Column: Time to show ‘Hot Rod’ the door

Following the conclusion of the Illinois Gubernatorial Primary last Tuesday, the state’s major political parties are gearing up for next fall’s governor’s race. Both parties have already made it clear that they are more than ready to take the gloves off and turn this election into a bloodbath – Gov. Blagojevich has begun to describe Republican State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka as hardhearted, and Topinka has made it clear that she intends to paint Democrat Blagojevich as bad for Illinois.

Needless to say, this is shaping up to be a normal political election in the state of Illinois.

The potential consequences of this election are not merely political, however. Over the next four years the governor will have to make serious choices about infrastructure, healthcare, the economy and education – and Illinoisans will need a leader capable of governing responsibly and setting our future on a firm foundation. In this time of mounting challenges such a task won’t be easy, but the best first step we can take is dumping Rod Blagojevich as our governor.

When Rod was elected in the fall of 2002, he promised the people of Illinois everything for nothing – state services would be expanded without raising income or property taxes. Facing only lackluster Republican opposition from former Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan, “Hot Rod” Blagojevich was able to slick his way to a general election victory. Even luckier for Rod, the campaign focused largely on the disgrace that was former Gov. George Ryan and less on how “Hot Rod” was going to be Illinois’ jack-of-all-trades governing savior.

Being sworn into office in the midst of mounting budget deficits and rising unemployment, Rod found himself in a difficult position. As we have seen, Rod sought to help plug this shortfall by gutting funding to one of the nation’s leading public universities, our very own University. Furthermore, State Senator Bill Brady has stated that Rod sought to raise revenue by imposing some 300 new fees and taxes on Illinois’ businesses, driving jobs out of the state in a time of economic weakness and preventing further job growth when the national economy recovered.

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Rod’s lack of interest for higher education isn’t surprising, given that he jokes about only getting an 18 on his ACT and about receiving D’s and C’s in algebra and constitutional law, respectively. Treating higher education as a joking matter and regarding it simply as a place to cut funds points to a lack of competence on the part of our governor – and frankly, so do his less-than-stellar academic abilities. One doesn’t have to be a genius to govern a state (just look at President Bush), but they should at least be smart enough to realize the value of higher education in fostering a skilled workforce and a productive society.

More recently, Rod’s TV commercials have touted how Illinois has created thousands of jobs during his time as governor. What Rod won’t tell you, however, is that Illinois’ job creation rate is nothing to brag about. According to, while the national unemployment rate is 4.8 percent, Illinois’ is 5.2 percent, ranking us a stellar 43rd out of all 50 states. Furthermore, while Illinois’ job creation has been less than the national average, neighboring states such as Wisconsin, Iowa, Indiana and Missouri all have unemployment rates under the national average. Rather than tout job creation he had nothing to do with, Rod should instead be explaining to the unemployed of this state why job creation here has lagged behind our neighbors.

Illinois, the time has come for us to realize our potential and move into the 21st century. With Rod as our governor, however, it is clear that that won’t be happening. Indeed, if Rod were CEO of a large corporation, clearly he wouldn’t be around any longer – and its time we gave him a pink slip of our own.

Jeff Myczek is a junior in LAS, and his column appears on Thursdays. He can be reached at [email protected].