Harmon and corruption

Opinion

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Print

By Editorial

After the cheering dies out, and that won't take long, Oak Park will be left to proclaim that once again the president of the Illinois state Senate is a son of the village. Following the path of Phil Rock, his neighbor and mentor, Sen. Don Harmon won that battle Sunday after a contentious day in Springfield. Harmon won the important post over Sen. Kimberly Lightford, a Maywoodian who represents Oak Park south of the Ike. 

Both good people, smart leaders. Remarkable that the race for what is usually a once-in-a-generation opportunity came down to two very local people. 

But our bragging rights for Harmon won't be worth much unless the senator genuinely recognizes and aggressively embraces the need to excise the profound corruption that permeates political life in Illinois. The brand is rotten at the core. The culture of Springfield is a cancer of self-interest and self-dealing. This is the reality of the decades that is only beaten back a bit by perpetual federal investigations, which toss a new generation into the clink.

We are in another moment right now with investigations and resignations and, almost certainly indictments and trials. It is a small comfort to know that some of the corrupt pols will pay a price.

Forget about pensions overwhelming taxpayers. Forget about the property tax burden funding an inequitable education system. Forget about declining population and the coming census. At root, Illinoisans are ashamed of their political system. Too many out-and-out crooks actively game a greased system.

In a press conference after his victory Sunday, Harmon said restoring public trust was one of his two top goals as Senate president. Restoring that trust won't come from tinkering around the edges of ethics reforms. It must start with a frank admission that the political system our politicians have foisted on us is built for them, not for us.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker gets high marks from us, so far at least, for a determined intolerance of corruption, of anything that implies self-dealing. Don Harmon has a limited window and a tremendous opportunity to follow that lead and to call out every single instance of stink. Harmon and Pritzker can team up for what is right. And then we will wait impatiently for Mike Madigan to fall. 

It is a credit to Senator Harmon that he has risen to a post he has long sought. Now that he has this power, there is no room for allowances, for excuses, for favors or second chances. Root out corruption. All good flows from that start.

Love the Journal?

Become our partner in independent community journalism

Thanks for turning to Wednesday Journal and OakPark.com. We love our thousands of digital-only readers. Now though we're asking you to partner up in paying for our reporters and photographers who report this news. It had to happen, right?

On the plus side, we're giving you a simple way, and a better reason, to join in. We're now a non-profit -- Growing Community Media -- so your donation is tax deductible. And signing up for a monthly donation, or making a one-time donation, is fast and easy.

No threats from us. The news will be here. No paywalls or article countdowns. We're counting on an exquisite mix of civic enlightenment and mild shaming. Sort of like public radio.

Claim your bragging rights. Become a digital member.

Donate Now

Reader Comments

No Comments - Add Your Comment

Note: This page requires you to login with Facebook to comment.

Comment Policy

Facebook Connect

Answer Book 2019

To view the full print edition of the Wednesday Journal 2019 Answer Book, please click here.

Quick Links

Sign-up to get the latest news updates for Oak Park and River Forest.


            
SubscribeClassified
MultimediaContact us
Submit Letter To The Editor
Place a Classified Ad

Classified Ad