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People of Illinois happy to see Blagojevich go

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[January 30, 2009]  CHICAGO (AP) -- People across Illinois who watched former Gov. Rod Blagojevich get the boot Thursday said they hoped removal of the scandal-plagued governor helps the state begin rebuilding its image after weeks of ridicule.

"I figured it was coming," said Darlene Lewis, an investment securities representative in Chicago, after the state Senate's 59-0 vote. "He needs to be impeached. He's not above the law."

RestaurantFrom Chicago's famous Billy Goat Tavern to southern Illinois farm country, many residents said they were weary after weeks of watching the state become a laughingstock.

"I'm in the camp that says, 'Finally.' I'm glad we're moving forward," said Richard Borgsmiller from his farm near Murphysboro.

By Thursday, Borgsmiller had run out of patience with Blagojevich, believing the governor peddled influence, abused his power and showed "a little bit of arrogance" by living in Chicago instead of the governor's mansion in Springfield.

"From the get-go, that was something that bothered me," he said.

At the Billy Goat, Gene Ciepierski considered Blagojevich's impeachment "very embarrassing."

"I think it's a shame that with our city and Illinois, everybody thinks we're all corrupt," Ciepierski said after watching the announcement of Blagojevich's fate, which played on all the bar's televisions. "To think he would do something like that, it hurts more than anything."

Some of Blagojevich's former political foes rejoiced -- cautiously.

"Nobody is happier to see Rod go than I am, but this is not time to celebrate," said Edwin Eisendrath, a former Chicago alderman who lost to Blagojevich in the 2006 Democratic primary. "We have serious and sobering work to do before we firmly close this sorry chapter in our state's history."

Earlier Thursday, Blagojevich's 47-minute speech to the state Senate played big in Chicago's Loop, where lunch-goers paused in front of a billboard-sized TV screen facing Daley Plaza.

Brian David, a student at the University of Illinois-Chicago, found the Democrat's bid to save his job unconvincing.

"I just don't think I believe him at all," David said.

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Chicago attorney Thomas Westgard called Blagojevich's last stand in Springfield "hilarious and saddening. It's one of those laugh or cry things."

"It's so shocking you don't know how to react," Westgard said. "He needs to go. They're correct to throw him out."

At JV's Downtown Bar and Grill in Waterloo, a community of less than 9,000 people southeast of St. Louis, off-duty bartender Patrick Meegan nursed a bottle of Bud Light after watching Blagojevich get removed.

Meegan's only surprise: That the vote was unanimous, "a clean sweep."

"I thought there might be a couple of dissenters," said Meegan, who voted for Blagojevich in 2002 but sided with his opponent four years later.

"He made his plea in front of the Senate, and it didn't work," Meegan said. "I'm glad this is done. Let's start all over. We're the laughingstock of the country."

[Associated Press; By JIM SUHR]

Associated Press writers Don Babwin and Rupa Shenoy contributed to this report from Chicago.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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