Wednesday, September 29, 2010



Today’s Chicago Tribune is festooned with a page 1 article regarding the ambiguity regarding State Treasurer and Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias’s departure date from the formerly family owned Broadway Bank. It seems young Alexi has been telling everyone he left the bank in 2005, which would put a little distance between him and the bank’s many foibles, including most especially the huge loan the bank made to Tony Rezko in February of 2006. However, young Alexi told the IRS that he left the bank in 2006, allowing him to take a $2.7 million tax deduction in 2009, obviating the need for young Alexi to pay taxes that year. The article goes on to tell us about the elaborately choreographed song and dance Mr. Giannoulias has been engaging in since this discrepancy has made itself into the public domain, which consists primarily of saying that he was working at the bank in 2006 but was not really working at the bank in 2006. One supposes it depends on what the definition of the word “work” is.

The main story is interesting enough, but, as is my wont, I found more compelling a line in the article that is ancillary to the main story. According to the Trib story, young Alexi’s Senate campaign website offers the following explanation of his decision to leave the bank at the age of 30 to pursue the Treasurer’s office:

It was because my father instilled in his sons the importance of helping others that I decided to leave the bank in 2005 to pursue public service.


This statement leads to a number of questions. Isn’t banking, done properly and honestly, a means of “helping others”? Apparently, young Alexi doesn’t think so, but one would think that making loans, providing a secure place to park one’s money, clearing checks, and providing financial advice would be a wonderful way to “help others,” at least as helpful as anything a politician, even a politician in such a vaunted position as the State Treasurer, can do for people. Is holding public office the only way to “help others”? From the above explanation of his decision to ditch the banking business for the glamour of public life, young Alexi apparently thinks so. If the senior Mr. Giannoulias shared his son’s apparent belief that banking does not involve “helping others,” that “helping others” is the exclusive domain of the public sector, and he placed such a high priority on “helping others,” why did he continue in the banking business? Why didn’t he, in his ardor to “help others” pursue elected, or appointed office?

Perhaps the “done properly and honestly” stipulation in the first sentence of the prior paragraph does not apply to Broadway Bank, and/or perhaps young Mr. Giannoulias is feeding us the typical bull excrement that emanates with remarkable regularity from his (and, to be fair to young Alexi, most politicians’) campaign(s) and his pursuit of public service was more a way of gratifying his own outsized ego than a good opportunity to “help others.”

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