APRIL 29, 2009
A commission created to help clean up statewide political corruption in Illinois has issued its recommendations but the measures may never be implemented since most require the approval of the very legislators targeted for wrongdoing.
Among the Illinois Reform Commission’s recommended changes are forcing the state legislature to comply with open records and open meetings rules, banning self-interest from legislative redistricting and implementing much-needed checks to the budget approval process
It also suggests term limits for leadership positions at the state capital, eliminating loopholes in the shady way state contracts are currently granted and limits on political campaign contributions. The independent advisory group, headed by a former federal prosecutor, offered its reform proposals in a 95-page report made public this week.
The commission was created by executive order to examine Illinois’ government practices and ethics in the wake of numerous scandals that have rocked the state in the last few years, most recently the indictment and impeachment of its crooked governor. Commission members have expertise in a range of fields, including business, law enforcement, government, education and military.
They introduce their extensive report by mentioning statewide allegations of corruption that would shock the “most cynical of us” and evidence of Illinoisans renewing their hope for a government untainted by pay-to-play politics and corrupt officials.
The Prairie State has a long history of crooked politicians that include a Republican governor (George Ryan) in prison after multiple corruption convictions, a Democrat governor (Rod Blagojevich) recently arrested and charged for selling the influence of his office to the highest bidder, a veteran Chicago alderman (Arenda Troutman) guilty of taking bribes and numerous pay-to-play scandals in the Windy City.
This sort of public corruption has for years been so pervasive that the state’s largest newspaper published an editorial declaring a campaign against the Illinois “culture of political sleaze.” The piece actually accuses all Illinoisans of not asking enough integrity from public officials, laws and the people paid to enforce them.
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