It doesn't take a genius to see through the "Clean the Slate" effort. Its newsletter, promoting 23 candidates for the Rock Island County Board, asks: "Tired of one party controlling all jobs in the county? Unless you are related to or know key people in the county government; your chances of being hired or promoted are unlikely."
There's no mention of party affiliation - and no branding by the Rock Island County Republicans - in the newsletter, which notes that it was paid for by the Clean the Slate PAC. On the other hand, its Web site (CleanSlate2012.net) includes a photo showing the Rock Island County Republicans logo, and the county-party Web site includes a link to Clean the Slate.
Even if the connections aren't explicit, Clean the Slate is a pretty naked attempt to recast the county-board election in nonpartisan, good-government terms. Republicans are clearly hoping that common-sense critiques will loosen the grip held on the body by the Democratic party.
Yet you'd be hard-pressed to argue that the initiative doesn't have valid points. The 25-seat Rock Island County Board presently has four Republican members, and the issue is less philosophical uniformity than organizational comfort. Because most county boards operate with little public or media scrutiny, the absence of oversight or internal opposition can result in their members acting with collective near-impunity. And Clean the Slate has articulated a handful of areas in which the Rock Island County Board needs improvement - from being more flexible with public comment to stopping nepotism to ending the practice of paid absenteeism for board members.