State Panel's Goal: Eliminate Poverty

Red tape already in the way

By Steve Rhodes
|  Wednesday, Nov 11, 2009  |  Updated 12:35 PM CDT
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About one in eight Illinoisans live in poverty.

One in eight.

Think about that number. Take a look around. One in eight.

That's more than 1.5 million - million - people. That includes 526,000 children.

Those are figures that don't come up very often when politicians wrangle over earmarks and clout lists and a few million dollars here and a few million dollars there for pet projects that will help ensure re-election by satisfying campaign contributors and set up brochure-ready photo-ops.

Bless the poor 26-member commission, then, set up last year by the General Assembly to, well, to eliminate poverty in Illinois.

No kidding.

Unfortunately, the commission doesn't even seem able to eliminate its own bureaucratic red tape before tackling something as daunting as eliminating poverty.

The final appointments to the panel weren't made until September, so the report due at the end of the year is likely to be pretty thin. The commission didn't hold its first meeting until October 28.

You probably missed it.

If only pols - and the media - gave this commission the same visibility as, say, the one that held hearings on the University of Illinois admissions scandal. A sense of urgency would do it good.

Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review.

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