CHICAGO - Politicians like to boast about legislation they've put into effect that permits sunshine on secretive agencies and and fresh air into closed-door deals on government spending. However reform-sounding the laws' intentions, rarely does anyone keep track of how those laws are being enforced.
Apparently, the state of Illinois is living up to its infamous reputation of corruption and political secrets despite a continual cycle of toughening ethics reform laws.
A recent study by a Illinois good government group found that 81 percent of Illinois' state agencies are not in compliance with mandatory Open Meeting Act training and certification.
The research, headed by former GOP gubernatorial candidate Adam Andrzejewski's "For the Good of Illinois," also found that 100 percent of the state's top 17 state agencies are not in compliance with the mandatory Open Records (FOIA) law.
"Why have laws if they are not enforced but instead willfully disregarded?" Andrzejewski asked with the study's findings. "It’s time the Illinois press weighed in on the basic issues of open meetings and records."
Illinois has a historic problem of the “smoke filled back room”- like the Tammany Hall in New York City, Andrzejewski said. There are three ways in which the Open Meetings Act opens up political behind the scene horse trading:
1. Agendas are posted ahead of a public meeting to invite citizens and notice given regarding purpose and topics.
2. At public meetings, the public is invited to give comment.
3. After the meeting, minutes and notes of the meeting are public record, relaying to the public who was present at the meeting, what topics were discussed and what decisions were made.
Of the 41 state agencies listed on the Attorney General’s website, only eight of Quinn’s appointed agency heads were in compliance with Open Meeting certification, the study found.
Six of Quinn’s agencies outright ignored "For the Good of Illinois" requests for information. In Illinois, public bodies have five days to respond to an information request and can take a five day extension. Ignoring information requests is a blatant disregard for the Freedom of Information Act.
If state government is not in compliance with Open Meetings, why should any of the other 7,000 governments in Illinois comply? the group asked.
How can Lisa Madigan enforce 5 ILCS 120/3.5(a) et. seq. statewide if her office refuses to enforce compliance on the very executives running State of Illinois government?