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Monday, August 17, 2009

Andy Martin bucks Illinois governor on ‘clout crisis’

Martin opposes calls for the resignation of the University of Illinois President, Chancellor and Board of Trustees. Andy says that as a candidate for United States Senator, he would normally avoid a controversy involving state officials. But as a graduate of the U of I, with extensive academic experience, he is prepared to assist faculty, staff, students and alumni in the healing process arising from the university’s admissions scandal.

U. S. Senate candidate Andy Martin opposes firing University of Illinois Trustees and management

Martin says Governor Quinn’s demands could inflict permanent damage on the University

Republican for U. S. Senator
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the People of Illinois”
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(CHICAGO)(August 17, 2009) Republican U. S. Senate candidate and insurgent “Internet Powerhouse” Andy Martin will hold a Chicago news conference Monday, August 17th to announce that he has asked Governor Pat Quinn to stop calling for the resignations of University of Illinois Trustees. Martin also opposes removal of the U of I president and chancellor. Finally, Martin will offer to mediate a quiet resolution of the controversy.

“This is a plan of action based on a three-part analysis of the problem,” Martin states. “First, the basis for my intervention; second a review of the Chicago Tribune claims and the Mikva panel; finally, a decision based on what is best for the University, not the political class in this state.

“My initial reaction was the same as most people, namely that individuals who were involved should be fired as part of a ritual ‘cleansing’ of the University. But after study and reflection, I am convinced that current demands for removal of the Trustees and leaders will inflict more damage on the University that they will alleviate. The conventional wisdom about how to proceed is wrong. We need to adopt an unconventional approach to healing the wounds of past misconduct.

“First, I have a unique background to intercede in the University of Illinois ‘clout’ scandal. My mother and I hold a total of three degrees from the U of I. She is a retired college professor and AAUP representative; I grew up on a college campus. I have been an adjunct professor of law in another public university system, the City University of New York. And I have personal knowledge of the U. I. admissions process because a close personal friend served in that office.

“Because I am a candidate for federal office, normally I would not get involved in a ‘state’ matter, unlike my opponent Mark Kirk, who has also announced for the senate, but is running on a platform that mirrors issues in the gubernatorial race. Nevertheless, I am convinced that I can be of help to the Governor, to the University and to the healing process among alumni and students.

“I can never repay the people of Illinois for their generosity to my family in providing us with superior educations. My only ‘conflict of interest’ in this controversy is that I once asked former Law Dean Hurd tongue-in-cheek whether the law school planned to award me special recognition as the law school’s most notorious graduate in history. I am not expecting that recognition any time soon.

“Second, I congratulate the Chicago Tribune for an extraordinary act of journalism. The Tribune’s series on ‘Clout U’ should win a Pulitzer. The Tribune did an outstanding job. But I respectfully disagree with the Tribune editorial board’s call for the removal of the university’s hierarchy.

“Likewise, I met Abner Mika during the 1965 ‘bedsheet ballot’ session of the General Assembly. I helped in his campaigns and he has been an inspiration on integrity to me. The last time I saw Ab I recruited him to be a witness before a U. S. Senate committee in 1972. I can’t say enough good words about Judge Mikva even though today I don’t agree with him on public policy issues. I respectfully disagree with Judge Mikva on his call for the removal of the Trustees and UI leadership.

“Finally, I start from the obvious, but somewhat ignored, point of view that we must ‘first, do no harm’ to the University of Illinois’ future. Why do I oppose removing the President and Chancellor, and trustees?

“First let me address the question of firing President White and Chancellor Herman. White and Herman have sinned. And we are entitled to and should extract a reasonable and measured punishment for their surrender to the culture of corruption in this state. But I am not aware of any evidence that White and Herman profited personally, or put anything in their pockets as a result of their unfortunate deeds.

“Their sole interest was the protection and advancement of the University’s interests. Were this a case of ‘kickbacks’ or cash or other benefits for White and Herman personally, I would weigh the issues and resolve the matter differently.

“Their fall from grace is almost biblical. They were the servants who sought to serve their master, and served too well. But these men were not blinded by personal greed; they were blinded by loyalty to their institution and the growth and advancement of our University. This is not a ‘Watergate’ situation. This is not an ‘Illinigate’ scandal.

“Second, I am convinced that ‘firing’ the leadership of the U of I will make it more difficult to obtain high-quality replacements. The best potential replacements will only be lured to the U of I if we deal with this ‘clout crisis’ in a mature and intelligent way. If we fire the Trustees and fire the President and Chancellor, the search to find replacements will be made immeasurably more difficult.

“White and Herman can and should play a limited role in the selection of their replacements if the university’s tradition of excellence is to be continued. I would expect them to make further apologies and sacrifices, however, as part of the healing process.

“Third, no one is calling for punishment of the ‘johns’ in this case, the actual politicians who sought special favors. The political class was caught red-handed by the Tribune, and now our ‘leaders’ would love to see university officials offered up as blood sacrifice for the culture of corruption in this state.

“President White and Chancellor Herman did not create the culture of corruption in this state; they tried to accommodate their institution to the prevailing morality of Illinois, which is rotten to the core.

“Punishment which is imposed on only one party to an illicit transaction is always suspect. I would have felt more comfortable with the inflammatorily rhetoric directed at the University staff if it was accompanied by an equally sonorous call for resignations of the politicians who are still in office that sought special treatment.

“Corruption has proven resilient in this state. The bad guys that Ab Mikva and I were fighting in the mid-60’s are all gone. Today the children and grandchildren of the crooks we battled are now—what else—crooks themselves. I do not see that President White initiated the ‘clout’ program, or that Chancellor Herman likewise began the processes that ultimately compromised his outstanding contributions to the University. These men inherited a ‘policy’ that was in place before they arrived; they unfortunately failed to achieve a termination of the unconscionable advantages offered to the favored few.

“Fourth, I am convinced that if the Tribune and Governor succeed in ‘shooting’ the leadership of the University, the taint will be greater in the long run than if we honestly acknowledge that horrible deeds were accomplished, make amends, and get on with life. In that sense, Mikva’s committee functioned as a ‘Truth Commission;’ the Commission did an admirable job of exposing a disgraceful process.

“For Governor Quinn to fire the Trustees or senior staff would be akin to making a Casablanca-style discovery that there is ‘gambling’ going on in the Illinois state government cabaret. More mendacity will only prolong the injury inflicted on the University. Acts of revenge against individuals would be grossly political and totally insincere.

“If the Governor asks me to assist in a resolution, I am prepared to mediate with each of the individuals who have been consumed by the controversy, to see what further atonement they are prepared to offer. I think we should ask each of them to search their consciences, and to work towards an acceptable expiation of their role in the scandal.

“I would like to see President White and Chancellor Herman leave the University under their own steam, and not because mendacious politicians pushed them out to save their own skins.

“There may be additional remedies that we can extend to the victims of the scandal. I don’t know.

“In over forty years of fighting corruption in this state, I have never believed that hypocrisy is an acceptable substitute for integrity. But hypocrisy is what is being offered up now as a resolution of the e`mbarrassment. I dissent.

“The ‘ultimate disinfectant’ of sunlight has exposed gross abuses. I salute Mikva and the Tribune. Ab is still the same outstanding public servant he was when we met in 1965; I have had my difference with the Trib but I would endorse the Trib's application for a Pulitzer. They did an award-winning job in researching and publishing the embarrassing truths about our great university.

“But my independent judgment and academic experience tell me that those who are crying 'off with their heads' may not realize that when those heads are chopped off, putting new 'heads' in place may become much more difficult. I condemn the barbaric political deeds that were effectively imposed on the management of the U of I. but I propose a Lincolnesque resolution, 'with charity for all, with malice toward none,' except perhaps the 'pols' that have ruined this great state of ours.

“Our national culture is quite at variance with Illinois’ slimy traditions. Nationally, we look for reconciliation and forgiveness as essential antidotes for unfortunate acts. If the NFL can pardon the unpardonable Michael Vick, I think wise public policy would be for the General Assembly to pass remedial legislation protecting the independence of the U of I, for the individuals concerned to come forward with their own ongoing atonements, and for the people of this state to get off their fat asses and vote for a wholesale change in the political leadership on February 2nd.

“Unless we get rid of crooked politicians, ‘clout’ scandals will continue to be a regular fact of life in Illinois.

“I am willing to help the Governor, so long as he reconsiders his current approach and adopts measured and fit retribution for the sins which were committed. Professional ‘execution’ is not the right resolution for the individuals, and it is certainly not the right approach to safeguard the future and stability of the University of Illinois,” Martin will state. “If present trends continue, and calls for wholesale resignations succeed, the University will have been raped all over again by an inappropriate resolution to the ‘clout crisis.’”

August 17th news conference details:


U. S. Senate candidate and Internet Powerhouse Andy Martin


Sidewalk news conference, SE corner of Huron and Wabash,


Monday, August 17, 2009 2:00 P.M.


Internet Powerhouse and U. S. Senate candidate Andy Martin opposes the dismissal of the University of Illinois President and Chancellor, says Trustees should not be forced out


(866) 706-2639; Cell (917) 664-9329 (not always turned on)


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Andy Martin is a legendary Chicago muckraker, author, Internet columnist, radio talk show host, broadcaster and media critic. He has over forty years of broadcasting background in radio and television and is the dean of Illinois media and communications. He is currently promoting his best-selling book, Obama: The Man Behind The Mask and producing the new Internet movie "Obama: The Hawai'i years." Andy is the Executive Editor and publisher of Martin comments on regional, national and world events with more than four decades of experience. He holds a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Illinois College of Law and is a former adjunct professor of law at the City University of New York.
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