Column: Family Feud

Tim Eggerding

Tim Eggerding

By Angela Loiacono

Normally, when I get in a quarrel with a member of my family, it stays within the confines of our quaint, suburban home. Gov. Rod Blagojevich, on the other hand, feels the need to make his family conflicts a matter of the state. Never having been a big fan of the governor, I have to jump on the bandwagon against his recent family issues that have found their way into the news. Contrary to his beliefs, his position as governor doesn’t give him permission to use his power against his family. Funny how the man who is supposed to be professionally running our state is struggling to keep his vengeful actions against his family out of the media’s attention.

Honestly, I’m happy to see that good ole Rod is keeping Illinois tollways in check and keeping the state tax under control. But when, exactly, did disgruntled in-law issues become a matter of public forum? As reported by Rob Olmstead of the Daily Herald, Blagojevich took action against his wife’s cousin, Frank Schmidt. After hearing that Schmidt was warding off regulators by flaunting his connection to Blagojevich, the governor shut down a Joliet garbage dump run by Schmidt.

Blagojevich painted a bull’s eye on himself with that one. After working hard to portray himself as the political poster boy, the governor got caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Blagojevich found himself in family turmoil after Richard Mell, Chicago alderman and father-in-law of Blagojevich, accused him of other inappropriate actions following the closure of the dump. Mell placed allegations against the governor’s fundraiser, Christopher G. Kelly. The alderman accused Kelly of selling appointments to commissions in exchange for Blagojevich’s campaign fund.

Despite the idea that the private lives of politicians have become the public’s general knowledge, Blagojevich shouldn’t have abused his power to punish Schmidt. If there are family issues, they shouldn’t affect his governing of the state. Family conflict shouldn’t find its way into the public eye. While the governor’s legislative decisions and platforms should be the topic, the media is focusing on family bickering. Blagojevich’s blatant childish actions have overshadowed his prestige as a politician.

For a man who is trying to take down the entertainment industry and their violent video games, he’s playing dirty with his own family. Although it was never really discussed, Blagojevich owes a lot more to his father-in-law than most. Without the help of Mell, his appointment as state representative and election to congress might have been questionable. Mell seemed as though he was a political mentor to Blagojevich, and his repayment is anything but positive. Mell even told Daily Herald reporters that he feels his daughter has blinders on and will wake up one morning to realize who her husband really is. It’s interesting how Mell felt strongly enough to inform the public of his negative opinion of Blagojevich.

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    My favorite part of this whole mess was Blagojevich’s attempted recovery later in the week. In an effort to make himself look better, he shut down a second garbage dump. Maybe he thought he could cover his tracks if he closed another site. As soon as the feud went public, the governor became concerned with hurting his public image and was forced to take further action. The public can’t respect a man who attacks his family.

    In a way, this family conflict sheds more light on the character of our governor. Shutting down the dump was just vengeance being paid to Schmidt for his apparent abuse of his connection to the governor. In an immature act of revenge, the man who leads our state chose to get back at his very own relative by closing his business. Blagojevich’s idea of setting things right not only included acting on what seems to be a rumor, but also going after a member of his wife’s family.

    Angela Loiacono is a sophomore in LAS. Her column appears Fridays. She can be reached at [email protected].