“YOU CAN’T KILL A MAN BORN TO HANG”* Should an official portrait of former Governor Rod Blagojevich hang in the Hall of Governors, the public hallway on the south wing of the Capitol’s second floor? The jury is still out re the verdict, and while I doubt it will happen, I think it should. Because January 30th marks the one year anniversary of Blago’s removal from office, the topic seems timely.
Blagojevich might never get a portrait in the Capitol if lawmakers approve a bill sponsored by Rep. Bill Black, R-Danville. Black’s bill would prohibit display among the Capitol’s official portraits “any image of a governor who has been removed from office by impeachment and conviction.” Even if Black’s bill fails, the other problem would be to get the legislature to approve funds to pay for the portrait. The state’s budget does not currently have any funds earmarked for a portrait. (previous gubernatorial portraits cost between $15,000-$18,000.) One wonders what legislator would have the cojones to sponsor such a bill.
Maybe State Rep. Jack Franks (D-Marengo), who while he was one of Blago’s most outspoken critics, reminds us “Blago-style” that the man was twice elected by the people of Illinois to serve as governor. Franks also feels the portrait would be a reminder to the citizens of Illinois to be careful who they elect in the future.
“I would be happy to sponsor a bill looking to provide funds for an official portrait." Franks said. “A digital camera from Walgreen’s costs about $6.99 and add another $10 for Kinko’s to blow the photo up to poster size and I think we are covered. The big expense would be the gold frame because, of course, his portrait would be “F***ing golden,” Franks said with a chuckle. “But upon reflection, we won’t need any legislative action because I will be happy to pay for the picture out of my own pocket. Nothing would make me happier than to see Rod hanging.”
According to the State Journal Register, Rep. Ken Dunkin, D-Chicago, who was one of Blagojevich’s few supporters in the Illinois House, said he would “love to comment” about Blagojevich’s portrait -- on Feb. 3, the day after the primary election. Dunkin has two primary opponents.
The last ceremony to hang a Governor’s portrait was in 2003 when the official picture of George Ryan was put on display. At that time Ryan was under investigation, but had not been indicted or convicted of anything yet. Ryan said to then Governor Blagojevich that someday there would be an unveiling ceremony for a portrait of Blagojevich. “I hope somebody shows up,” Blagojevich quipped.
Hanging Blagojevich? The whole state will show up to witness the event. *THE OFFICIAL MOTTO OF Dick’s Last Resort Restaurant