First posted 12/9/2008 11:49 a.m.

While the state and much of the country are focused on Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s arrest this morning on federal corruption charges relating to the alleged sale of Barack Obama’s old senate seat, Oak Parkers are focusing more on the man who might soon be sitting in the governor’s chair.


Blagojevich was arrested early Tuesday morning by federal agents on a 76-page criminal complaint charging corruption. Federal prosecutors say Blagojevich was recorded on a wire tap saying he was approached by an associate of “Candidate 5” with an offer of $500,000 in exchange for the Senate seat.


It’s not known who Candidate 5 is, but it’s all but certain that it’s not Blagojevich’s lieutenant governor, Patrick Quinn. A former Oak Parker now living in nearby Galewood, Quinn is in line to become acting governor should Blagojevich be unable to function as governor. Unlike Blagojevich, he’s known as a political goo-goo, a squeaky clean good-government type.


Quinn’s Coalition for Political Honesty, launched in 1974, was for many years housed in offices above the old
Argos restaurant on

Oak Park Avenue
and
Madison Street
.


Retired
Chicago journalist Paul Zimbrakos said he respects Quinn as a down-to-earth guy, who always acts in the public’s best interest.

“Pat was always a straight shooter,” Zimbrakos said. “When you called him, he’d answer his own phone.”


Quinn’s brother, John, who is a history teacher at Fenwick and head boys’ basketball coach, spent early Tuesday morning fielding calls from friends and neighbors.


John Quinn noted that his brother had traveled alone last week to
New Mexico for the National Lieutenant Governors Association conference. Such solitary travel has been a long practice, but not for much longer.


“I don’t think he’ll be by himself much anymore,” John Quinn said.


While the
Illinois statutes are clear about the order of succession, it’s unclear exactly what triggers a governor’s absence from office. The state constitution holds that an acting governor be appointed in the event of the governor’s “temporary disability or failure to qualify.”


Former Senate president Phil Rock, an
Oak Park resident, said the indictment puts the possibility of Blagojevich’s impeachment back on the table.


“If I were involved, it seems the House is well within its rights to start the call for impeachment. And I wouldn’t be surprised if the Senate followed their lead,” Rock said Tuesday morning.


The process would not be quick, he said. As with the federal indictment, there is a presumption of innocence until he’s proved guilty.


Rock said he believes Blagojevich is under no requirement to step aside in the meantime, despite the indictment. While Rock doesn’t believe Blagojevich can be effective as governor, he doesn’t expect him to resign.


“No. He’s perfectly within his rights to ride this out,” Rock said.

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