* 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.
* 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