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The Cost of Freedom of Information PDF Print E-mail
Editorials
Written by Todd McGreevy   
Wednesday, 05 February 2014 10:12

Late last year, I published a commentary on the questionable policy implementation by the Scott County Board of Supervisors, at the request of staff, to indiscriminately destroy e-mails more than three years old, beginning January 2, 2014 (RCReader.com/y/email1).This new policy was implemented in the wake of Assistant County Administrator Mary Thee issuing a memo to county employees about the increase of public inquiries and litigation requesting e-mail messages.

In the spirit of practicing what I was preaching, namely getting one’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests in before the January 2 date (despite the county administrator extolling that her staff has been practicing said deleting for some time), I submitted a FOIA request about a topic this paper has covered more extensively than any local news outlet: the Scott County Emergency Communications Center, a.k.a. SECC911. (See RCReader.com/y/foia1 and RCReader.com/y/foia2.)

Keep in mind that the SECC911 project is important because it was sold to the taxpayers as a cost-saver, only to have its costs more than quadruple the original estimates, ballooning to more than $20 million. And the entity that was created under a 28E, or “emergency services” statute, is made up of un-elected appointees, who possess unlimited, or un-capped, taxing authority. I am still amazed at how few people are familiar, let alone concerned, with this black hole that flies completely under the radar. And, lest we forget, years later we still don’t have a consolidated 911 dispatch service.

This request was e-mailed to the Scott County Board of Supervisors as well as Administrator Dee Bruemmer. Below is the text of that request, and the response from Assistant County Attorney Robert Cusack. For those paying close attention, yes, Cusack is the son of William Cusack, one of the supervisors this FOIA request was directed to.

 
TV Assault Takes a Toll on Quinn PDF Print E-mail
Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 02 February 2014 15:12

Without a doubt, the most overlooked aspect of Bruce Rauner’s multi-million-dollar TV-ad buy has been his advertising campaign’s repeated attacks on Governor Pat Quinn.

“Career politicians are running our state into the ground, and Pat Quinn, he’s at the top of the heap,” Rauner says in one of his ads that have permeated the airwaves since November. “Pat Quinn, a career politician who failed to deliver term limits,” a Rauner TV announcer declares in another spot.

The millions of dollars worth of ads are supposedly aimed at Republican-primary voters, but obviously everybody else in the state is seeing them, as well. And Quinn, who doesn’t have a well-funded primary opponent, hasn’t bothered to rebut any of Rauner’s multiple attacks. Considering Illinois’ persistently high unemployment rates, the hostile national climate, the never-ending negative stories about the state’s finances, and Quinn’s four-year history of low job-performance scores, the governor’s silence seems like a big mistake.

And if a new Capitol Fax/We Ask America poll is accurate, Rauner’s months-long, unrebutted attacks have indeed helped knock Quinn into a shockingly deep hole.

 
Pete Seeger (1919-2014): He Changed the World One Song at a Time PDF Print E-mail
Guest Commentaries
Written by John W. Whitehead   
Wednesday, 29 January 2014 11:56

Pete Seeger at the Clearwater Festival 2007. Photo by Anthony Pepitone.

My job is to show folks there’s a lot of good music in this world, and if used right it may help to save the planet.” – Pete Seeger

The world will be saved by people fighting for their homes. Homes will be saved by people who fight for the world.” – Pete Seeger

Pete Seeger, the activist/singer/songwriter who tried to change the world with every note he uttered, died January 27 at age 94, and we are all the poorer for it.

A longtime friend whose letters I treasured for their hand-drawn embellishments and whose words of encouragement urged me to keep on fighting, Seeger belonged to a dying breed of Americans who cared more about making a difference using whatever resources were available to them than luxuriating in creature comforts and basking in the glow of their greatness.

Long before the Beatles or the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix or Bob Dylan, there was Pete Seeger, a lone ranger fighting injustice with little more than a five-string banjo in hand and a gift for putting words to music. Unarguably one of the most important musical influences of the 20th Century, Seeger helped to lay the foundation for American protest music, singing out about the plight of everyday working folks and urging listeners to political and social activism.

 
Topinka Works Hard for Union Endorsement PDF Print E-mail
Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 26 January 2014 18:04

I don’t think I’ve seen a Republican – or a candidate of any stripe – work as hard for an AFL-CIO endorsement than Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka did.

She assiduously courted the unions who represent workers in her office, worked to help the Teamsters pass a bill important to the union that jabbed at a non-union cemetery owner (the comptroller’s office regulates some cemeteries), built strong relationships with some labor-union leaders and attended tons of their events, and even endorsed the union-backed pension reform bill.

In other words, she went above and beyond her Democratic rival Sheila Simon (presently the lieutenant governor) on pretty much all counts. The Simon family has long enjoyed union support. Except for his successful U.S. Senate primary bid in 1984, union leaders and members almost always backed her father Paul.

 
Federal Creep Into Local Counties and Municipalities Is Accelerating PDF Print E-mail
Editorials
Written by Kathleen McCarthy   
Wednesday, 22 January 2014 11:13

Who do you think is responsible for the performance of elected representatives and the thousands of agencies/bureaucracies throughout local, state, and federal government? Who do you think is responsible for protecting your unalienable rights?

Perhaps it is you? I bristle at the endless complaining about politicians, bureaucrats, and corporate leaders’ under-performance, especially when coupled with unreasonable expectations that those folks make all the changes necessary to relieve our discontent.

Why on Earth should they when we choose not to do our own part in America’s governance? The old adage “Labor respects what management inspects” is no less true for We the People. We are the managers, and in today’s political and civic environment, the huge majority of us completely abdicate our personal duties and responsibilities required to live in a free and open society.

 
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