Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Ethics Debate Today

Our friends at the Union League Club hosted a meeting this morning that was intended to wrap up the Spring legislative session. That session isn’t over didn’t dampen their turnout, nor the comments of their panelists: the Daily Southtown’s Kristen McQueary, the Rev. Sen. James Meeks, and Capitol Fax’s Rich Miller. At the end of the panelists’ comments, moderator and Roosevelt University professor Paul Green opened the floor to questions, and the very first question was from a gentleman (not me) who noted “the one word I haven’t heard any of you mention is corruption.” He wanted to know why that wasn’t higher on the agenda.

A good question, I thought. Not so, Prof. Green. He responded that ethics is not worth discussing because “nobody is opposed to ethics. No candidate is pro-crime." And with no opponents, there’s no discussion

Just because the discussion doesn’t fit your script, however, doesn’t mean it’s not happening. While we and some others have urged consideration of a host of reform ideas, some voices are saying no. They’re not saying “as the pro-crime candidate, I can’t support that”. They're saying, "There are already laws." They’re saying, “we’ve passed significant reforms...we believe that we need to take the time to let those reforms work." They’re saying, “there's not a huge appetite from any corner for real campaign finance reform” They’re saying, “It's clear the … bill won't pass. And if it did, it would actually kill any chances of comprehensive reform.” They’re offering up any excuse they can think of for not doing anything. Or they’re simply not letting the bills out of Rules.

But to say there are no opponents to ethics, just says you’re not listening. Let’s be clear: Illinois is facing a confluence of ethics investigations at all levels of government, in all parts of the state. Illinois needs new reform legislation now.

No comments: