Dear Editor:

Letter writer Eugene Witkowski needs to get his facts straight before he writes letters to the editor.

In a recent letter, he stated that, “Two previous Democratic governors (of Illinois), Ryan and Blagojevich, are in prison.” In fact, Governor Ryan (who was actually recently released from prison) was a Republican governor, not a Democrat. In fact, six Illinois governors three Democrats and three Republicans — have been charged with crimes while in office. Four went to prison. Two Republicans managed to avoid prison, but one of them subsequently gave state jobs to eight of the jurors who acquitted him. So, in Illinois, corruption has nothing to do with political party — at the level of state politics, both parties are equally corrupt.

Mr. Witkowski goes on to state, in regard to the Illinois pension mess, “Who is accountable for this debacle? There are no Republicans to blame …” I lived and worked in Illinois for 34 years, and for 22 of those 34 years, the governor of Illinois was a Republican. Governors Thompson and Edgar, who preceded Ryan in office, were Republicans. Three of the five governors during the time I lived in Illinois were Republicans. During many of those years, Republicans also controlled one or both houses of the state legislature. As someone who lived and worked there throughout nearly all of my career before retiring to Pagosa Springs, I can tell you that both parties share equally in the responsiblity for the current fiscal mess and pension crisis in Illinois. Both parties chose to keep taxes low and services high by raiding, borrowing from, and underfunding the state’s pension systems. Both parties disregarded state laws requiring that the legislature make annual contributions to keep the penson systems solvent — payments that legislators of both parties voted to skip, and governors of both parties supported skipping. This occurred over a period of several decades, leading to the current fiscal and pension crisis. And both political parties were in it up to their necks.

In short, Illinois tells you absolutely nothing about which party to trust. In Illinois, both parties acted in corrupt and fiscally irresponsible ways whenever they were in control of the governor’s mansion or the state legislature. So, please don’t use Illinois as a basis for arguing to get rid of Democratic officeholders in Colorado. The analogy simply doesn’t hold when it was every bit as much, if not more, Republicans as Democrats who got Illinois into the mess it is in today.

John E. Farley

This story was posted on July 25, 2013.