Friday, August 16, 2013

Editorial: Making Politically Appointed Board Members accountable to Illinois taxpayers

It is time to achieve transparency in the selection process

Daily there are news stories published that focus on breach of the public trust, waste of taxpayer monies and failure to safeguard the public's assets. 

Investigations are launched, such as the announcement yesterday of Governor Quinn appointing a task force for Metra. 
http://www3.illinois.gov/PressReleases/ShowPressRelease.cfm?SubjectID=3&RecNum=11451

Putting yellow crime tape around the scene simply provides a historical reference of the events. This is tantamount to holding a coroner's inquest after the commission of a homicide. Forensic investigation of the  crime after the fact; not preventative actions to avoid the death in the first place.

Conjures up the image of Ducky Lucky warning that the sky is falling in.

FACTS & BACKGROUND:

There are 13 Million citizens in the State of Illinois.

The Governor of Illinois has an Office of Executive Appointments Illinois Board, Commission, Task Force & Council List comprising 361 entities
http://appointments.illinois.gov/appointmentsListing.cfm

Using simple arithmetic, with an average of 7 appointees per commission, this is a haven for patronage appointments numbering 2,527. This represents 0.00019 of the entire population. Why be selfish? Let's give others a chance to serve.

Why do these anointed few vie for these coveted positions, many at no compensation? It can only be for ultimate personal gain in stature or financial reward!

Here is a challenge to the established press and watchdogs in Chicago who profess to seek honest government: 

We urge you to create an open forum and public posting of these nominations for 60 days to allow the public to scrutinize the reputation, backgrounds and motivations of these civic minded individuals. This vetting process will insure open and fair consideration of folks who have a fiduciary duty to budget and spend millions of taxpayer dollars. 

This process will also put elected officials on notice to appoint people with integrity and proper qualifications to represent the citizens of Illinois and make them accountable for their decisions.

Current Method #1  Nominate yourself
http://appointments.illinois.gov/bcForm.cfm

This looks legitimate but Illinois citizens can spot a rigged deal at 100 paces. There is almost no chance that an average citizen will secure an appointment simply by applying.

"Nobody that Nobody sent" would disrupt the political recommendation process and rewards for loyalty to elected officials. Having common folk perform these altruistic acts
of proper government would be a lot less fun but would surely result in getting proper use of taxpayer funds for the public welfare.

Current Method #2  Become an insider

It is Illinois. We are cynical. Method #2 is the only route to getting appointed to these boards!

These appointments all carry a finite term. Here is a little known secret. When the term has expired, board members continue to serve until new appointments are made; they do not vacate their offices like elected officials. 

There are also no term limits for service on these boards. We recommend no more than 5 years total. Churn is good to provide fresh viewpoints and prevent these board members from obtaining personal gain or influence based upon these appointments.

The insidious fact is that these people also game the system by moving from one board to another. Keeping track is harder than playing Wackamole!

How many appointees live south of I-80? Are any appointees from Cairo, Decatur or Danville? Maybe a handful at best.

Taxpayer Options

Report Misconduct
How to file a complaint with the Special Inspector General regarding any suspected instances of fraud, waste, abuse, or misconduct involving a Board or Commission.
Visit http://inspectorgeneral.il.gov/complaint.htm
Office of Executive Inspector General
32 West Randolph Street
Suite 1900
Chicago, Illinois 60601
General Number: (312) 814-5600
Hotline Number: (866) 814-1113
TTY: (800) 524-8794
Fax: (312) 814-5479

Online Complaint Link  http://www2.illinois.gov/oeig/Pages/FileaComplaint.aspx

Make the Illinois Senate accountable for their approval of these appointees.

There is a system of checks and balances between the executive and legislative branches of Illinois government. The Senate should convene an oversight committee that reviews the candidates 60 days prior to voting on the appointments. Public disclosure of affiliations to politicians should be part and parcel of the vetting process. The public has a right know about potential conflicts of interest during the approval process.

Currently, appointments are rammed through a session at 3PM when nobody is paying attention. This is not acceptable, especially since there is no process for background checking on any candidate. This "all in favor say aye" approach to government is not in the taxpayer's interest.

Senators, you have the ability to fix this problem and we strongly suggest that you do this post haste!

Corruption cannot breed where safeguards are in place. Public awareness and the use of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) empowers the citizens of Illinois to foster honest government. Reporting misconduct should keep the Inspector General very busy. Whistleblower complaints will keep these board members on notice that taxpayers will no longer tolerate mismanagement of public funds via sole source contracts to friends and family.

We have seen the failure of Governor Quinn to reform government with the Illinois Reform Commission. After 100 days, none of the recommendations proposed by Patrick Collins were adopted.

Our expectations are very low that he will succeed in reforming Metra until the current practice of patronage appointments is
eliminated. 

Today is a good day to start the cleanup, Governor.

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