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Friday, February 20, 2009

Can Illinois be reformed?

I'm starting to get the feeling that whatever reform legislation that might get passed this session will end up being a few ill-fitting pieces that really do nothing to straighten out the mess we're in.

From the Daily Herald Animal Farm Blog (Little hope for campaign finance reform):

If the public is hoping the latest confounding scandals in Illinois politics will prod major campaign finance reform, they are likely going to be disappointed. That is if Senate President John Cullerton, a Chicago Democrat, has anything to say about. And he does.
Cullerton told the Daily Herald editorial board Monday he thinks Illinois' wide-open campaign finance system is just fine and repeated the mantra of lawmakers who have long refused systemic change: disclosure, disclosure, disclosure.

In theory, that's right. If a politician shakes down a donor for big money in exchange for a job or state contract, the donation is public record, and the contract is public record. Disclosure doesn't stop it from happening.

From the SJ-R (Toughen sunshine laws, issue fines, AG says):

Illinois must revise its public records disclosure law in order to sweep away the culture of secrecy favored by Rod Blagojevich and restore confidence in government, Attorney General Lisa Madigan said Wednesday.
Madigan, a Democrat in her second term as a statewide official, called on lawmakers to ensure that public records are open and accessible. At present, she said, it is “far too easy” for units of local government to evade their obligations under the Freedom of Information Act.
She proposed changing state law so that governmental bodies violating the FOIA would be subject to penalties — fines ranging from $100 to $1,000, depending on the size of the unit of government.

That's something. But, if we really want to make public records open and accessible, have them put on the Internet in an easy to search format. It's going to happen someday. The sooner, the better.

In somewhat related news, Governor Pat Quinn picked someone from Rod Blagojevich's administration for his chief operating officer. Jack Lavin had been recommended to Blagojevich by Tony Rezko. And while Lavin is reported to be good at his job and a person of integrity, he never was able to explain how his department inadvertently sent a million dollars in 2006 to the wrong entity. Last I heard, we hadn't gotten that money back.

Posted by Marie at February 20, 2009 12:04 AM

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