• Greg Hinz On Politics
  • Greg Hinz On Politics

    The new Senate president's shrewd ethics move

    Announcing he'll leave his law firm to focus full time on his new leadership post, Don Harmon sets an example worth following. Speaker Madigan, are you listening?

    Illinois Senate President Don Harmon, D-Oak Park
    Illinois Senate Democratic Caucus

    Sen. Don Harmon


    79彩票注册网址For as far back as any of us care to remember, politics in this town has been a business, metaphorically and literally. Grab yourself a nice leadership job and—shazam!—that insurance or law business you or your close associates ran all of a sudden had to beat back would-be clients, folks in search of a nice two-fer.

    79彩票注册网址It isn’t necessarily illegal. But it surely gets quite close to it.  

    79彩票注册网址I remember hearing a first-hand story a couple decades ago about how a new restaurant’s loading zone mysteriously appeared and then disappeared until the owner bought his liability insurance from the right agency. Even when it wasn’t quite that crude, it sent the message far and wide that public service first and foremost is about serving yourself first.

    That's what is so utterly refreshing about the move newly installed Illinois Senate President Don Harmon announced last evening. In case you missed the news—I’m sure you were occupied watching the Senate trial of one Donald J. Trump—Harmon revealed he’ll be leaving his second job as a to focus full time on his Senate post. (Note the Burke in the firm name is not embattled Ald. Ed Burke.)

    “I love practicing law,”  “But I recognize that being Senate president is going to consume almost all of my time…I’ve recognized that I just don’t have the time capacity to be a good senate president and to practice law the way I practiced it.”

    He’s in the process of negotiating terms of his departure from the firm.

    My, my.

    79彩票注册网址Now, it’s fair to ask whether Harmon was just trying to be proactive, recognizing that federal agents are crawling all over Springfield looking for corrupt officials to indict. Indeed, in the interview, WTTW's Amanda Vinicky noted that Burke Burns has some government clients, including state units, that arguably will present a conflict of interest.

    Still, wouldn’t you have loved to have seen the face of prominent property tax appeals lawyer Michael Madigan when the House speaker heard of Harmon’s declaration? Or that of two other property tax lawyers: 14th Ward Ald. Burke, recently dethroned as chairman of the powerful City Council Committee on Finance, and former Senate President John Cullerton, whom Harmon succeeded.

    Harmon has sensed the change in the political winds in a way none of them have. Give the man credit for political smarts.

    I’m tempted to go a little further, though, because Harmon’s move is not without political risk from others in Springfield.

    Yet, in the end,  he did the right thing. He set the right example, was willing to pay a price for good ethical conduct, even if he wrapped it in time considerations. He’s addressing a part of the huge culture of corruption in Springfield that’s his biggest challenge, as I wrote the other day.

    79彩票注册网址Good for him.  

    79彩票注册网址Are you listening, Mr. Speaker?

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