“Open Book Revolution” & DeKalb

This is about a relatively new but promising resource for Illinois activists at the local level. It’s called For the Good of Illinois and the goal is simple: Help community activists take steps for greater transparency in local government. Its mission:

For The Good Of Illinois was founded to empower regular people with the means to change how politics is practiced in Illinois state government. We want to rekindle the spirit of public service among our elected officials.

Everyone has a role to play. Government will be accountable to citizens who demand transparency. This is why grassroots organizing is so important. We’re working to return Illinois to its roots: the citizen.

We suggest fellow citizens adopt the philosophy of, “Not On My Watch!” and do something now to move Illinois in a different direction. ForTheGoodOfIllinois.org provides a simple road map to do this.

With all of our time and talent, we want to make Illinois right again – for regular people.

The founder is Adam Andrzejewski, whose father ran twice (1976, 1978) for state representative against George Ryan. He’s always wondered how things might be different now if his dad had won, and his answer is to criss-cross the state to train activists, especially of the “budding” sort, in how to achieve gains in government transparency with a bottom-up approach. Andrzejewski envisions an “Open Book Revolution.”

You’ll notice as you peruse the site that FTGOI is big on transparency via the electronic posting of check registers. Here’s why:

  • There is virtually no cost
  • We are already entitled to the information (i.e., no laws have to be changed)
  • It is a positive process
  • It uses technology that was born to serve the goal of increased public access
  • In other words, the check register is an eminently reasonable thing to ask for. FTGOI maintains an honor roll of school districts that have complied with the request. School districts, however, are only the start.

    Here’s where our own city, DeKalb, deserves kudos. About a year ago 10 of us residents (without knowing yet of FTGOI; great minds, etc.) requested the city post on its website not only the City Council meeting agendas–which it was already doing–but also the accompanying backup materials (reports, memos, site plans, etc.) along with them. DeKalb followed through on a promise to begin in January, and once each month, the previous month’s check register is included in the backup “packet.” What’s more, it is entirely possible we will find that the city is the first municipality in Illinois to post its check register, in which case DeKalb should be in for some special recognition.
    ——————
    Mac discovered this outfit first, so here’s a link to his article, Hooters and all.

    5 thoughts on ““Open Book Revolution” & DeKalb”

    1. DeKalb should be commended for listening to it’s constituents and adding their back-up material and check register to their website. I’ve read http://www.forthegoodofillinois.com and agree that citizen effort is the way to push for open government. Citizen involvement can and does make a difference IMO.

      Now we need to work on our school District 428. We all know that lack of trust in our schools is one of the biggest reasons so many past referendums have failed. We also know that now that we HAVE given them the go-ahead to spend our money, their actions so far are starting to make that trust wane. I am however, optimistic that our new school superintendent, Mr. Briscoe, will be open to the idea and that NOW is the time to push it. Who’s up for the effort?

    2. I have said this before but what I have viewed in these minutes is not a check register but a listing of checks that the city wants to release information on. IMO I would bet that the only checks on this register are those they are required by law to release and not a register of all checks issued by the City.

      A real and true check register will not have gaps in the numbers on the drafts. There are way to many missing check numbers so one must assume some checks are being left off the list. Why and for what reason? Has anyone really asked the City if there are checks left off this list and if so why?

      Example
      With over a million dollar deficit in the self insured work comp fund does the City consider these settlements confidential or are these payments on the register? Do the citizens have the right to know who are receiving these benefits?

      I think we all may be surprised if someone would ask the question: are there any checks issued that are not on the public check register and why?

      Pevo

    3. Pevo, I’ve been working on the assumption that the “missing” check entries are workers’ paychecks, and, as I understand it, wages would be a “phase II” request for information.

      However, your question about settlements makes me wonder what other types of information are being withheld from the register. Are you volunteering to ask?

    4. Sure. I am saying with all the exceptions where they go to executive session they probably have as many exceptions to the check register.

      I will ask and post what I find out

      Pevo

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