Column: Another reason to dislike Blago

By Jeff Lipsey

I do not need another reason to dislike Gov. Rod Blagojevich, yet he continues to disappoint me. I remember when I first saw Blago on the television campaigning three years ago for governor. I liked him after listening to his upbeat advertising campaign, but now I’m not so happy.

One issue that really bothers me involves the Off Track Betting (OTB) gambling centers. The only reason OTB was able to open doors in Illinois because all money coming from OTB would go directly to the state parks and tourism system. Recently and unbeknownst to most of the public, Blagojevich decided to remove over $1 million from the state parks to help balance the budget, with this money coming directly from OTB.

Also, Blagojevich plans to sign into law within the next month the “Safe Games Illinois” bill, prohibiting retailers from selling M-rated video games to persons under the age of 17. If a retailer actually sells a game to someone under the age of 17, then he or she must pay a hefty $1,000 fine. That’s the same price they would have to pay for selling alcohol to minors and twenty times as large as a fine for selling cigarettes to minors. That means it’s cheaper for retailers to sell children cigarettes than to let them buy violent video games; that sends a nice message.

Wal-Mart carded me three years ago and it wasn’t because I wanted to purchase Grand Theft Auto 3 or the controversial 25 to Life. Wal-Mart checked my driver’s license when I went to buy Starcraft; and it has desensitized me to the life of death and destruction (sarcasm to those of you out there who don’t know what Starcraft is).

Charging a retailer with such a large fine for selling violent video games to minors seems rather over-the-top, especially for such a harmless game as Starcraft. I believe that the Illinois senators should at least play these violent video games; at least then, they might realize how much fun and how harmless they actually are. I would also like to know how Blagojevich plans on enforcing the “Safe Games Illinois” bill. Common sense tells me that he plans on using ‘secret shoppers’ to go to different retailers and testing them. I feel that Blagojevich could use these secret shoppers much better by busting alcohol and drug stores to counter underage drinking and smoking.

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Moving on from my life as a video gamer, I really dislike Blagojevich because he doubled the tolls. I do not drive in or near Chicago all that often nor do I use the toll roads. I have no reason to get an IPASS so when I do travel I have to take the back roads or pay. I can argue on both sides of this issue, but since I don’t have an IPASS, its annoying to have to pay twice as much for the same service.

Not that I need another reason to dislike Blagojevich, but when I read that he is planning on signing a law prohibiting the use of cell phones by 16 and 17 year-old drivers, I became a little unnerved. The city of Chicago recently passed a law prohibiting cell phones by all drivers; however, hands-free headsets would remain legal. That isn’t the case for those teenagers. Proponents argue that these rookie drivers aren’t able to handle the distraction of talking on their cell phones; however, they make no mention about eating, drinking or changing CDs.

I would rather have Blagojevich sign a law prohibiting everyone from using cell phones while driving, instead of just teenagers. Considering these teens can’t even vote on the issue, their voice goes unheard. Also, adults have just as many distractions while driving (if not more than kids do) while having slower reflexes. Throw a couple crying children in the back seat combined with the coffee spilling everywhere and adults seem a lot more distracted. Granted, teenage drivers may not be the most experienced drivers on the road, but experience and distraction do not correlate in my mind.

Everyone has a reason to dislike Blagojevich: conservationists, drivers, teenagers and video gamers all have something in common. If you dig deep enough, you too can dislike Governor Rod Blagojevich.