REMOVING HEALTH FACILITIES PLANNING BOARD OFFICIALS
On May 1, I called for the removal of Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board officials and Board members, as the first steps toward restoring integrity to the process used to site hospitals and other healthcare facilities throughout Illinois.
In the months since Rod Blagojevich has been impeached and removed from office, state leaders have thrown open the doors and windows, and are taking a hard look at the way government works. We need to distance ourselves from that era of corruption and controversy.
I am sponsoring legislation to remove the Deputy Director of the Office of Policy, Planning and Statistics of the Illinois Department of Public Health; and the Executive Secretary of the Health Facilities Planning Board, effective July 1, 2009. The legislation also calls for the immediate termination of the Board members, but allows them to serve until they are replaced by the Governor, up to an additional 60 days.
While neither the officials nor the current board members have been accused of wrongdoing, they are associated with the scandals connected to former Governor Blagojevich.
TOUGHER GOVERNMENT WHISTLEBLOWER STANDARDS
State employees are our front-line defense in the fight to restore integrity to state government in Illinois. As such, I introduced legislation May 6 that sets tougher whistleblower standards for state government.
Senate Bill 2231 requires any public officer or public employee to report the suspected official misconduct of a state employee or a member of a board or commission to the appropriate State’s Attorney or to the Illinois State Police. The penalty for failure to report is a Class A misdemeanor, which is the same penalty as failure to report a bribe.
We are asking state employees to contact the appropriate authorities when they see illegal activity. And I want to make this clear – just reporting the violation to an ethics officer is not enough. It needs to be reported to the State’s Attorney or to the State Police.
Such legislation might have helped address situations like the scandal surrounding the IHFPB. I testified May 5 at the Joint Committee on Ethics meeting about the IHFPB, and am sponsoring legislation that would terminate IHFPB officials.
CONTINUING TO PUSH TO CLEAN UP GOVERNMENT
My call for cleaning up state government seems to be finally gaining traction among state leaders.
On May 7, House Speaker Michael Madigan announced he is sponsoring legislation that would purge appointees to state agencies, executive boards and commissions made by former Governors Rod Blagojevich and George Ryan.
I have been calling for similar action specifically regarding the scandal-tainted Health Facilities Planning Board, and will sponsor Madigan’s House Bill 4450 when it comes to the Senate.
I am pleased to see what we did last Friday – again calling for the removal of Health Facilities Planning Board officials – resulted in Speaker Madigan having a hearing on the issue this week. He has embraced the concept that we need to clean house in Illinois.
House Bill 4450 would terminate the heads, assistant heads, and deputy heads of executive State agencies who were nominated by the Governor between January 11, 1999, and January 29, 2009.
We are giving Governor Quinn the opportunity to appoint a fresh set of individuals who have the skills and talents to take leadership roles on these boards and commission. And if he chooses, the Governor can vet and decide to reappoint some of the members. But this legislation requires everyone to be reevaluated, to help remove the cloud of corruption – actual or perceived – that hangs over our state. We owe the people of Illinois no less.
Kudos to the central Illinois individuals and groups that come to the State Capitol and talk with me and other state officials about the issues important to you!
On May 6, I met with a group of Illinois Education Association (IEA) members from Bloomington. The group was in Springfield to talk with me and my fellow lawmakers in the 44th District as part of activities for IEA Lobby Day.