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Bradley hosted the sixth meeting of the Illinois Reform Commission (IRC) on campus on March 30, 2009.
Brad McMillan, executive director for Bradley's Institute for Principled Leadership in Public Service and a member of the IRC, co-chaired the hearing. Expert witnesses offered testimony on redistricting, decentralizing Springfield’s power structure, recalling elected officials, and setting term limits.
The Commission was established by Governor Patrick Quinn to examine government practices and re-evaluate its processes to clean up Illinois' government. The Commission will submit recommendations for legislative reform to the Governor by April 27.
Among those offering comment were Sarah Shadnia '09 and Justin Green '10. Read the text of their comments below.
Sarah Shadnia's comments to the Illinois Reform Commission
Enough is enough. How have we gotten to the point of corruption in which people refer to Illinois and laugh when we were once a state of dignified politics and known for ethics attributed to honest Abe.
We have had three governors in the past 30 years who have been jailed for their wrong doings and one with his foot in the door. We are infamous for our Chicago politics with the Daley machine, where the dead can vote.
Across the political spectrum, Illinoisans are ashamed of their elected officials and how politics are run in this state. We are told to trust our politicians because they have our best interests at heart and are going to carry through on their campaign promises. But with reports emerging day in and day out of corruption, our faith in the system is quickly dying.
Instead of our government coming together during these trouble times, we are having witch hunts against other politicians. It appears these officials are out for themselves and are doing whatever is necessary to keep themselves in power. Our politicians feel their services and access to the government are up sale like on eBay and are selling it to the highest bidder.
The case of former governor Rod Blagojevich was only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to corruption because occurrence have manifested themselves many times over in all levels of government. The former governor just got caught.
Our image was recouping with Barack Obama’s historical win of the presidential election last November. Former governor George Ryan’s license for bribes scandal was just beginning to die down. And instead of honoring President Obama’s service and commitment to his community, we were slapped in the face with Rod Blagojevich’s subpoena and subsequent impeachment.
The status quo of corrupt politics is not good enough anymore. Riding on Barack Obama’s coattails, now is the time for change. I agree with Governor Quinn’s decision to clean up Illinois. This reform commission is something we can all stand behind, and we need to in order to bring back the dignified politics and known for ethics that we were known for.
President John F. Kennedy once said, “The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.” The sun is shining on Illinois and now is the time to repair that roof.
Justin Green's comments to the Illinois Reform Commission
Illinois politics has become the laughing stock of the nation. We have gone from the once great state of Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan, to the source for Saturday Night Live skits week after week. Illinois has made the national news for months because of our corrupt officials.
Our political system has transformed, and no longer is Illinois a beacon of ethics and honesty. Our political system has stacked against us. It did not start nor will it end with Governor Blagojevich, but has spread like a cancer into many aspects of our state government. And now this diseased form of politics has spread into our national government.
With decisions being made behind closed doors by a small handful of the political elite, our government has become dysfunctional. It works as a tool for those politically elite, instead of as a tool for the people of Illinois. Our districts were created to save the positions of politicians and were not created in a sense that would represent the people’s desires.
We have to bring Illinois back to us, the people of Illinois. We must demand to be heard and tell our politicians that we will hold them accountable for their decisions. With a lot of media attention on Illinois, the time is right for real change. All this change needs is a voice. This voice must be from the people of Illinois.
It is now the responsibility of us to bring the power back to equilibrium, and allow for every part, north, south, east, and west of Illinois to have a say in the future of our state. The “Chicago”-style of politics has to come to an end. We must give the good politicians from this area a chance to shine. Politicians like State Senator Bill Brady, United States Congressman Mark Kirk, and United States Congressman Aaron Schock are fighting the good fight and we need to give them the opportunity to show the rest of the nation that Illinois is not completely lost.
There are many things that I am at odds with Governor Pat Quinn over, but I fully support his efforts in creating this commission. This commission serves as the first step to giving a new face to Illinois. This is not a Republican or Democrat issue, it is an Illinois issue, and none of us have anything to gain from the condition our state is now in.
I one day look to enter the political stages of Illinois, and I want to participate in a system that is ethical and balanced. A system in which the officials with the support of the people make the decisions. A system that allows for all ideas to be discussed and debated. But, we all have a stake in this, and that is why we must all take a stand.
The stench of corruption has spread like a dark cloud over Illinois politics, and this commission is a great leap towards cleaning that stench. President Teddy Roosevelt once said, “Character, in the long run, is the decisive factor in the life of an individual and of nations alike.” Illinois has lost its former character of honest and ethical politicians. Through the efforts of the commission and the people of Illinois we can and will restore this character.