Quinn’s Reform Commission holds forum at University

Gov. Pat Quinn’s Reform Commission spoke at the University’s Law School Monday night.

Champaign became the sixth city to hold a public forum about reforming Illinois politics, and the first since the release of a primary report offered suggestions to clean up Illinois politics. Three representatives of Gov. Quinn’s 100-day initiative Illinois Reform Commission, including the commission’s chair, Patrick Collins, came to speak at the University.

Attendees at the town hall style meeting agreed that the status quo is no longer acceptable; something resonated by the three commissioners present.

“We’re trying to create a blueprint for reform in Illinois government,” Collins said.

The discussion was primarily about the need for transparency in Illinois’ politics and the end of pay-to-play politics, which has plagued the state’s government, most notably with the administrations of former governors George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich.

“Transparency makes it much harder for politicians to get away with corruption if it’s out in the open,” said commission member David Hoffman, also the inspector general for Chicago.

He stressed that transparency will not end corruption, rather, there will hopefully be significantly less corruption.

The recent federal indictment of ousted Blagojevich also brought up issues about campaign finance. The commission proposed putting limits on campaign contributions, noting the abnormal amount of contributions of $25,000 or more given to Blagojevich’s gubernatorial campaigns, in comparison with past governors.

“The truth is obviously that (corruption) can change,” Hoffman said.

He added that people are embarrassed and angry about the butt of jokes on national television and are ready for reform.

The third commissioner present at the meeting was Rev. Scott Willis. Willis’ six children died in an accident linked to corruption in Ryan’s administration.

Willis quoted a book, saying, “An ongoing commitment is required to guarantee a flourishing democracy.”

Willis said that the commissioners have a voice but not a vote. The commissioners encouraged citizens to study the group’s findings and speak with legislatures to help foster change.