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Today’s controversies: Small and large

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

* Rep. Dan Burke (D-Chicago) is sponsoring a resolution which praises the Good Choices program for teaching values to kids. The resolution also declares that the program is in compliance with a section of the state School Code which requires character education be taught by all public school teachers.

Essentially, the resolution would mean that teachers would be encouraged to use the not-for-profit program. The program is run by Nancy Cartwright, who is the voice of Bart Simpson. But, she’s also a Scientologist and the program is based on L. Ron Hubbard’s book “The Way to Happiness.” That connection to the religion has at least one lawmaker up in arms

Republicans on the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee initially were unaware that Cartwright’s program was influenced by a Hubbard book. Upon learning that, the panel’s ranking Republican voiced concern over the resolution.

“Would we suggest the KKK for something like this?” asked Rep. Jerry Mitchell (R-Sterling), a former school superintendent. “This might be something for a select private school, but I’m not sure it’s germane for a public school.”

* So, what prompted Rep. Burke to run his resolution? Hollywood, baby….

Initial reservations set aside, Burke said he became enthusiastic about backing the resolution because it would be “fun to have Bart Simpson’s voice down there.”

Sometimes, a fun little publicity stunt can backfire. Or partially backfire, as the case may be. Ms. Cartwright will be in Springfield tonight for a reception. We’ll see how it goes.

* On to something more important

Defendants accused of rape, homicide, drug dealing and other serious crimes in five rural Southern Illinois counties have paid thousands of dollars into “anti-crime” funds that benefit or are controlled by local prosecutors in return for probation or dismissal of charges.

Professors at some of the nation’s top law schools say this practice undermines public trust in courts and gives the appearance that defendants with enough money get preferential treatment and can buy their way out of trouble. They say such payments violate a basic ethical principle: Monetary contributions or payments resulting from plea bargains should not in any way benefit or appear to benefit the offices of the prosecutor, the judge or police involved in the prosecution.

“It is clearly unethical and a violation of the Constitution,” said legal ethics expert Monroe H. Freedman, a professor at Hofstra University Law School in Hempstead, N.Y. Like other experts contacted for this story, Freedman cautioned he was not commenting about any specific case.

A Belleville News-Democrat investigation found that payments negotiated by prosecutors and approved by judges ranging from $1,000 to $15,000 resulted in probation or dismissal of felonies in 17 cases in Saline, Pulaski, Franklin, Wayne and Hardin counties.

Ugh.

* Related…

* Losing congressional candidate Dan Seals gets state job: Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn [yesterday] hired Seals as his $121,090-a-year assistant director of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. He starts Tuesday.

* Tollway political hires fired for slacking off, harassment

* Quigley, Kirk want to restore “honest services” provision to law

* Kirk And Quigley’s Ethics Bills Could Clear Constitutional Hurdles, Experts Say

* Editorial: Welcome teamwork on ethics reforms

* Government regulation a fine line to walk

* Illinois No. 2 in dog bite claims

- Posted by Rich Miller        

27 Comments
  1. - Bill - Tuesday, May 10, 11 @ 7:26 am:

    Congratulations to Dan Seals on winning the lotto. Politics is effin golden.


  2. - Shore - Tuesday, May 10, 11 @ 7:39 am:

    121k and a mid level job in springfield is not f’n golden when you have an mba from chicago,a masters from sais and 3 kids to take care of in one of the wealthiest communities in the state when you haven’t had a job for 6 years. the cost of living is much higher up north and the woman he beat got a better paying higher ranking job.


  3. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, May 10, 11 @ 7:54 am:

    ===when you haven’t had a job for 6 years===

    Since he hasn’t had a job in so long, perhaps he already knows how to live on less than 121K a year. Just sayin…


  4. - OneMan - Tuesday, May 10, 11 @ 8:01 am:

    Now if it was Tom Cruse, that might be different.


  5. - Palatine - Tuesday, May 10, 11 @ 8:14 am:

    Rep. Dan Burke (D-Chicago) good choice program is a non starter as far as I’m concerned.


  6. - Cincinnatus - Tuesday, May 10, 11 @ 8:35 am:

    “The program is run by Nancy Cartwright, who is the voice of Bart Simpson.”

    Would we not be better served by Yeardley Smith, the voice of LISA Simpson?


  7. - Cincinnatus - Tuesday, May 10, 11 @ 8:36 am:

    “Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn [yesterday] hired Seals as his $121,090-a-year assistant director of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.”

    Economic Opportunity starts at home…


  8. - Door Ham - Tuesday, May 10, 11 @ 8:46 am:

    I hope that Rep. Burke is able to get this thing passed. It would fit nicely on his legislative accomplishment mantle next to the apology to Mormons and prohibition of primates as pets.


  9. - Plutocrat03 - Tuesday, May 10, 11 @ 8:47 am:

    Thank goodness Dan finally has a job. Otherwise he would have to run for office again.

    PQ, you are becoming the man you used to rail against……


  10. - Bill - Tuesday, May 10, 11 @ 8:51 am:

    ==the cost of living is much higher up north==

    North Springfield?


  11. - Ghost of John Brown - Tuesday, May 10, 11 @ 9:10 am:

    If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it 100 times - we need some grownups in Springfield.

    Rep. Burke has done nothing to change my mind about the need for grownups. REALLY?? You really want to go there Representative?


  12. - wordslinger - Tuesday, May 10, 11 @ 9:23 am:

    The Belleville News-Democrat hits another home run.

    –Defendants accused of rape, homicide, drug dealing and other serious crimes in five rural Southern Illinois counties have paid thousands of dollars into “anti-crime” funds that benefit or are controlled by local prosecutors in return for probation or dismissal of charges. –

    That, my friends, is called a lede. Powerful journalism. I encourage everyone to read the whole story.

    And someone might want to take a stick and poke the U.S. Attorney in the Southern District, because it appears some bad people down there are getting away with murder and more, with the connivance of local authorities, for very small change.


  13. - Ghost of Charlie - Tuesday, May 10, 11 @ 9:24 am:

    Good Choices Programs is nothing more than the Scientology’s “Way to Happiness Foundation” It is specifically defined as a “Scientology-related entity” in the Scientology-IRS closing agreement (which granted Scientology tax exempt status), its parent corp is the Church of Scientology International. Its ultimately delivering Scientology. and providing financing directly to Scientology Inc. by Law it IS NOT SECULAR.


  14. - downstate hack - Tuesday, May 10, 11 @ 10:24 am:

    Rep. Dan Burke (D-Chicago) is sponsoring a resolution which praises the Good Choices program for teaching values to kids. The resolution also declares that the program is in compliance with a section of the state School Code which requires character education be taught by all public school teachers.

    Another mandate for our schools, when all the “Experts” say we are so under funded. Let’s get the State and Feds out of our schools and let locals run them.


  15. - downstate hack - Tuesday, May 10, 11 @ 10:27 am:

    ===121k and a mid level job in springfield is not f’n golden when you have an mba from chicago,a masters from sais and 3 kids to take care of in one of the wealthiest communities in the state when you haven’t had a job for 6 years.===

    I bet it seems f’n golden for the thousands of MBA out of a job throughout Illinois. I bet you could have gotten a thousand very qualified MBA’s to apply for that job at $95,000 a year.


  16. - tired of press - Tuesday, May 10, 11 @ 12:47 pm:

    Great job, Belleville News Democrat, home of the only two investigative reporters in Illinois.

    I was taken by the idea that it has never occurred to these prosecutors how unethical this is. Prosecutorial misconduct is a serious issue in this state and it needs to be excavated. The massive amounts of plea bargaining create a truly pernicious system which threatens defendants with insane penalties and does not help victims get accountability. Prosecutors have so much power, it looks like it was irresistable for them to take a cut too.


  17. - Jake From Elwood - Tuesday, May 10, 11 @ 12:56 pm:

    Troublesome to think about how the “anti-crime” funds are/were parcelled out. Equally troublesome that at least some of the prosecutors thought this was a good idea.
    Wordslinger is right to think that the US Atty will weigh in on this. They almost have to.


  18. - Anonymous - Tuesday, May 10, 11 @ 1:11 pm:

    “…121k and a mid level job in springfield is not f’n golden when you have an mba from chicago,a masters from sais…”

    Well, shore, then according to one the “most highly educated districts in the country,” why would anyone want to serve in public office?


  19. - Dirty Red - Tuesday, May 10, 11 @ 1:14 pm:

    Agreed with @tired of press. I was disappointed the Southern Illinois Editor’s Association didn’t recognize what a gem that paper is a couple weeks ago when it was handing out awards. Best newspaper went to The Southern. What a crock.


  20. - Mana Nui - Tuesday, May 10, 11 @ 1:45 pm:

    Getting a morals program going seems like a real good idea. Take a look around you, we need to wake up and smell the coffee, we have a morals meltdown going. So I am fully supportive of this.


  21. - Way Way Down Here - Tuesday, May 10, 11 @ 1:45 pm:

    As someone new to the area once remarked, “Doesn’t anyone ever get convicted around here?” Thanks to the News Democrat more people now know why the answer is “That depends.” Good work.


  22. - wordslinger - Tuesday, May 10, 11 @ 1:48 pm:

    –Getting a morals program going seems like a real good idea. Take a look around you, we need to wake up and smell the coffee, we have a morals meltdown going. So I am fully supportive of this.–

    And who better to lead the “morals” crusade than L. Ron Hubbard and the General Assembly.


  23. - wordslinger - Tuesday, May 10, 11 @ 1:49 pm:

    … and Bart Simpson, lol.


  24. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, May 10, 11 @ 2:55 pm:

    ===Let’s get the State and Feds out of our schools and let locals run them. ===

    Yeah, OK, because that worked so well in the 19th Century.


  25. - hisgirlfriday - Tuesday, May 10, 11 @ 3:02 pm:

    I am appalled by Dan Burke thinking $cientology doctrine has any place in our schools. This bill is wayyyyy worse than when Jim Edgar declared L. Ron Hubbard Day in the early ’90s, IMO.

    At least a declaration can be mostly ignored and doesn’t put any tax dollars in the $cientology coffers, but our children are vulnerable and do not deserve to be put at the mercy of a money-grubbing cult under FBI investigation for human trafficking and using some cult members as slave labor. Is this the kind of folks who should be teaching morals to our children?

    http://www.theatlanticwire.com/national/2011/02/scientology-slave-labor-beatings-and-an-fbi-investigation/21198/

    Dan Burke may be excited about all the campaign cash coming his way from $cientology freaks in Hollywood for this, but taxpayers shouldn’t be.


  26. - Secret Square - Tuesday, May 10, 11 @ 3:49 pm:

    Apparently our GA members are “underachievers and proud of it”.


  27. - ObjectiveReporting - Wednesday, May 11, 11 @ 1:42 am:

    “Rep. Dan Burke (D-Chicago) is sponsoring a resolution which praises the Good Choices program, a Scientology front group that seeks to indoctrinate children into Scientology, for teaching values to kids.

    There, fixed it.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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