The 2002 Democratic primary for governor featured the most ill-starred cast in the history of Illinois politics.
The winner, Rod Blagojevich, is now in a federal prison in Colorado, serving a 14-year sentence for corruption. One of the runners-up, Roland Burris, was Blagojevich’s choice to fill Barack Obama’s unexpired Senate term. Burris’ two years in the Senate didn’t help his career. He was admonished by the Senate Ethics Committee for “misleading” testimony on whether he’d offered to raise money for Blagojevich in exchange for the appointment. His tombstone became a national joke. Time magazine named him one of its “100 Least Influential People.” Unable to land a teaching position, Burris now runs a storefront “School of Politics” on the South Side.
Then there was the third candidate in that primary, Paul Vallas. The former CEO of Chicago Public Schools was the runner-up to Blagojevich. After the election, he left Illinois to become superintendent of the Philadelphia schools, then of the Recovery School District of Louisiana. Vallas talked about returning to Illinois to run for governor or Cook County Board president, but the courts ruled he had forfeited his residency.
Now comes word from Bridgeport, Conn., that a judge has booted Vallas from the school superintendent’s job he has held since 2011 because he lacks the state leadership credential required for the position. (Did you know Vallas was in Bridgeport? I didn’t. I’d forgotten all about him.)
During his short time at the helm of Bridgeport's failing education system, Superintendent Paul Vallas was both hailed as savior and demonized as an arrogant, inflexible dictator.
Now school's out for summer -- and for Vallas.
In a decision expected to rock the city's education system, a Superior Court judge Friday ordered Vallas removed from his job.
In her 27-page decision, the judge agreed with critics of Vallas that he had taken a "sham" course to become qualified to serve as superintendent.
"The evidence was overwhelming that from the start, efforts were made to accommodate the appointment of Vallas as superintendent of the Bridgeport public school system at every level," the judge ruled. "The court orders that Paul Vallas be removed from his office."
It seems like a long fall for a man who almost became governor -- although not as long a fall as the man who actually did become governor.