Metro-East News

Ethics training offered for St. Clair County public officials

For the second time, the St. Clair County State’s Attorney’s Office and Southwestern Illinois College will hold a government ethics course for public officials.

Over 30 public officials of both political parties attended the first session last Fall, according to State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly, who created the course to improve public integrity and ethics in local government.

“It is very encouraging to see folks from both parties candidly talking about these challenges and taking it seriously,” Kelly said. “If this approach were mandatory across the state, it could have a genuine impact.”

Kelly, who has prosecuted numerous public officials in the last four years, worked with Southwestern Illinois College faculty to create the course and said he hopes the class will become mandatory for all elected and appointed public officials.

The ethic course covers issues from the Open Meetings Act to conflicts of interest and criminal consequences for violating the public trust.

Former Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon and former US Attorney and current Illinois Director of Public Safety Rodger Heaton were the final speakers at the “Good Government 101” class last Fall.

“What a brilliant idea,” said Simon, who served on the Illinois Reform Commission that proposed Illinois’ first campaign spending limits. Simon, whose father late Sen. Paul Simon, was a government reform advocate, said, “This is an example of good news in Illinois government for a change.

Heaton told attendees of his years prosecuting public officials in Illinois and the cost of that misconduct to the public and to the officials personally.

“Corruption has caused a great deal of cynicism, but citizens have to be engaged to change that. I salute those committed to serve in the right way,” he said.

Graduates of the first Good Government 101 class include: Former Belleville Alderwoman Janet Key Schmidt, Fairview Heights Alderwomen Patricia Baeske and Denise Williams, Freeburg Trustees Mike Blaies and Lisa Meehling, Brooklyn Mayor Vera Bans, Washington Park Trustee Yulonda Clark, New Baden Clerk Teri Crane, Mascoutah Mayor Gerry Daughtery, Belleville Aldermen Ed Dintleman, Scott Tyler and Kent Randle, Brooklyn Trustees Juanita Finley, Shelia Finley, and Vanessa Garth, New Athens Trustees Arlene Geppert and Terry Politsch, O’Fallon Clerk Phillip Goodwin, O’Fallon Alderman Kevin Hagarty, Belleville Treasurer Dean Hardt, East St. Louis Mayor Emeka Jackson Hicks, Fairveiw Heights Clerk Karen Kaufhold, Fairveiw Heights Aldermen John Harry Zimmerman, Richard Klein and Frank Mann, Fairview Heights Mayor Mark Kupsky, Freeburg Village Clerk Jerry Menard, New Athens Clerk Michelle Neff, Swansea Trustees Brian Wells and Marilyn Neumeyer, New Athens Deputy Clerk Nancy Ritter, Mascoutah City Councilman Paul Schorr, New Athens Treasurer Sandra Lee Stolte, Cahokia Trustee Gloria Ware, St. Clair County Township Trustee Jaynie Wells and St. Libory Trustee Judy Trentman Wilson.

The classes are two hours on Thursdays begining on June 2. The course cirriculum will include a course introduction on public trust and public opinion by Donald Simpson, a professor at the University of Illinois Chicago, Open Meetings and Freedom of Information Acts by Public Access Counselor Sarah Pratt of the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, Ethical Conflicts, Gift Ban, Whistleblower Act, Public Offical Prohibited Activities Act by lawyer Kevin Hoerner, Illinois Election Code, Campaign Finance, Voter Integrity by the Illinois Board of Elections, Financial Report Requirements, Annual Audits and Statements of Economic Interest by the Illinois Comptroller’s Office and Criminal Consequence for Violation of the Public Trust by Heaton and Sheila Simon, followed by graduation.

If you are an elected or appointed public official, you can sign up for “Good Government 101” by calling the SWIC Continuing Education Class at 618-235-2700 Ext. 5393. Classes begin the first Thursday in June and continue for six weeks.