Gordon: 'Good policy is good government'

DeWayne Bartels
State Rep. Jehan Gordon (D-92nd District) listens during a legislative gathering last night at the Par-A-Dice hosted by the Greater Peoria Area chamber of Commerce.

State Rep. Jehan Gordon (D-92nd District) says she is not going to let party interests get in the way of her drive to beef up ethics reform in Illinois.

“The public’s trust has been shattered by the misdeeds of Rod Blagojevich and his cronies, and we should shine a light on unethical behavior, not hide it in darkness,” Gordon said yesterday.

“If someone has engaged in behavior that is in violation of the state’s ethics laws, then the state’s taxpayers who are footing their salary should know about it. The people need an honest and open government ...”

Light of day

To provide that openness Gordon is sponsoring House Bill 553. The bill says if an investigation by the state’s executive inspector general finds an ethics violation has occurred, a copy of the report with redacted personal information will be made available to the public.

The legislation, Gordon said, is pending a hearing in the Joint Committee on Government Reform, a new committee created to deal with ethics in government. This legislation follows Gordon’s support for legislation to deny pension payments to any elected official who is removed from office.

Gordon, last night at a legislator gathering at the Par-A-Dice, sponsored by the Greater Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce, said while talking to constituents in her district she has been struck by the level of anger at state officials. she said the anger is especially aimed at Balgojevich and U.S. Sen.Roland Burris, now caught up in allegations of possible perjury connected to his appointment to fill President Barack Obama’s senate seat.  

“People are losing their jobs or worried about losing their jobs and watching public officials on the public payroll looking out only for themselves,” Gordon said. “I’m disgusted and my constituents are disgusted. This is an idea created out of comments from my constituents.”

Gordon said if there has ever been a time for this type of ethics reform it is now. 

“Those opposing this type of effort will have to explain to their constituents why they didn’t support it,” she said. “We need to get ahead of the curve on this.”

Gordon said the effort to get such legislation may not be easy. But, Gordon said she will pursue it regardless.

“Good policy is good politics,” she said.

Seeking support

Gordon said she has been in Springfield about three weeks and has been surprised by the level of partisan politics in the Illinois General Assembly.

But, she said, she harbors hope she will find bipartisan support for her bill from Greater Peoria Area legislators. 

She may find it.

State Sen. Dave Koehler (D- 46th District)) and State Sen. Dale Risinger (R-37th District) said they would be happy to look at the legislation if it makes it into their chamber.

“I’ll take a look at it,” Koehler said. “It looks like something I’d be interested in.”

Risinger expressed even more enthusiasm about the proposed legislation.

“We need the openness a bill like this would bring. As a public official we shouldn’t be hiding anything,” Risinger said.

“If that bill comes to the Senate I’ll support it. That’s not a Democrat or Republican issue. That’s just good legislation.”

Restoring faith 

Gordon said she hopes a side effect of this bill will be a beginning of restoration of public faith in Illinois politicians.

“Who knows how long that will take?” Gordon said.

“Just because Blagojevich and Burris dominate the headlines that is not what all Illinois politicians are like. We have to work hard to get that message out.”

Gordon said the state did not earn a reputation as a haven for political corruption overnight, and that dispelling it would not occur quickly.  

“But,” she said, “this is a time when dramatic things can happen. The pendulum will swing back toward our politicians doing the right thing.”

Another step toward restoring public faith, Gordon said, is a special election to fill the U.S Senate seat now held by Burris. Gordon said she opposed Burris’ appointment from the beginning calling the process that seated him tainted by race.

Gordon, last week, called on Burris to resign.

“We need a special election,” Gordon said. “It would be expensive, but you can’t put a price on voter trust.”