Irony in Chicago politics

Holly New

The last thing Illinois politics are known for are “ethical standards.”

That, however, is the reason Gov. Pat Quinn decided to veto a gambling bill that “would have added casinos in Chicago, Lake County, Rockford, Danville and the south suburbs, as well as allowed slot machines at race tracks, the Chicago airports and the state fairgrounds,” according to Edward McClelland of NBC Chicago.

In his veto letter, Quinn stated the bill’s “most glaring deficiency is the total absence of comprehensive ethical standards and regulatory oversight.”

You’ve got to be kidding me.

Let’s just say Illinois hasn’t cared much about ethics before. Illinois has a horrendous track record of bad politicians and corruption in government: Rod Blagojevich became the first Illinois governor to be impeached after facing accusations of trying to sell President Barack Obama’s senate seat; US Rep. Mel Reynolds was convicted of misconduct with a 16-year-old campaign volunteer, and was later convicted on federal wire and bank fraud charges; Governor Otto Kerner (1961-1968) was convicted of bribery related to his tenure. These are only a few examples of immorality in the long history of misconduct in Illinois.

I hate to say it, but Illinois and corruption have become synonymous. We’ve become a state known for putting criminals in charge.

However, going on about Illinois’ corruption is like beating a dead horse—it won’t do any good. But as Robert Grant, head of the FBI’s Chicago office, said during the arrest of Blagojevich, “If [Illinois] isn’t the most corrupt state in the United States…it is certainly one hell of a competitor,” according to Shane Tritsch of ChicagoMag.com.

We citizens of Illinois cannot ignore the irony of our governor–of the potentially most corrupt state in the history of this country–citing a lack of ethical standards as a reason to veto a gambling bill. While it is uncertain if the casinos could actually help the economy, the point remains the same.

Now we must stop and ask ourselves: Is Quinn trying to fix Illinois, or are ethical standards just an excuse? I’m not confident in the idea of a “clean” Illinois. I think corruption will always have its place. It will be hard to wipe a hundred years of “tradition” with one governor. So do we trust that Quinn is really trying to fix up politics and instill a level of ethical standards to practice governing by, or do we search for some larger agenda Quinn might have in keeping casinos out?

The most important thing we can do now is keep our eyes and ears open. We’ve been led astray before. The only thing we can do is try to not let it happen again.