End stall tactics on ethics reform
Just in the past year, four Illinois legislators have either been indicted or charged for crimes ranging from bribery to ghost payrolling and federal tax evasion. Additionally, arguably the most powerful individual in the state legislature, Speaker Madigan, is involved in an ongoing federal investigation into possibly the largest bribery scheme in state government history, yet Democrats continue to stall on addressing ethics reform measures.
The need for ethics reform in Illinois isn't a new idea. In fact, in the 101st General Assembly alone, our caucus has filed eight bills targeting corruption -- the Democratic leadership has refused to consider any of them.
Additionally, the Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform, tasked with developing a legislative package to address ethics issues, hasn't met since March 5 despite our continued calls to resume meetings.
The stall tactics being played by Democrats are exactly what we feared months ago during the 2019 Fall Veto Session, when they decided to create this commission rather than take up real reform measures. Senate Republicans made a strong push for ethics reform but left Springfield with only the creation of this commission as a result. Democrats used its formation as a stall tactic back then, and now, they continue the same strategy -- kicking the can down the road and delaying any sort of progress.
There is no reason why we continue to delay the people's work on this issue, especially as several other committees and commissions have been meeting for months. This commission can meet and can do so now. Given the current climate of corruption, the public deserves no less.
Sen. Dan McConchie, Hawthorn Woods
Sen. John Curran, Downers Grove
Yes, census is used to suppress Black votes
In reference to Dan Sokolski's letter suggesting Black voters are not mistreated or suppressed, it's evident he is out of touch with how difficult it has been for Illinois to complete a full and accurate census count. "I fail to see how census tampering, if it exists, can have any effect on voting," he wrote. Well, let me explain it.
First, there was an attempt to include a citizenship question on the census, which could have erased hard-to-count people, including many Black residents. Although the question did not make it on the 2020 census, the fear mongering it created did significant damage and has made it extraordinarily difficult to get a full count, particularly in hard-to-count Black neighborhoods. Then, by cutting census operations short by a month during a pandemic, the administration again tampered with the census, risking billions of dollars in federal aid so desperately needed in Illinois.
The census collects fundamental data on voting and registration by race. If Black people are discouraged from completing the census, then that, in turn, can be used to drive down the numbers of polling places in Black neighborhoods, leading to voter suppression. You see, it's an issue.
Lastly, during this year's primary election, the Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights, which does election protection work, reported many last-minute polling location changes or closures as well as supply and equipment shortages, which kept some Black and other disenfranchised residents from voting in some instances.
Mr. Sokolowski, you don't have to wait for "someday or someone" to provide you with reasons why there are real and continuous attempts to suppress the Black vote. It's been happening since the Jim Crow era and continues to this day, even when people choose to be blind to it.
Liliana Scales, Just Democracy Illinois Coalition Member