Statehouse Insider: Blagojevich might have to get over distaste for uniforms

Doug Finke

In his federal corruption trial last week, former Gov. ROD BLAGOJEVICH is heard pooh-poohing the idea of heading up The Salvation Army after leaving office.

“Have to wear a uniform. Forget that,” Blagojevich says.

He might have to get used to wearing a uniform.

Beyond that, it’s scary beyond belief to think of someone of Blagojevich’s character — What’s in it for me? — in charge of a charitable organization.

* As the Blagojevich trial continues to drone on, a byproduct of the whole saga is moving ahead.

The secretary of state’s office is getting ready to formally tell voters about the recall amendment that will appear on the Nov. 2 ballot. Not that you’ll have a chance to forget about it between now and then. Gov. PAT QUINN will constantly remind people he pushed the amendment that he says proves that he and Blagojevich really weren’t close, despite being governor and lieutenant governor.

The state constitution requires that voters get a written explanation of proposed amendments. It’s up to Secretary of State JESSE WHITE to do that. Up to 5.5 million of those explanations will be printed. About 4 million will be mailed, and the rest will be given to lawmakers, libraries and community organizations to distribute.

It’s going to cost $130,000 to have National Data Services of St. Charles print the materials. Poly-Pak and Ship of Vandalia will do the mailing, even though they weren’t the lowest bidder. The company was $200 higher than the lowest bidder, a New York firm. White spokesman DAVE DRUKER said the cost of shipping the stuff to New York only to be mailed back to Illinois was more than $200.

The materials will be mailed in early October.

* The booklets explaining the amendment will be printed in three languages. You can probably easily guess two of them, English and Spanish. Give yourself a gold star if you know the third.

It’s Chinese. Druker said census data shows there are enough Chinese speakers in and around Chicago to justify a separate mailing in that language. It’s limited to 50,000, though.

* The latest literary offering from state Sen. RICKEY HENDON, D-Chicago, can now be pre-ordered on a variety of book-selling websites.

Called “Backstabbers,” the book is Hendon’s take on how to practice politics in Illinois and how those politics are practiced in this state.

“I got a lot of cuts all over the place,” Hendon told the Chicago Tribune in 2007. In the same interview, Hendon said he might write a follow-up called “No Permanent Friends or Enemies.”

A synopsis of “Backstabbers” on the Barnes & Noble website says, “This book could be compared to Sun Tzu’s ‘The Art of War’ in the methodical approach Hendon takes to the nuts and bolts of all aspects of political campaigns. It is the ultimate political handbook for winning elections, written by someone who has practiced everything he preaches.”

When the book is released, it will be interesting to see if Hendon really toned down its contents (as he claimed he would do) or if he simply lets loose, as he’s known to do in the Senate.

You may recall Hendon’s other book, “Black Enough/White Enough: The Obama Dilemma.” That was Hendon’s take on BARACK OBAMA’s rise from state senator to the presidency, complete with the sometimes-intense disagreements between the two men.

It currently sits at No. 476,640 on the Amazon bestseller list.

* As long as we’re on the subject of books, we wondered if the trial and surrounding publicity has done anything for “The Governor,” Blagojevich’s book on his time serving (but not necessarily working) as governor. It’s the book he humbly subtitled “Finally the Truth Behind the Political Scandal That Continues to Rock the Nation.” In some circles, like those centered in reality, the book is also known as “Blago in Wonderland.”

Alas, the trial doesn’t seem to be doing much for book sales. Amazon had the book at 359,751 on its bestseller list Friday morning.

Another book about Blagojevich is still available — “Pay to Play: How Rod Blagojevich Turned Political Corruption Into a National Sideshow” by Chicago PBS reporter ELIZABETH BRACKETT. It sat at 245,620 Friday morning.

Maybe people do know their books.

Doug Finke can be reached at 217-788-1527 or