“Open Book Revolution” & DeKalb

This is about a relatively new but promising resource for Illinois activists at the local level. It’s called For the Good of Illinois and the goal is simple: Help community activists take steps for greater transparency in local government. Its mission:

For The Good Of Illinois was founded to empower regular people with the means to change how politics is practiced in Illinois state government. We want to rekindle the spirit of public service among our elected officials.

Everyone has a role to play. Government will be accountable to citizens who demand transparency. This is why grassroots organizing is so important. We’re working to return Illinois to its roots: the citizen.

We suggest fellow citizens adopt the philosophy of, “Not On My Watch!” and do something now to move Illinois in a different direction. ForTheGoodOfIllinois.org provides a simple road map to do this.

With all of our time and talent, we want to make Illinois right again – for regular people.

The founder is Adam Andrzejewski, whose father ran twice (1976, 1978) for state representative against George Ryan. He’s always wondered how things might be different now if his dad had won, and his answer is to criss-cross the state to train activists, especially of the “budding” sort, in how to achieve gains in government transparency with a bottom-up approach. Andrzejewski envisions an “Open Book Revolution.”

You’ll notice as you peruse the site that FTGOI is big on transparency via the electronic posting of check registers. Here’s why:

  • There is virtually no cost
  • We are already entitled to the information (i.e., no laws have to be changed)
  • It is a positive process
  • It uses technology that was born to serve the goal of increased public access
  • In other words, the check register is an eminently reasonable thing to ask for. FTGOI maintains an honor roll of school districts that have complied with the request. School districts, however, are only the start.

    Here’s where our own city, DeKalb, deserves kudos. About a year ago 10 of us residents (without knowing yet of FTGOI; great minds, etc.) requested the city post on its website not only the City Council meeting agendas–which it was already doing–but also the accompanying backup materials (reports, memos, site plans, etc.) along with them. DeKalb followed through on a promise to begin in January, and once each month, the previous month’s check register is included in the backup “packet.” What’s more, it is entirely possible we will find that the city is the first municipality in Illinois to post its check register, in which case DeKalb should be in for some special recognition.
    Mac discovered this outfit first, so here’s a link to his article, Hooters and all.