Fumigating politics in Illinois

Politics in Illinois have a reputation, and it's not a good one. Aside from the one-liners and barbs that tend to accompany almost any mention of politics Illinois-style, politicians in the Land of Lincoln are still expected to serve the people of that state. The fact that so many top officials have been associated with corruption hurts all Illinois residents, and that's the real crime.

When Pat Quinn was sworn in as governor following the impeachment of Gov. Rod Blagojevich, he promised to "fumigate" state government. This could involve any number of government purges, and some elected officials say Quinn is taking too long to fulfill his promise.

To keep the faith of the people and to demonstrate a radical change in Illinois politics as usual, House Speaker Michael Madigan is proposing to fire more than 3,000 state appointees who got their jobs while Blagojevich and former governor George Ryan were in office. That's the only way to convince people that real change is in the air, Madigan says.

In addition to being impeached, Blagojevich, a Democrat, faces 16 federal charges alleging he traded government action for political favors. Ryan, a Republican, is in federal prison for political corruption.

The "fumigation" of Illinois politics is a dicey maneuver. For one thing, Speaker Madigan's proposal opens thousands of state jobs that would have to be filled by the current administration. Let's hope there's some way to make sure the new appointments pass the smell test of Illinois politics.