TOP ELECTION ANALYSES
Leave it to one of our hometown columnists to come up with one of the best analyses of the Nov. 6 election I have seen! Jim Krohe’s Dec. 6 commentary (“Crowdsourcing presidential choice”) – with color map – hit the mark with his insight based on having lived there, as we writers are wont to say. As a reporter based in Chicago for 13 years, I was exposed to the extremely diverse population of that metropolitan land. Though I arrived from what one would consider a Germanic rural suburb of St. Louis, it took time to understand the changes that evolved in Greater Cook County from the 1950s through the 1960s outside my doors and what mighty changes have been occurring since. The point Krohe has made for the Republicans was echoed recently by former Gov. Jim Edgar when he summed up Illinois totals with the observation that the GOP here has to be aware that the Downstate line doesn’t start until south of Interstate 80 these days. It may continue that most of Downstate remains Republican in thinking. But that area is shrinking!
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Thank you for the superb journalistic essays in the current paper: Krohe on the election (“Crowdsourcing presidential choice,” Dec. 6), Crawford on pedophilia (“Organizations at fault when pedophiles play,” Dec. 6) and Hightower on the demise of the Twinkie (A death in the family, Dec. 6). Metro papers could take lessons!
It was disappointing to read that Illinois Times would rather criticize a privately funded nonprofit than hold local governments accountable for being transparent with its citizens (“Clear as mud,” Dec. 6). Citizens have a right to know if their tax dollars are being spent wisely. Local governments that post online basic public information – such as budgets, audits and expenditures – make it easier for citizens to hold government accountable and deter public corruption.
Since 2010, the Illinois Policy Institute has graded more than 300 local government agencies across Illinois using our 10-point transparency checklist. Our checklist isn’t the only way to gauge transparency, but it’s one way to objectively measure how much vital information is readily available to the public.
A recent project evaluated the websites of 25 counties in western and central Illinois, and found that very basic information – such as meeting notices and government worker salaries – are missing from county websites. Only Macoupin County had a passing grade on our audit.
In a state marred by a history of corruption, which even the U.S. Department of Justice labeled the third most corrupt state in the nation, this is unacceptable.
Illinois Times incorrectly stated that the Illinois Policy Institute is “an organization that never seems to have a bad thing to say about Republicans but can’t find anything to like about Democrats.” The Institute advocates for free market policy, no matter who supports it. We’ve worked on transparency issues with Sen. Martin Sandoval, a Democrat, and support local pension accountability – an issue supported by Democrats in the Statehouse and reviled by Republicans.
Online transparency isn’t a Republican or Democratic issue; it is a nonpartisan issue that all should be able to get behind regardless of ideology.
Brian Costin, director of government reform
Illinois Policy Institute
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Illinois spends at least $1.5 billion per year on incentives for business each year according to a recent New York Times study. That is about $117 per capita or 5 cents per dollar of state budget. Why should business not verify their need for welfare from the taxpayers of Illinois just like other citizens? We are giving Walgreens a subsidy of an estimated $46 million in corporate income tax credits over 10 years, $625,000 in training funds and an additional $875,000 in other tax incentives. The tax credits are tied to the company’s retention of 1,500 jobs in Illinois. And Walgreens recently announced it was buying another chain of drug stores. So we subsidize Walgreens with tax money that we now do not have for education and they buy another chain with your money. The Illinois House should pass the Cullerton corporate tax disclosure bill.