Blago's Unemployment Check

Is Blago seeking "gainful employment?"

In his reaction to being removed from office, ex-governor Rod Blagojevich said Thursday, "There are tens of thousands of people all across America, just like me, who are losing their jobs or lost their jobs."

Now, someone should tell the former governor that he lost his job not because the state was cutting costs but because he was fired. There's a bit of a difference.

But considering that wife Patti was also recently fired from her job with the Chicago Christian Industrial League, what will the former government employee do for money? Does Rod qualify for unemployment benefits?

WBEZ spoke to Greg Rivara, spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Employment Security, whose automated telephone system was recently overwhelmed by the sharp increase of callers.

"People are qualified for unemployment insurance if they lose their job through no fault of their own, and they are looking for gainful employment," Rivara explained. "If you're discharged for cause, you don't collect."

So, is getting impeached considered as being "discharged for cause"?

"I don't know the answer to that question," said Rivara. "That question has never been considered. It's a road we've never had to travel."

It's not a question the unemployment office would ever have to consider actually. Unlike "tens of thousands of people all across America," politicians don't sacrifice portions of their salaries to unemployment.

"No elected official would be eligible to qualify for unemployment insurance based upon the wages that they earn in their official capacity," Rivara said. (An audio version of the interview is located at WBEZ's Web site.)

So what job should Blagojevich look into now? Bouncer? Door-to-door salesman?

What do you think? Share your comments below.

Matt Bartosik, former blogger of The Chicago Traveler and editor of Off the Rocks' next issue, considers himself unique, just like tens of thousands of other people consider themselves.

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