Vallas On Blagojevich: ‘Illinois Has Deserved Better’

CHICAGO (CBS) — The man who almost kept Rod Blagojevich out of the governor’s mansion a decade ago now says it’s sad to see what the now-imprisoned governor did to the state.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports, former Chicago Public Schools chief executive officer Paul Vallas said, “Illinois has deserved better.”

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports

Vallas came close to beating Blagojevich in the Democratic gubernatorial primary in 2002.

But Blagojevich won, and was reelected to a second term four years later – only to be arrested while still in office in December 2008, convicted of 18 counts of corruption last year, and sentenced to a 14-year prison term that he began serving last week.

Vallas says it’s hard not to think about what might have been if he had been elected governor instead.

“Things could have really been different, and it’s really too bad,” Vallas said.

Vallas said Blagojevich’s tenure in Illinois left devastating problems.

“Things have certainly progressed regressed considerably over the last 10 years,” he said.

Still, Vallas prefers not to dwell on the past. He says his loss in the governor’s race left him to pursue important roles, including rebuilding the schools in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and those in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.

Vallas’ term as CPS chief executive began in 1995, when then-Mayor Richard M. Daley took direct control the school system and overhauled its governance structure. He resigned in 2001 to run for governor, and was replaced by Arne Duncan, who went on to become U.S. Education Secretary.

After losing to Blagojevich, Vallas took over the school system in Philadelphia. He considered returning to Illinois to run for governor in 2006, but decided not to do so.

In 2008, Vallas said he planned to run as a Republican in the 2010 race for Cook County Board president, but again later changed his mind.

  • Army Vet,VN

    I remember,I think Vallas would have done a good job,but the crooked irishman Daley kept him from having a chance,.

  • Slats Royko

    Paul Vallas is a class act. If he ever ran for mayor, and I hope he does, me, my wife my family, my wires role family and my whole neighborhood would vote for him!!! WE NEED AND HONEST PERSON TO RUN THIS CITY AND THAT IS PAUL VALLAS!!! I never faulted him for leaving this bess pool of corruption.

  • Dan

    Thanks for staying away in 2006 Paul.


    One of the worst school chiefs that every lived.


    Paul Vallas is an absolute CRIMINAL!! He has the best public relations machine I’ve ever seen in my life. He does absolutely NOTHING and not only does no one call him on it, because no one questions his claims, they actually make him sound like he accomplished something! Amazing!

    I thought he was supposed to be in Haiti right now “saving” their schools. But here I see he’s hanging out in Illinois. What happened there? The press will STILL say he did a remarkable job with the Haitian schools because they’re too lazy to check it out or consider why he’s not there right now.

    He kept saying how he provided books, new desks, etc. in Philadelphia. He did NONE of that, but no one asked him if he could prove his claims.

    He did NOTHING for New Orleans, except for a little administrative window dressing. But no one asked him to prove his claims of a great make-over there, either.

    It’s INCREDIBLE what this guy gets away with!!!

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