Lunch with the Good Guys

No, I did not have lunch with the White Sox or Hawk Harrelson.

I attended the lunch fundraiser for the Better Government Association (BGA). It was almost a who’s who of the good guys in politics: former Cook County State’s Attorney and former Greylord Commission member Dick Devine, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart (my vote for having the worst job in Illinois for being at the budgetary mercy of Cook County Board President Todd Stroger and having to deal with Burr Oak Cemetery in addition to rampant crime), former federal prosecutor Pat Collins (responsible for putting yet another Illinois governor in the pokey), Chicago 32nd Ward Alderman Scott Waguespack (co-author of the TIF Sunshine Ordinance which the City of DeKalb completely ignored when I gave them a copy), former federal prosecutor and current Senate Candidate David Hoffman, a table full of FBI agents, and hundreds of others. I swear I did not read what was on Special Agent Rob Grant’s BlackBerry, PDA, iPhone, or whatever that was. We here in DeKalb pay a lot for people from City Hall to have memberships for meetings where they bring back wacky and excessively expensive ideas to keep up with the Napervilles. I did not see anybody from DeKalb’s City Hall at the Better Government Association event. Well, unlike the DeKalb County Courthouse or City Hall, there is a dress code at the Union League Club. 😉

I did not bother to bring a camera this time because I already knew my cheap camera cannot deal with the lighting in the Union League Club. You will just have to experience it virtually:

Executive Director Andy Shaw (former Channel 7 political reporter) described how approximately $100 billion goes for government throughout Illinois, including “mosquito abatement districts.” About $10 to $15 BILLION of that goes for waste, fraud, cronyism, etc., something the BGA and others call the ‘corruption tax’ in Illinois. Shaw could not recall more people in a single state “mad as hell.” Shaw described a “government in crisis at every level” in Illinois. Shaw and the BGA want to restore FAITH in government in Illinois: Fairness, Accountability, Integrity, Transparency, and Honesty. Thanks to some recent significant donations, the BGA has the funds to get back into the business of investigating government corruption. Two components of cleaning up government include sending messages to those in government and partnering with news organizations.

BGA President David Lundy touched on how the media does not have enough resources to cover everything, which is why they often partner with the media on investigations. He also said that people in government forgot that “public office is a public trust.” Lastly, he mentioned how those in government started thinking of the public as an annoyance and instead of as their employer.

Author and lawyer Scott Turow gave the keynote address. He said that state employees are not the problem. Most of them go to work wanting to do honest work. The problems are with the leadership and that nobody wants to go to Springfield to watch what is going on there. Only a handful of states do not have enough laws on campaign donations (including Illinois, of course) and that the campaign finance system in Illinois needs an overhaul. There was a weak bill on campaign finance reform but Governor Quinn vetoed it because he did not think it was good enough. There are problems with the system. State employees cannot go to dinner bought by someone but their boss can get campaign donations. Legislative leaders have far too much power. They can bankroll the opponents of anyone who may oppose them. Turow said that the people of Illinois should “demand or protest” until there is campaign finance reform.