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Reform report - Read it all, watch the video *** UPDATED x1 ***

Tuesday, Apr 28, 2009

*** UPDATE *** I just noticed this in the commission report

Require exclusive employment for the Senate President and Speaker of the House positions with compensation commensurate with Illinois Supreme Court Justices.

In other words, no outside income for legislative leaders.

[ *** End of Update *** ]

* You can read the final report of the governor’s reform commission by clicking here. The press release is here.

* They want term limits for legislative leaders

A state government reform panel appointed by new Gov. Pat Quinn today proposed term limits for powerful legislative leaders, cutting back on lawmakers’ private meetings and overhauling a patronage-riddled hiring system.

“The nation’s eyes are upon us, they are watching what we do here. Will we get meaningful reform?” said Patrick Collins, the former federal prosecutor who chaired the commission. “The question for our state at this time in our history is what will be our response to this unprecedented crisis of integrity that we face.”

But not for governors

The Commission’s research suggested that gubernatorial term limits would produce only minor substantive effects in Illinois.

Speaker Madigan responds

House Speaker Michael Madigan, who I caught in an elevator a few minutes after Quinn’s press conference, was more reserved. “We view it as an honest effort to generate ideas,” said Madigan, who has ruled the House for most of the past 26 years. He went on to imply that the notion of limiting legisaltive leadership tenure is un-democratic.

* The commissioners were split on recall

As with general elective term limits, the Commission
was unable to make a unanimous recommendation regarding the direct recall of elected officials. While Commissioners acknowledge the merit of making elected officials more accountable to the voters, Commissioners were concerned about the potential unintended consequences of a reactionary endorsement of the recall power.

* They also want far more bills brought to the House and Senate floors

While the Commission applauds the recent Senate efforts to increase full committee hearing of proposed legislation, the Commission recommends modifying the process even further. To ensure due consideration of pending legislation, the Commission recommends that the House and Senate adopt rules requiring that each bill introduced to the Rules or Assignment Committees, as applicable, be subject to a
full committee vote if the bill has a minimum of sixteen sponsors in the House or eight sponsors in the Senate. The Commission believes that this will allow for consideration of all bills that have a reasonable chance of success, while preventing the waste of time that consideration of every single bill might engender.

* More

The commission urged… an overhaul of the way the state budget gets voted on by breaking it into pieces and holding public hearings on each piece, and de-emphasizing the power of the House and Senate Rules committees, which historically have been chokeholds on major pieces of legislation.

* More

The commission wants to make government more transparent by applying the Open Meetings act to the Illinois General Assembly and making state government approve more Freedom of Information Act requests.

* Gov. Quinn didn’t sign off immediately on the commission’s procurement reforms, saying he hadn’t had a chance to read them yet…

* The governor also said he’d be open to public financing for more than just judicial races…

More on that topic…

Quinn said Tuesday he wants voters to have the power to recall corrupt officials. That’s something the reform commission did not support. […]

The Chicago Democrat also says voters should be able to hold referendums on key ethics issues, so that lawmakers aren’t the only ones making decisions.

* The guv kinda waffled a bit on whether the GA ought to pass the reforms as is, right now…

* More videos from the guv’s presser are here.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - George - Tuesday, Apr 28, 09 @ 1:46 pm:

    The Speaker has a tough situation to be in - he has to support rational reforms but he is trying to avoid anything that characterizes him as part of the problem.

    Legislative leader term limits, contribution limits, reducing his power on committees… That all is targeted squarely at him.

    A lot of these are very valid suggestions, and potentially vital. But people have to find a way to get him to pass the reforms in a way that doesn’t require him to admit fault.

  2. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Apr 28, 09 @ 1:58 pm:

    I suspect the GA will pass a number of the recommendations that are aimed at the Executive and ignore the ones aimed at the Legislature.

  3. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Apr 28, 09 @ 2:09 pm:

    To the deleted commenter known as “Pat collins.” I don’t allow people to post under “real” names when they belong to other people. Come up with a new name.

  4. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Apr 28, 09 @ 2:12 pm:

    So, we’ve had a big problem with our last two governors and the commission says “no” to recall and “no” to term limits, but focuses much of its attention instead on the GA?

  5. - Tweed Thornton - Tuesday, Apr 28, 09 @ 2:13 pm:

    Patrick Collins should have an interesting speech tomorrow at the City Club of Chicago.

  6. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Tuesday, Apr 28, 09 @ 2:21 pm:

    The legislature’s feet need to be held to the fire on this well done report. Quinn is right in that a vote on each important issue needs to be taken and these elected officials need to be on the record-pro or con.

    I believe we will see the Speaker at his finest gamesmanship in dealing with this hot potato

  7. - Wacker Drive - Tuesday, Apr 28, 09 @ 2:24 pm:

    In with the new boss same as the old boss.

  8. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Apr 28, 09 @ 2:29 pm:

    Ditto to others here and elsewhere who suggest the Reform Commission’s proposals were more likely to be taken up at a Con Con than by the General Assembly.

    Having said that, I’m wondering why Quinn is going out of his way to antagonize the General Assembly. You’ve offered your proposals Governor, now move on to getting your budget passed and if the GA won’t act, do what you can via Executive Order and leading by example.

    Didn’t Quinn learn anything in the last six years? Here he is poking his thumb in the Speaker’s eye after watching Blagojevich use his middle finger. How’d that work out for Rod?

  9. - Anonymous45 - Tuesday, Apr 28, 09 @ 2:29 pm:

    I think Quinn is putting some mighty fine pressure on the legislators in return for their lack of support on recall and I can’t wait to watch the dancing of MJM…

  10. - huh? - Tuesday, Apr 28, 09 @ 2:47 pm:

    One question - would any of these recommendations have stopped Blagojevich? I think the answer is no.

    In the wake of the Governor’s scandal, this commission was supposed to look at ways to reform government, but they only provided ways to change the general assembly. I don’t get it. It wasn’t members of the senate that attempted to sell Barack Obama’s seat. It wasn’t members of the house sqeezing donors for campaign cash.

    There are some good ideas in the report, but theres not one reform aimed at only the executive. What stops the Rezkos and Kellys? No mention of anything to end that practice.

    I think the group is only after press releases when they target the general assembly rather than the executive.

  11. - Pat collins - Tuesday, Apr 28, 09 @ 2:54 pm:

    actually, that really was me. I am on and off two different locations today :)

  12. - Anon, Good Nurse, Anon - Tuesday, Apr 28, 09 @ 2:55 pm:

    I have to agree with “huh?”…It wasn’t the ILGA that tried to sell a Senate seat and is currently under federal indictment. Not that some of the Commission’s proposals regarding the GA aren’t valid. Could we see something regarding the Executive Office, please?

  13. - Stones - Tuesday, Apr 28, 09 @ 2:58 pm:

    It seems more than a bit hypocritical to advocate for term limits for legislative leaders but not executive branch leaders. We already have term limits called “election.”

  14. - paddyrollingstone - Tuesday, Apr 28, 09 @ 3:04 pm:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t Speaker Madigan really the only one standing in Governor Blagojevich’s way in Sringfield. And now, the Reform Commission says that he should have had a term limit as Speaker. That makes no sense. My feeling is that the Commission is playing its hand badly and that few of their reforms will come to fruition.

  15. - fedup dem - Tuesday, Apr 28, 09 @ 3:39 pm:

    The Reform Commission has bungled its way by focusing on legislative, rahter than executive changes. As a result, nothing of consequnece will get done.

    Proposals like term limits would require amending the Illinois Constitution. Since it takes a three-fiths majority to submit any amendment to the voters, we could easily see each house pass a proposal but narrowly block the other house’s plan (say by only receiving a simple majority but not the three-fifths needed).

  16. - Steve - Tuesday, Apr 28, 09 @ 3:44 pm:

    When Mike Madigan mentions term limits on leaders,he’s right it is un-democratic.So what? Restraining political power is a much more important value than letting majority rule tyranny run wild.There should be term limits on all politicians.We’d have more competitive elections and more open dialogue.

  17. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Apr 28, 09 @ 3:47 pm:

    ===There should be term limits on all politicians===

    I’m generally a lean-against on term limits, but why propose term limits for the leaders and none for the guv? Seems odd to me.

  18. - Louis G. Atsaves - Tuesday, Apr 28, 09 @ 3:49 pm:

    I’m still reading through this thing, all 95 pages of it. Do I need to brush up on my reading skills? Or is everyone commenting on the “Cliff Notes” version?

  19. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Apr 28, 09 @ 3:50 pm:

    Rich, given recent history, I guess they figure the U.S. Attorney already has imposed term limits on governors.

  20. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Apr 28, 09 @ 3:52 pm:

    Yeah, well Fawell reportedly dished on Madigan to the USA during the Ryan probe, and others did the same during the 2002 Lisa campaign (Birkett’s folks). That wound up nowhere, obviously, so this may be an alternate route.

  21. - anon III - Tuesday, Apr 28, 09 @ 3:53 pm:

    Follow the money. Forget term limits, just cap pensions of elected officials at eight years, the first eight.

  22. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Apr 28, 09 @ 3:54 pm:

    ===just cap pensions of elected officials at eight years===

    So, you’d do away with the vesting period? I’m not sure I follow you there.

    As I’ve said many times before, simple solutions are usually neither.

  23. - Spiney Norman - Tuesday, Apr 28, 09 @ 4:01 pm:

    I agree that term limits can be handled within the election process. My problem is that in this representative democracy I did not elect Madigan to represent me. Yet no one including my Rep’s can get anything done with out his blessing. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

  24. - Been There - Tuesday, Apr 28, 09 @ 4:29 pm:

    ===Require exclusive employment for the Senate President and Speaker of the House positions with compensation commensurate with Illinois Supreme Court Justices. ===
    This should actually be put in place for all legislators. Expensive? yes, but believe me, most of us have thought about hiring these guys law firms, buying insurance from them or using their real estate firms, etc. I’m not saying any legislator that I know of has used their outside employment for quid pro quo. But just the appearance of it possibly not being kept at arms length would make it a conflict of interest in most other business situations. At a minimum, maybe full disclosure of all clients who have a certain level of interest in dealing with the government.

  25. - Cosmic Charlie - Tuesday, Apr 28, 09 @ 4:38 pm:

    Collins is doing exactly what Blago did on this issue. Propose something so huge and sweeping that it is dead on arrival and now he will run around the state blasting the ‘powers that be’ for standing in the way of change while in reality he will be merely promoting his own personal ambitions.

    I said this before and i’ll say it again and again… what the Collins Commission is doing is to go around and adopt every reform proposal that has been floated over the years and lump it together as a so-called reform package. There is nothing new or original in their ideas. Its just a bunch of re-hashed bunk. I could have put this proposal out after a weekends worth of effort.

    Total farce.

  26. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Apr 28, 09 @ 4:59 pm:

    Illinois government is broken, yet the Collins Commission is expecting it to handle this?

    Our elected leaders can barely find the keys to unlock their office doors in the morning.

    Start small. The recall came close to passing. Try it again. Then build on that.

    We’re dealing with disfunctional government at Zimbabwean levels here. These people can’t figure much out beyond getting campaign funds for next year.

    Sad. But true.

  27. - hmm - Tuesday, Apr 28, 09 @ 6:42 pm:

    Rich - to answer about why leg leaders…

    My perspective is that if the people are unhappy with the governor, they can vote him/her out.

    With a leg leader, you can’t. And the leg leader has all the power in the world to stop an intraparty revolt when they control all the bills and all the money.

  28. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Apr 28, 09 @ 6:53 pm:

    Except, nowhere but in a certain Tribune column are those current legislative leaders corrupt. I fully understand the power issue. But what does this have to do with cleaning up gvt?

  29. - DuPage Dave - Tuesday, Apr 28, 09 @ 7:32 pm:

    The commission’s proposed “Department of Procurement” would be a huge disaster. Blago concentrated so much in CMS that it was difficult to get any kind of contract for any product or service. This would turn the difficult into the impossible. When you can only get one type of computer printer but then you can’t get ink cartridges for it (thanks to CMS), that’s annoying but not a disaster. They will only make things worse.

  30. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Apr 28, 09 @ 8:09 pm:

    –We’re dealing with disfunctional government at Zimbabwean levels here.–

    Another corrupt African state reference? It’s been done.

    Take a breath, do some reading and crack a dictionary.

  31. - Hmm - Tuesday, Apr 28, 09 @ 8:14 pm:

    That’s a good point, and why I maybe see a lot of these things as “good government” or “democratic” reforms, as opposed to “ethics” reforms.

    But they are still good ideas.

    Though some may say there is an ethical issue inherent in a leg leader controlling all the money and all the bills.

    Maybe a good way to think about it is : what would Rod do if he were speaker of the house and head of DPI.

  32. - WindyCityGardener - Tuesday, Apr 28, 09 @ 8:36 pm:

    If Quinn was serious about cleaning up state government he would dismantle CMS. This is nothing more than a corrupt political organization.
    I don’t see him doing that. Because everyone knows that’s where the money, state contracts and jobs get doled out. Billions of taxpayer dollars wasted with incompetent contractors. It will never change. Quinn has already gotten a taste of the power and will do anything to keep it.
    CMS will lead him to the money and jobs just like they did for Blagojevich. CMS was the biggest enabler Blagojevich had.
    Now they have latched on to Quinn. Play it again Sam.

  33. - Jordan - Tuesday, Apr 28, 09 @ 8:50 pm:

    Term limits for everyone throughout the state. Lack of term limits constrains innovation, accountability, and competition. Journalists would have fun doing their jobs again covering more than the same faces for 35 years. It is really sad in this state - power is controlled by the few for too long. Those in power control everything without true accountability. It both dumbs down and corrupts the whole system. Term limits! (3 terms for Gov and Mayors, 6 for legislators, 4 for senate)

  34. - Nearly Normal - Tuesday, Apr 28, 09 @ 10:10 pm:

    “Except, nowhere but in a certain Tribune column are those current legislative leaders corrupt.”

    Would that be the columnist who harps constantly on the “Combine?”

  35. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, Apr 29, 09 @ 8:24 am:

    Legislative leader term limits, contribution limits, reducing his power on committees… That all is targeted squarely at him.

    A lot of these are very valid suggestions, and potentially vital. But people have to find a way to get him to pass the reforms in a way that doesn’t require him to admit fault.

    Yeah, as I travel around Illinois, that’s all voters are talking about: Voters are DEMANDING we reform the committee process.


    Term limits for legislative leaders but not mayors or governors?


  36. - Arthur Andersen - Wednesday, Apr 29, 09 @ 9:00 am:

    If Collins’ ah, TV, to paraphrase ex-gov Blago, was as large as his ego, he would have had a great chance in the “entertainment” business.

    BTW, Rich, does AA have to chance his blog handle since the original AA is dead?

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