Illinois Policy Institute
8 months, 4 weeks ago Illinois Policy Institute
For decades, Illinois resident have been barraged with public corruption
From Illinois Policy Institute:
For decades, residents of Illinois have been barraged with a constant stream of public corruption stories in the media. In recent years, these tales include a governor trying to sell a Senate seat, a U.S. Congressman illegally siphoning off campaign funds for personal use, and a record breaking corruption story from the small town of Dixon.
Local governments in Illinois need to embrace online transparency both voluntarily and by a state government whose job it is to ensure their tax dollars are being spent wisely.
Here are some important facts every Illinoisan should know about local government transparency are:
1) A comprehensive local transparency bill, based on the Illinois Policy Institute’s 10-Point Transparency Checklist, has been introduced in the General Assembly in each of the last three sessions. (2011 – Senate Bill 37; 2012 – Senate Bill 3392; 2013 – House Bill 3312). However, each time the bill stalled before reaching the floor for a vote.
2) State and local government corruption is estimated to cost Illinoisans a minimum of $500 million per year.
3) Between 1976 and 2010, with 1,531 convictions, the federal Northern District of Illinois had the most public corruption convictions of any district nationwide. As a state, Illinois had the third most public corruption convictions during the same time period.
4) In fiscal year 2010, the state of Illinois distributed $65 billion in shared taxes, grants and federal pass-through funds to local governments in Illinois, not including school districts.
5) Local government corruption cases frequently involve funds from the state of Illinois. Former Dixon Comptroller Rita Crundwell was convicted of embezzling more than $53 million in the city of Dixon’s share of state sales, income, motor fuel and telecommunication taxes.
6) Eighty-five percent of the public believes it is important for local governments’ financial management information to be available, according to a 2010 survey by the Association of Government Accountants.
7) Fraud experts believe online transparency proactively discourages public employees, contractors and elected officials from engaging in corruption and wasteful government spending. Despite Illinois’ long history of public corruption, many local governments are still not learning the lessons from other community’s corruption scandals.
8) Illinois’ local government transparency regulations are embarrassingly light. Local governments are only required to post very limited information online underneath the Open Meeting Act and Freedom of Information Act. Some of the information required to be posted online includes a meeting calendar, agendas, meeting minutes and limited information on filing a Freedom of Information Act request.
9) Twenty-one of 102 Illinois counties didn’t have public websites, as of January 2014. Of the 81 counties with websites, only 12 have received a passing grade on the Illinois Policy Institute’s 10-Point Transparency Checklist.
10) Only 50 out of the nearly 7,000 local governments in Illinois have earned the Illinois Policy Institute’s Sunshine Award for online transparency. The Sunshine Award is earned by local governments scoring an 80 percent or better on the Institute’s 10-Point Transparency Checklist, which requires the following pieces of information to be posted online: