By Fanna Haile-Selassie, Andy Shofstall
“Well this report, I don’t think comes as any big surprise to anybody. We all sort of knew in Illinois, things were bad. It turns out they’re worse here than just about any place else,” says David Yepsen, Director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.
“I would agree with that, doesn’t surprise me at all,” says Lena resident Steve Myers.
“I agree. It has been since the ’30’s,” says Richard Russell from Marion.
Illinois, as a whole, doesn’t fare much better; it’s ranked the third most corrupted state in the U.S., just behind California and New York. On average, the state has convicted about 51 officials every year for Federal corruption charges.
“I think if you included some state data in there, it could make Illinois look even worse,” says Yepsen. “Look, Illinois has a cultural problem. There’s something here; there’s something in the water. And I think it’s important for policy makers and reformers to start saying what is this, what’s causing this.”
“Look at what’s happened in the past, look at our history; our mayors, our governors. We have a bad reputation with the rest of the country,” says Myers.
Representative John Bradley says there has been some real effort to stop the state’s culture of corruption and not every public official is out for him or herself.
“There’s still good people in government, and obviously there were people that removed the last two governors from office, and some of those people are still around. So we’re going to keep fighting and we’re going to keep trying to do the right thing,” says Bradley.
Governor Pat Quinn recently announced a proposal to extend ethic reform in Illinois. The Lincoln amendment would allow citizens the power to recall elected officials and vote for stronger ethic laws.