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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Illinois Insults New York in Bid to Claim Top Corruption State

State of corruption
The Chicago Tribune - February 15, 2009

One governor imprisoned at the gray-bar hotel, another heaved out of office—and in each case, the corruption of our body politic exposed. Headlines speak of bold crimes, self-serving schemes and raw unfairnesses that suffuse our statehouse, our county buildings, our city halls. Which begs a simple question: Does each of us care enough to demand better? Because until now—scandal after infuriating scandal, election after lackadaisical election—our customary answer has been: No, not really, this is how it is here. We, the 12 million-plus people of Illinois, haven't behaved as if we know we're both co-conspirators and victims: We haven't asked enough integrity from our public officials, from our laws and from the people paid to enforce them. But we also haven't asked enough integrity from ourselves.

Today's newspaper marks the launch—on the news pages and on the editorial page—of a Chicago Tribune campaign against the Illinois culture of political sleaze. We speak of culture, not just of crime, because citizens of this state have been ravaged and disadvantaged by offenses from outright thievery to lawful deception: For every pol who allegedly tries to sell a U.S. Senate seat, hundreds of others are exploiting us for personal or political gain. Changing that culture of sleaze will mean appreciating that we've all been cheated as much by favors as by fraud. The proven cost of conniving and clout in this state ranges from whose children get the choice jobs to whose children get incinerated in the van wreck. Survey results in today's Tribune suggest that citizens see our state as shovel-ready for reform. If so, we'll need more than hopeful thoughts. We'll need to know how insiders seized so many of our governments, and we'll need an agenda for seizing them back. We'll also need to reconsider, yes, our perverse pride in "how it is here"—our sly boasts about corrupt officials as if they were latter-day Al Capones. We should quell that temptation by remembering how, a decade ago, crashes caused by truckers who had paid bribes for Illinois licenses killed nine innocents: Did people die so we could crack wise about our culture of corruption?

An agenda for Illinois Step One in eradicating that culture, paradoxically, is realizing how well it works for so many among us—some needy but some greedy. Consider the temptations: Our border signs should proclaim "The Government State": Illinois has 6,994 units of government—counties, municipalities, school districts and so on. Pennsylvania (4,871) ranks a distant second. Each Illinois government has authority and, usually, a budget. So there are understandable reasons why people can be frantic to influence governments—like banks, they're where the money is. The power of our officials to give jobs, to issue contracts and to grant requests can profoundly change lives and fortunes. What of that is corrupt and what is, as criminal defendants often whimper, "just politics"? Former federal prosecutor Patrick Collins, head of a reform commission now examining state government, offers a simple test: If someone wants to conceal a government act, odds are it's illicit. Attacking the secrecy that shrouds so much of government in Illinois will be one focus of the Tribune's coverage: Each of us should be able to police the spending of his or her tax dollars. This coverage also will isolate practices as subtle as the gerrymandering of politicians' district lines to guarantee easy re-elections—and as overt as the Chicago City Council's insulation of itself from investigation by the city's inspector general. You'll read fresh explorations of how donors finance campaigns in this state—and of whether that can be restricted without gutting our 1st Amendment protections. Other areas of concern: Can we entice state and local prosecutors to more aggressively pursue public corruption—a duty that until now they've left largely to the feds? Can we empower our majority of law-abiding public servants to help make every government in Illinois more honest and fair? How, that is, does the Prairie State grow healthier public lawns and crowd out its noxious weeds?

No newspaper, no citizenry, can change human nature so much as to end betrayal of public trust. Together, though, all of us can make the costs of betrayal higher—and its consequences at the polling place severe. Silencing the Illinois Lullaby Illinois lawmakers used the impeachment and trial of a sitting governor to tell the rest of us about their devotion to cleaner and more open government. They sang an Illinois Lullaby of words both obtuse and soothing: transparency, ethics, accountability. They warbled that they're "open to change" and "willing to discuss." Not good enough. Time to silence the Illinois Lullaby and get on with dramatic changes to how Illinois government treats the people of this state. One goal of the Tribune's effort will be to sort genuine reform proposals from phony suggestions that slyly insulate the status quo. We've let our pols get away with that for far too long. From now on, let's judge our elected officials by their effectiveness or impotence at delivering reform. Enough with "effort." Illinois needs results. Thwarting the opportunists The challenge for all of us will be to sustain our demand for those results. Time and again, Illinois pols have slow-walked reforms. They know that the rest of us tend to get bored or distracted.

That means we'll need to remind ourselves of how corruption costs each one of us: The dishonest officeholder teaches us cynicism about our government, our democracy. The agency that hires from a patronage list cheats more qualified applicants of a shot at a job. The board that promotes someone in order to inflate his or her pension calculation embitters private-sector workers who will have no pensions at all. The bureaucrat who clouts a contract to his boss' contributor repays a donation with our tax dollars. Worst of all, perhaps, corruption leaves too many of us apathetic. If everybody thinks the fix is in, then nobody believes. Nobody cares. That sort of lassitude got us where we are. We've surrendered too much of government in Illinois—too much of our responsibility—to crooks and opportunists. The taking of Illinois has happened over many decades: Our culture of political sleaze is a muscular beast that won't easily die. Never in our lifetimes, though, has a scandal left that culture so vulnerable to the threat of real reform. Those of us at the Tribune promise our best effort to make that reform happen. Together, let's not squander this unique and emboldening moment.


Anonymous said...

The major culprit, "The Tribune," is moaning about the corruption it has covered up for a century. The proper message to the suckers of Illinois: You know that our government is totally corrupt and we had the power to expose that corruption but we failed because we had our hand in the cookie jar too and we protected all the corrupt politicians and judges and endorsed them for election and if you're stupid enough you'll continue top believe that we are honest. In NY, papers can print the same message.

Anonymous said...

Then as the message warns.... Don't go back to sleep...

Anonymous said...

Citizens of Illinois and NY will not become enraged about or battle ready against government and judicial corruption...unless they read the facts and details in the media! Full black and white exposure.

Unfortunately people have so much to be concerned about all around them, that unless they see that a large viable supporter, as the media could and should be, is fighting with them and welcomes there help with offerings from them of real direction, most will sit back and hate the state of things that exist and remain isolated and clueless about the action they need to take.

The media is the hunt that will appropriately address our state's I know fully... because that is the only catalyst that the CJC uses to investigate elected higher court judges...those above town and villages!

The media...good the block against your government being held accountable...and they know it...and still proceed to continue with their non-reporting of their intensive inside knowledge of the many crimes being committed against you!

Hold the Editors of all NY papers.... accountable for their enabling of a Government Mafia...that cannot be touched!

Anonymous said...

All of the above comments are right on.

The corrupt scum know that the media is the first thing they have to silence.

The media coverage of the Lippman hearings are a scandal in themselves. The only reporter that mentioned the opposition was AP's Mike Virtanen, and even he failed to mention that the opposition testimony was never investigated, before the confirmation was rushed to the senate floor.

We must let the media know that we will not put up with their whitewashing. Write them, call them!

PLEASE call WNYC, and let them know that they must cover judicial corruption. (646) 829-4000

Anonymous said...

Wait a minute .... N.Y. is a formidable contender for champion.

We have sleeze from the top politician/lawyers ripping off the public to the lowest level D.A. who represents and prosecutes the same person at the same time.
We have lawyers that not only solicit prostitutes ,but run houses of prostitution.
Attorneys that rob the elderly of their homes and life savings are regular occurences with the blessings of the Judges.
We can alter court records and transcripts and appoint incompetents to over see important court family matters.
And I`m just warming up !!!

Blog Archive

See Video of Senator John L. Sampson's 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption

The first hearing, held in Albany on June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:

               Video of 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption
               The June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:
               CLICK HERE TO SEE Part 1
               CLICK HERE TO SEE Part 2