]
Friday’s story in the Tribune exposes a widening pattern of corruption at the University of Illinois. This time, with the trading of law school admission for patronage-style jobs. [Sentence fragment! Yes, the second sentence isn’t a sentence. But that’s okay, right? The guy’s pissed, and his clipped approach fits his anger.]
So any doubts about where this state stands should be erased. What remains is the smell. [Maybe he’s heading into a bit too much figurative language — poster child, disease, smell. We might ask him to polish this by finding one metaphor — stench would certainly do it — and sticking with it.]
The state stinks, from Rich Daley’s City Hall to Springfield, and now all that’s left, for taxpayers, is the smell and the stain. [Smell, stain, stink — I guess we’re basically into liquid doodoo here. And that’s fine. If the shit fits, wear it.] Corruption and patronage, once thought to be [Drop to be.] the exclusive province of greasy politicians, now reach into the law school of the state’s premier public university. [Not sure about greasy, though greasy-palmed is I guess the referent. If you wanted to stay with flowing manure, you might say malodorous or something.]
Friday’s story details how University Chancellor Richard Herman forced the university’s law school to accept an unqualified student. That student had the backing of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. The student’s relative dropped wads of campaign money on ex-Gov. Dead Meat. [Laughed again on dead meat. Though again, if you wanted to keep the primary metaphor you might say ex-Gov. Fertilizer.]
In exchange for corrupting his law school’s admissions policy, Herman wanted to get jobs for five of his law school graduates. University officials considered the law grads so far at bottom of their class that they needed political clout to get a decent salary at a good law firm. If that wasn’t possible, the U. of I. was willing to place them in government jobs.
“Yeah, I’m betting the Governorship will be open,” Heidi M. Hurd, then dean of the university’s College of Law, wrote in an e-mail to Herman on April 29, 2006, perhaps joking that Blagojevich’s time in public life was coming to an end.
What followed in her e-mail was worse.
“Other jobs in Government are fine, since kids who don’t pass the bar and can’t think are close enough for government work,” Hurd wrote. In another e-mail to other U. of I. officials, Hurd wrote:
“FYI: The deal is supposed to be that WE get to pick the students — and they are supposed to be bottom-of-the-class students who face a hell of a time passing the Bar and otherwise getting jobs!”
That’s law school the Chicago Way. If they can’t pass the bar on the first or second try, they’re qualified to become mayor.
The latest e-mails from Herman, Hurd and other U. of I. officials were released Thursday. The Tribune had asked for all such e-mails in April. But these somehow were forgotten, until U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald issued subpoenas. Then, magically, that which was lost was found. A miracle!
Did the U. of I. search by the light of Batman’s beacon, Diogenes’ lantern or some other powerful lamp of truth? [Once again, funny. Remember: Writing is all about control. If you’re angry, don’t spew. Find some other way to convey your rage. Humor is a fantastic way.]
Thomas Hardy, spokesman for the University and a former Tribune colleague whom I know and respect, dismisses my skepticism and deserves his say.
“We’ve made a good-faith effort to respond to the Tribune’s Freedom of Information requests, and others,” Hardy said. “Some documents were not produced that apparently should have been. We don’t know right now the reason for that, but the fact of the matter is that in collecting documents and doing interviews for the Quinn commission, we’ve come across these new e-mails and made them publicly available.”
Within days, perhaps sooner, you’ll hear a few thudding sounds, like lonely bowling balls tossed down a dark alley, and you’ll realize you’re listening to the political heads of Chancellor Herman and his crew rolling into history. [Well, we’ve switched figures bigtime, and I’m not sure how fresh and lovely the bowling ball thing is. I mean, not that shit’s fresh and lovely qua metaphor, but somehow people always like it. And yes — He could rewrite with an eye to maintaining his dominant metaphor by saying That sucking sound you hear is the head of Chancellor Herman being flushed down the toilet of history.]
But don’t make the mistake of thinking that lopping a few heads and burning the stumps will clean things up.
Not in the state where our boss Democrats in the state legislature — guys like state Senate President John Cullerton (D-DeLeo) — are still slapping themselves on the back for stopping the Illinois Reform Commission led by former assistant U.S. Atty. Patrick Collins.
Not in the state where Mayor Daley can pretend not to know that his nephew received $68 million in city pension money to invest, and then, without telling his taxpayers, puts them on the hook for likely cost overruns in his 2016 Olympic dream.
Not in the state where — just before the patronage abuse trial of Daley’s top aides a few years ago — mayoral mouthpiece David Axelrod, now the media wizard for President Barack Obama, defended political patronage by arguing it is the grease that helps government run smoothly. [Yeah, ye olde start every paragraph with the same words — Not in the state… Fine. Works well here.]
Think about your taxes. And all the fine students denied admission to the U. of I., though they have the grades.
Think of the clout that’s been reported by this newspaper. Consider the thousands of excellent, hardworking students at the U. of I. who’ve been dishonored by the corruption of adults who are [Drop who are.] supposed to protect them.
If you’ve read carefully here and elsewhere, you know about corrupt politicians, corrupt cops, corrupt businesses. But the last line of defense for the corrupt are kinky judges.
How do you get such judges? You begin in law school, with university officials establishing corrupt practices, leveraging unqualified lawyers into jobs.
Lawyers become judges, don’t they? [Terrific conclusion, in which he clarifies the food chain by which judges become just as corrupt as everyone else in Illinois government.]