Guest Column: Voters urged to consider major reforms in 2008

Illinois citizens will have a rare opportunity to launch major reforms in all levels of Illinois government at the general election in November, 2008 and an informational web site,, has been launched to help citizens capitalize on the opportunity.

At that election, Illinois voters will be asked whether they wish to convene a State Constitutional Convention—called Con-Con—to address issues that have surfaced in the nearly 40 years since the 1970 State Constitution was approved. There will not be another mandated referendum opportunity until 2028 for a Con-Con in 2030. cites mounting state crises: “Since the current Illinois Constitution was passed about four decades ago, the state and many Illinois cities have declined. The state totters near bankruptcy; Illinois is compared with New Jersey as one of the most politically corrupt states in the nation; more than half the citizens polled before the last election didn’t want either of the major parties’ candidates for governor; political pandering is ubiquitous and major issues are ignored.

“Changing politicians ultimately changes nothing. It’s a political axiom that elected Democrats and elected Republicans have more in common with each other than they do with the citizens who elect them. With rare exceptions, a politician is a politician, and expecting politicians to change is like expecting wolves to become vegetarians.” poses three central questions for voters to consider:

“1. Do the citizens of Illinois deserve to have the same rights as the citizens of other states in directing and controlling their state and local governments?

“2. Do the citizens of Illinois deserve to have the same rights as the citizens of other states in protecting their liberty, livelihoods, and property from encroachment?

“3. Do the citizens of Illinois deserve 20 more years of today’s political climate?” cites more than 14 issues with commentaries to initiate citizen discussions, including, but not limited to:

1. Citizen power to recall corrupt and incompetent office holders in mid-term, a right citizens of other states exercise;

2. Elimination of legislative district gerrymandering;

3. Mandating majority funding of education at the state level;

4. Curbing inimical political careerism;

5. Restructuring state government;

6. Imposing term limits;

7. Instituting citizen initiative, the right for citizens to propose laws by petition, a right citizens of other states exercise;

8. Allowing home rule communities to control local governments with charters or local constitutions, a right citizens of other states exercise;

9. Replacing property taxes and state income taxes with a revenue neutral personal consumption tax, like the one now before Congress;

10. Ending discrimination against independent candidates for office;

11. Requiring the state to fund all programs the state mandates for local governments and school districts;

12. Safeguarding public assets from sale to private interests;

13. Protecting private property from eminent domain confiscation to give to another private party or enterprise;

14. Privacy and other issues emanating from developing technology and practices of corporations doing business in Illinois.

Additional Illinois issues and considerations are provided through continual updates, and includes educational aids and speaker contact information for citizens’ groups. The site is designed to encourage early discussion of the 2008 referendum because citizens need time to focus, discuss, organize, educate and motivate others.

John Gile is a journalist, author and Rockford resident.

From the Dec. 13-19, 2006, issue

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!