Lightfoot unloads on Rod Blagojevich — for the last time
Unlike other former prisoners, including her own brother, Lightfoot said, “We have not seen is one ounce of contrition from this man who held the highest office in our state.”
Mayor Lori Lightfoot is a former federal prosecutor who owes her landslide victory to the corruption indictment against Ald. Edward Burke (14th).
She has already declared her opposition to President Donald Trump’s decision to commute Rod Blagojevich’s sentence and free the former governor from federal prison four years early.
On Wednesday, Lightfoot made, what she promised, will be her final comments on Blagojevich’s release and the former governor’s bravado claims of being a “freed political prisoner.” It’s a subject that, clearly, annoys her to no end.
“Every week, every month, there are men and women who return from incarceration ... into the city. … None of those people are gonna get the kind of attention that you’re apparently gonna pay to Rod Blagojevich — and that’s a shame because many of them have great needs … that we’re trying to address as a city,” Lightfoot said after Wednesday’s City Council meeting.
“The difference between most of them and Rod Blagojevich is that they accept responsibility for the crimes they have committed. They are willing to do what’s necessary to make amends for the harm that they caused.”
Former Mayors Rahm Emanuel and Richard M. Daley championed “Second Chance” programs in hopes that reducing sky-high unemployment in inner-city neighborhoods could reduce the number of repeat offenders and, thereby, reduce the bloodbath on the streets.
But for Lightfoot, the crusade is personal.
Her older brother — the one she was closest to and idolized most — spent much of his adult life in prison after robbing a bank in Nebraska and shooting a security guard.
Her working-class parents even considered mortgaging their Ohio home to raise bail money before her brother warned that, even if they did, he would jump bail.
The last stint he spent behind bars was 17 years in federal prison. During the campaign, Lightfoot described her brother as a “man in his early 60’s with a high school degree, very little in the way of legitimate job skills” who “struggles every single day.”
She talked openly about how “painful and challenging” it has been for her brother to return, “with his record and history” to the family home to Masillon, Ohio, where he still lives with their 90-year-old mother.
That’s apparently why the characteristic crowing from Blagojevich and his claims of being a “freed political prisoner” are so infuriating to the mayor.
“Some people say, ‘Don’t you have sympathy for his family?’ I have sympathy for every family, mine included, where you have a loved one who’s incarcerated. It does terrible things to members of the family that are outside,” Lightfoot said.
“But what I would expect and we have not seen is one ounce of contrition from this man who held the highest office in our state and used it in a way that is shameful and, as a consequence of his prosecution and conviction by a jury of his peers ... still has no capacity for acceptance of responsibility.”