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March 12, 2014     The Sun Newspaper
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March 12, 2014

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014 Trenton Sun Page 5 - Opinion lt00inos00? An Illinois In a new statewide survey, Illinoisans said it loud and clear: 73% of them read an Illinois newspaper each week. Our survey said that newspaper advertising reaches customers at the best possible moment. When they are ready to buy, newspaper readers choose newpapers over radio by a 7-to-1 margin. They choose newspapers over TV and direct mail by 3-to-1. That is the power of newspaper advertising? So if you're looking for customers, we know a place where your customers are looking for you -- in Illinois' many excellent newspapers. Soue: Illinois Statewide Survey 2011 Illinois Press Association  %:, Yousaidi00 Ill'moisl NgTHING RKS UKE NliiMSPAPER AIIi/ERTISING. To be honest Doc, this is gonna be one hard pill to swallow... Illinois business owners Actually it's a suppository... Where Congress falls sno00t By: Lee H. Hamilton At a lublic gathering the other day, someone asked me how I'd sum up my views on Congres s. It was a good question, because it forced me to step back from worry- ing about the current politics of Capitol Hill and take a longer view. Congress, I said, does some things fairly well. Its members for the most part want to serve their constitu- ents and the country. They may be ambitious it's hard to be a successful politician if you're not -- but they're not motivated primarily by personal interest. Most are people of integrity who have chosen to try to advance the national interest and are willing to work within our agitated political environ- ment. They also strive to reflect their constituents' views. They're not always successful at this -- I think members of Congress tend to under-ap- preciate voters' pragmatism and over-estimate their ideo- logical purity. Still, they're politicians: their success rests on being accessible to their constituents, under- standing what they want, and aligning themselves with that interest. For all the attractive in- dividual qualities that mem- bers of Congress display, however, their institutional performance falls short. Tal- ented though they are, the institution they serve does not work very well. They argue endlessly, pander to contributor, and powerful interests, )osture both in the media and in countless public meetings, and in the end produce very little. They discuss and debate a lot of problems, but don't create effective results. This may be because many members of our national leg- islature have a constricted view of what it means to be a legislator. They're satis- fied with making a political statement by giving a speech, casting a vote, or getting a bill through the chamber they serve in, rather than writing legislation that will make it through both houses of Congress, get signed by the President, and become a law. Their aim seems to be partisan and ideological, rather than a constructive effort to solve the nation's problems. Similarly, they undermine their ability to oversee the executive branch by conduct- ing hearings for political gain rather than to scrutinize gov- ernment activities or develop effective policy directives. Many of our representa- tives have become so reliant on their staff for knowledge about public policy and the details of federal agencies that in off-the-cuff debate they can be untethered and ... and where it doesn't misinformed. Small wonder that Congress has had trou- ble being productive. The days appear to be over when members of Congress strove to be masters of their subject matter and legislators in fact as well as in name. Forced to spend so much time raising money and lis- tening to well-heeled people and groups, they also seem to have trouble seeing cur- rent affairs from the perspec- tive of ordinary people. They fall captive to the politics of any given issue, rather than thinking about the much harder question of how you govern a country with all its residents in mind. They don't see the necessity, in a divided Congress and a di- vided country, of negotiation and compromise. Congressional tradition has created a legislative process that should encour- age fact-finding, searching for remedies, and finding common ground. It should not work solely by majority rule; decisions spring from consultation with many voices, balancing minor- ity and majority views, and fair-minded process. This is not what today's members of Congress do, however. In- stead, they short-circuit the committee process; fail to do their homework; dwell on talking points put together by staff and others; give too much power to their leaders; pay too little attention TO de- liberation; allow insafficient opportunity TO debate and vote on major policy amend- ments; and in general make a mess of the budget -- the basic operating instructions for the government. Process may not be ev- erything, but good process enhances the chance of get- ting things right -- and with each passing year, Congress forgets more and more about what good Wocess looks like. Plenty of forces are re- sponsible for this state of af- fairs, from the outsized role of money in the political pro- cess to today's hyper-parti- sanship to TV-driven sound- bite debates. But in the end, it's still a source of great frustration to the American people, me included, that well-meaning, talented indi- viduals cannot make the in- stitution work better. Lee Hamilton is Director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years. 00ITE A LETTERTO THE EDITOR! All letters must be sigrd, with consent to publish the writer's name with the letter. Send to or PO Box 118 Trenton, IL 62293  Dear Editor, I would like to publicly express my gratitude for the coaches/volunteers of this year's Little Dribbler's program. A huge thank you to Terry Brinkman, Chris Brinkman, Doug Mueller, Chris Brefeld, and Brian Haar. It was a great program; these gentlemen were everything that a child could want in a coach-extremely pa- tient and made learning the game fun. I am sure that they have inspired a love of the game in these kids. Thank you. Jamie Brown 'There was no money al- located at all before the elec- tion of 2010," Gov. Pat Quinn told Chicago TV reporter Charles Thomas about al- legations that the governor had spent millions in state anti-violence grants to boost his flagging election cam- paign. Quinn used his to de- fend himself against growing criticism about a devastating" state audit of the anti-vio- lence grants. But what the governor said in his own defense was not true. According to Illinois Au- ditor General Bill Holland, Quinn's administration signed contracts with 23 lo- cal groups on October 15th, about three weeks before 2010's election day. Each of the groups, hand-picked by Chicago aldermen, were promised about $300,000 for a total of around $7 million. 'That is allocating mon- ey," Auditor General Holland emphatically said last week about the awarding of those state contracts. A Quinn spokesman coun- tered that the governor ac- tually meant to say that no money was distributed to the groups prior to election day. But the groups' lead- ers, many with political ties, had signed state contracts in their hands. They knew that bigtime state money was on the way soon. As you probably already know, Holland's audit un- covered massive problems with the grants, finding "per- vasive deficiencies" in the "planrdng, implementation, and management" of the grants doled out via the Gov- ernor's Neighborhood Recov- 2014 --- ILLINOIS PRES ASSO C [ATION Member of the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors PHONE (618) 224-9422 FAX (618) 224-2646 email: Michael L. Conley, Editor 8 Publisher THE TRENTON SUN is published weekly by Michael L. and L. Sybil Conley 15 West Broadway, Trenton, IL 62293 Subscriptions paid in advance: $21 per year, $35 per year outside Clinton County $40 per year outside the U.S. Newsstand copies 50 ESTABLISHED IN 1880 ENTERED AT THE TRENTON, IL POST OFFICE AS A PERIODICAL (USPS 638-200) Postmaster: Send address changes t0 The Trenton Sun, P.O. Box 118, Trenton, IZ fl2293 ery Initiative. The program was "nastily implemented," expenses were not adequate- ly monitored, and a third of Chicago's "most violent Chi- cago communities" weren't included in the program. The governor met with a group of ministers in the Roseland community in Au- gust of 2010. Black ministers have long held a strong po- sition of power in Chicago's African-American political culture, so Quinn was un- doubtedly eager to placate them ahead of election day. Five days after the meet- ing, the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority was informed by the governor's office that Quinn wanted to establish a $20 million crime reduction program. Less than two months aider the initial meeting, the governor upped the grant program to $50 million for Chicago communities alone. Chicago aldermen were asked to sub- mit lists of groups that would receive the money and that list alone was used to solicit Requests for Proposals from the groups. Contracts were signed on October 15. The audit's language is without a doubt the harshest since Rod Blagojevich was governor. Some Republicans asked the Auditor General last week TO forward his findings to the US Attorney. One of the items pointed to by the Republicans is a passage from the Illinois Vio- RICH MILLER lence Prevention Authority's September 30, 2010 board minutes, when an official from the governor's office told the board that '%he Gover- nor's Qffice is committed to allocating some of the funds for this Initiative immediate- ly and will allocate the rest after the election." That quote, the Repub- licans say, is proof that the election was an issue with the program. He was, some of them say, trying TO '%My" the 2010 election. But that's not really my read. Back when Jim Edgar was Secretary of State, he over- saw a literacy grant program. Not coincidentally, lots of African-American churches with schools received grants from Edgar. The plan was simple and well thought out: Use state money to carefully buy influence with an impor- tant constituency. But the creation of Quinn's anti-violence initiative was completely reactive. Quinn was under enormous pres- sure from leaders of explod- ing neighborhoods to act fast. The idea here appeared to be to throw something- any- thing- together as quickly as he could to get the angry ministers and neighborhood leaders off his back. Allow- ing aldermen to pick the lo- cal agencies further ensured that the squeakiest wheels would be greased. What Quinn purchased wasn't votes, it was peace with a powerful and impor- tant constituency. It got him out of the headlines. He was no longer part of the prob- lem. There are those who say politics and governing must be completely separated, but that just can't happen in a democratic republic. How many of the legisla- tors carelessly talking TO the press about impeachment in this case have introduced bills or voted for or against legislation to the benefit of a powerful local constituency? All of them. There's no doubt, however, that this grant program went far beyond normally accept- ed practices, to the point of throwing them out. But the really serious legal problems will likely be found in the middle and the bottom - per- haps some of the aldermen who recommended the agen- cies and any of the connected folks who got the grants.