Do you cringe inside when someone makes fun of Illinois pay-to-play politics? We recovering Blago voters are fed up with it, so Vince and I went to a hearing of the Illinois Reform Commission Thursday night (3-26-09) in Rock Island, on the invitation of Chris Butler of Citizen Action.
Sheila Simon, daughter of the late Sen. Paul Simon and his wife Jeanne, was on the panel as a commission member and she seems just as impressive as her parents were.
The Commission will soon recommend steps to clean up Illinois politics, which will be submitted to the legislature. Citizens from around the state are proposing ideas like prohibiting political contributions from companies doing business with the state for a year or another period of time before and after the contract; putting all contributions to office holders on a public website, as well as all state projects, contracts, change orders and schedules; making no-bid contracts illegal in all instances.
When the report comes out in another couple of months, it will be interesting to see who opposes it. Hopefully some journalists will follow the money and let us all know.
There were some questionable ideas aired at the hearing in Rock Island, like making state legislature elections non-partisan. Well, yeah, there are some dysfunctional elements of the political parties in Illinois, but they give us voters a general idea of the philosophy of government of the candidates. No need to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Be prepared to participate in the discussions of how to clean up Illinois politics. Citizen Action/Illinois and the Illinois Campaign Finance Reform Coalition have created the Lincoln Agenda to rebuild state government. "The Lincoln Agenda" calls for publicly financed elections, comprehensive limits on contributions, improvements to the Statements of Economic Interest, shutting the revolving door between public offices and lobbying firms, and other reforms.