Waiting to Be Rocked
For almost the enitrety of my tenure as a legislator, I have worked with a handful of colleagues and some good government groups on the issues of campaign finance reform and governmental ethics. Often times, these efforts were met with disdain and contempt by many of my colleagues. And despite the patent commonsense nature of some of these measures (prohibiting state inspectors from soliciting contributions from people and businesses they inspect), these fights often take years (8 in the case of the Inspector Misconduct Act) But occasionally you win one and it keeps you energized to fight on.
Having had these fights with Governor Ryan for his whole tenure, and helping my House predecessor become Governor, I had assumed that things would be markedly different. But many of the proponents of the countless reforms that still need to be enacted are still saddled with a sense of frustration.
What got me to write about this today is an column by Bernie Schoenburg in today's Journal-Register that started off by talking about Ray LaHood's critique of the state of Illinois politics. And the focus here is campaign finance reform, not LaHood. Bernie adeptly notes the political upside to getting in front of the reform issue, noting:
But If the governor can take time away from the publicity train he's now boarded to seek a way to get insurance to all children in Illinois, you can bet he'll give the finance reform package a go in the legislature sometime between now and the election of November 2006.
PETE GIANGRECO, a spokesman for the Blagojevich campaign, said the governor's top priority during the veto session, which starts Oct. 25, will be passage of the All Kids insurance program. Giangreco also said that Republicans nationally have generally supported campaign disclosure, but not the kinds of reforms both Blagojevich and LaHood are now talking about.
"We welcome Ray LaHood belatedly to the fight," Giangreco said. (emphasis added)
This past March, the Governor talked about rocking the system. Nothing happened for two months until mid-May, at which time, they put out a press release, not a bill, but a press release, touting the plan. (Not wanting to rain on some very good ideas, I held my tongue when asked about the release, not realizing that a crumple was fair game for a news story. My comments would have been much more newsworthy.) Then a bill gets dropped way past the time when anything could have been done during session.
And they welcome LaHood belatedly to the fight? I sat on the Governor's ethics transition team with some of the best and brightest this state has to offer. We all knew then, and know now, what needed to be done.
So where's this rant going? If there is time to draft and pass a major initiative like All Kids during Veto Session, there is sure as hell the time to enact a lot of these overdue reform measures. And do it without the poison pills like caps on interPAC transfers which, right or wrong, is a surefire non-starter with the leaders.
At a bare minimum, I would like the Governor to show the same leadership that he is showing on All Kids, on House Bill 4073, (Fritchey-Black), which eliminates pay to play by state contractors. How wide is the support for that measure? Keep your eyes on the papers in the next couple of weeks. This bill can, and should, be passed during Veto Session.
It's not my intention to get into a snit with the Governor's folks, although it is interesting that while every other group has worked with me on these issues, I have been excluded from participation by the Governor's office. I have pleaded with them to move on this stuff, for both political as well as substantive reasons. Listen, I don't care who gets the credit for this stuff, let's just get it done.
At the end of the day, many of us are sick and tired of being collateral victims of the public perception of elected officials which results from the actions of others. Not to take a thing away from insuring our children, but the Governor was not swept into office by health insurance issues, it was by a populace fed up with business as usual. The Governor's people are great at knowing how to push the right political buttons. How can you pick up a paper and not understand what the big button is right now?
The All Kids proposal shows that when there is a will, they can always find a way. Rock on.