Wednesday, March 04, 2009

March Forth

Today is March Fourth, one of my favorite days of the year, the only day that is also a verb. And in that spirit, we offer the following advice for Illinoisans who are tired of business as usual in state government. The State Journal-Register editorialized over the weekend on the prospects for reform, noting, "Never has there been a more fertile time for political reform in Illinois government." The good news is that legislators are lining up to tout their support for reform bills. The bad news? It's March, not May, and nothing has passed yet. Reform is possible, and maybe even more likely now than usual, but mark our words -- nothing will happen unless voters demand it.

If you believe in reform and you have not yet called your legislators to tell them to support campaign reform, then pick up the phone already. Now is the time. And there are many, many opportunities in the coming weeks for you to make your views known. Write a letter. Make a phone call. Attend a hearing. Join a coalition. Do all these things. But do it now. Here's how to get involved:

* The SJ-R editorial offers advice on how to contact your public officials, including this information for the legislative leaders.

Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago
327 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706

House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago
300 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706

House Minority Leader Tom Cross, R-Oswego
316 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706

Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, R-Lemont
309A Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706

* Join a Coalition
Civic, non-profit and business leaders came together last week to announce a new reform coalition, CHANGE Illinois. The group, which includes ICPR, has launched a new website, Co-chairs include former DEA Administrator Peter Bensinger, Woods Fund President Deborah Harrington, and Chicago Metropolis 20/20 CEO George Ranney. At the launch, the group called for campaign contribution limits and more powers and resources for the State Board of Elections. To get involved, please visit their website.

* Attend a hearing
The legislative Joint Committee on Government Reform has cancelled tomorrow's hearing on Outside Influences on Government. But there remain hearings of the Joint Committee (PDF) and Gov. Quinn's Illinois Reform Commission in the weeks to come. All of these meetings are open to the public. Your elected officials need to hear from you. Here's an updated list of where they'll be:

Tuesday, March 10
Joint Committee on Government Reform - State Capitol - focused on Outside Influences on Government
Quinn Reform Commission Zeke Georgi Building Auditorium, 2000 S Wyman Street, Rockford
Tuesday, March 17
Joint Committee on Government Reform - State Capitol - focused on Campaign Reform
Tuesday, March 24
Joint Committee on Government Reform - State Capitol - focused on Procurement Issues
Thursday, March 26
Quinn Reform Commission TBD, Quad Cities
Tuesday, March 31
Joint Committee on Government Reform - State Capitol - focused on Procurement Issues
Monday, April 6
Quinn Reform Commission University of Illinois College of Law, Max L Rowe Auditorium, 504 E Pennsylvania Ave.
Thursday, April 23
Quinn Reform Commission TDB, East St. Louis
Tuesday, April 28
Quinn Reform Commission TDB, DeKalb

At the same time that voters are outraged about the corrupt practices of the Blagojevich administration and their long-term impact on the state, news reports are claiming that reform is "not a very popular position" in the Capitol. You know what legislators have to do. Tell them: in person, by phone, in the mail, and by joining together with other reformers. Now is the time.

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