Comptroller Dan Hynes and Illinois Issues Magazine editor named recipients of 2007 Paul Simon Public Service Awards
CHICAGO -- The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform (ICPR) announced Monday that the 2007 Paul Simon Public Service Awards will be presented to Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes and to Peggy Boyer Long, executive editor of Illinois Issues magazine.
The awards will be presented at a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the founding of ICPR by the late Sen. Simon. The event will begin at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 7, at the McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum, 455 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago.
Hynes, now in his third term as State Comptroller, will be recognized for his leadership in the effort to enact legislation to limit opportunities for pay-to-play in state contracting, to reform state laws regulating lobbyists and to create a public financing system for elections to the state's highest courts. In addition, Hynes issued an executive order prohibiting contractors with his office from contributing to his campaign fund.
"Because he knows how important it is that the public be able to trust its elected leaders and because he understands that the appearance of impropriety is very damaging to our political system, Comptroller Hynes has been willing to go the extra mile for reforms of Illinois election campaigns and the operation of state government," said Cynthia Canary, Director of ICPR. "We are pleased to be able to recognize his commitment to the cause."
Long, a veteran broadcast and print journalist, will be recognized for her many contributions to the public's understanding of the operation of state government and the issues debated in the General Assembly. During her 13 years of leadership at Illinois Issues, the magazine has provided in-depth coverage of the State Capitol and has been a reliable source of information about the impact of legislation on all areas of the state. From 1975 to 1978 and from 1989 to 1991, she was State Capitol bureau chief for public radio in Springfield. At the end of the year, Long will retire from her positions as executive editor of the magazine and as director of Center Publications, Center for State Policy and Leadership at the University of Illinois at Springfield.
"Because Illinois seems to be fertile ground for scandals and scoundrels, the political beat here is a dream job for many journalists," Canary said. "For more than three decades, Peggy Boyer Long has provided insightful reporting and commentary on the political and policy debates at the State Capitol and has been a mentor to many aspiring reporters. Because Paul Simon had a hand in the founding of Illinois Issues more than 30 years ago, it is fitting that this award in his name is going to the person whose hard work in the face of lean budgets and upheaval in the magazine industry has maintained the magazine's high quality."
This is the third year that ICPR has presented the Paul Simon Public Service Awards. The first awards in 2005 were presented to two close associates of former Sen. Simon -- former Comptroller Dawn Clark Netsch and former congressman and federal appeals court judge Abner Mikva.
The 2006 awards were presented to Mike Lawrence, who is Director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University; Newton Minow, a partner at Sidley and Austin and former Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission; and to the editorial board of The Peoria Journal Star.
"During his years on Capitol Hill and in Springfield, Paul Simon was always at the forefront of government and political reform efforts," said Canary. "Clearly, he saw the need for reform, but he also understood the need to educate voters and provide the research to back up the call for reform. That led to his decision in 1997 to create ICPR, a statewide non-profit without allegiance to any political party.
"He helped bring many organizations to the table to work together on many key reforms," she said. "Because there have been so many political scandals in Illinois and reform ideas often are strongly resisted in the Capitol, it is important to remember that significant changes have occurred during the past decade.
"Campaign contribution information is more complete and easy for citizens to access on the internet," Canary noted. "State employees now have ethics training, and a system of investigators and ethics commissions is in place to pursue allegations of questionable behavior. But there obviously is much more to do to clean-up state government in Illinois."
ICPR led the effort to pass sweeping ethics reform legislation in 2003. Its work includes monitoring enforcement of the new ethics law; researching and reporting of campaign contribution and expenditure trends; encouraging informed and issue-oriented debate in judicial elections; developing non-partisan, state-sponsored voter education guides; advocating increased and improved coverage of election campaigns by broadcasters; and seeking passage of legislation to limit the influence of large contributors to political campaigns.For more information about the 10th anniversary event on November 7, visit the ICPR website (www.ilcampaign.org).