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It's Not Always That Hard to Take Advice From the Governor

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Governor Rod Blagojevich seems to have advice for everyone. If it's not for state lawmakers about ethics reform, it's to Barack Obama on how he shouldn't get caught in a Republican trap by siding against the governor in a battle over . . . ethics.

Blagojevich says Mark Cuban should own the Cubs if the team wants to be competitive every year. (Congrats on somehow wrapping up the NL Central without him, Cubbies.)

And he says the CTA would be advised not to scare customers with Doomday scenarios and fare increases, or he'll replace the CTA board with one that will think independently.

These are just some of the governor's most recent tips and how-to's. It's part of his job, obviously, to advise and bully and point out how things should and could be done for the benefit of the community or state.

Now I don't know if Mark Cuban should buy the Cubs, or if Obama should listen to Blago about political traps, but one piece of gubernatorial advice that I will stand by is a piece of neighborly advice.

I inadvertently moved onto Blagojevich's street last March. When checking out the apartment for the first time, my future landlord told me about the neighborhood, the train line, and about how the governor lives down the street with his security detail always out front.

A few weeks later my wife and I set out on our first run. Less than two minutes in, we're being waved at by a guy holding a newspaper on his front lawn. As we chug closer, the man who I now recognized as Blagojevich is saying something. We both pull off our headphones.

"Where are you guys headed to?"

"We don't really know," I said. "We just moved in down the street."

He's interested. Actually, he's completely excited to talk to us about the neighborhood and running: "I ran six miles this morning. If you're looking for a good route, you should go over Lawrence and go along the river on the paths. You can go North for miles."

"I think we're just going to go west for a bit and then turn around," I said. "Maybe do a total of three or four miles."

Not backing down, the governor tells us that we should really go up the river around here instead. My wife still isn't sure who this guy is, but I'm laughing on the inside and out by this point.

"I'm Claire," my wife said.

"Hi, Claire."

"And I'm Greg," I said, extending my hand. "Rod, right?"

He paused for a moment before shaking my hand. It felt to me as if I ruined this friendly neighbor ruse he was putting on, but it wasn't as if his four-person security detail yards away wasn't a tip-off. "Rod, right," he said. "Feel free to come by anytime and I'll give you directions on where to go. Just knock anytime."

We thanked him, put our headphones back on and continued west, crossing Kedzie and soon feeling like we were the only people in Chicago who ever chose this route for a run. If the evil staring wasn't enough, the crumbling sidewalks and trash caused us to turn around and head for Lawrence and the river.

This running route is our favorite one, easily. We've lived here for six months and no one else has advised us on this river path, so it's safe to say that the next time we see Neighbor Rod out picking up his paper and he wants to give us some advice, we'll most likely take it.

But if Governor Blagojevich wants to advise Obama or the CTA Board or the Cubs to do something, it's probably best for everyone to seek a second opinion.