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By Gus Bode

The group charged with examining one of the nation’s most notoriously unethical state governments will holds its final meeting today in Morris Library before releasing its recommendations next week.

In what commission Chairman Patrick Collins billed a ‘perfect storm of problems,’ the group will meet to discuss a series of recommendations for cleaning up a state Legislature that many have deemed corrupt.

‘A lot of people have said the (Illinois) government is corrupt and I certainly believe that,’ said Collins, a former assistant U.S. Attorney. ‘That doesn’t mean that everybody is corrupt; it just means that there is a problem.’


The commission was formed by an executive order by Gov. Pat Quinn on Jan. 30 to examine government practices and ethics. Collins said the commission plans to release its final recommendations Tuesday.

Today’s meeting will be held in Morris Library’s auditorium from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and is open to the public.

Sheila Simon, a professor in the School of Law and member of the commission, said the group has focused on six categories of recommendations in its draft it released on March 31. It includes campaign finance reform, procurement procedures, legislative transparency, government structure and inspiring better government.

For example, Simon said the commission has discussed transparency issues such as the way the government handles Freedom of Information requests. She said making public records easily accessible and attainable is among the group’s top concerns.

‘In the area of transparency, we are recommending turning the attitude about information and access on its head,’ she said.

John Jackson, a visiting professor with the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, said the institute has lobbied for new redistricting procedures, which its says are not neutral enough.

But whether or not the commission’s recommendations are heard by the Legislature is still a concern, Jackson said.


The majority of public opinion is in favor of change and reform in ethics, Jackson said, but whether that pressure sways lawmakers to pass legislation is another question.

‘It’s always the case that incumbents have prospered under the current system and are reluctant to change the rules of the game,’ he said.

Simon said many of the recommendations the commission is set to announce should make many lawmakers uncomfortable.

‘We are trying to change the system that elected people there now and that will not even be the first thing on heir minds,’ she said.

Because the commission was set up at about the same time former governor Rod Blagojevich was met with corruption charges, it has a unique opportunity, Simon said.

‘(Blagojevich) really did the state a favor by keeping himself in the news,’ Simon said.’Thanks to the severity of allegations against Blagojevich and others, we have an opportunity to make some significant changes.’If we don’t make them, we are asking for the same type of things to happen all over again.’