by Brian Costin
With a score of 96.5 percent, the Hanover Township is the first township-level government entity in the state to earn an “A” grade in the Illinois Policy Institute’s Local Transparency Project.
The Local Transparency Project grades governments on the availability to the public of vital community information, such as public meeting schedules, government employee salaries and tax rates. Since the project was launched in February 2010, more than 130 government entities have been graded.
Illinois has a long history of corruption, and unfortunately that corruption hasn’t escaped Hanover Township. In 2010, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez described a corruption case of Hanover Township’s former welfare department director, Aurea Picasso, “may be a new low in Cook County corruption.” for which she later pleaded guilty to stealing more than $193,100 from Hanover Township taxpayers and was sentenced to 6 years in prison.
While corruption attracts big headlines, not as much attention is given to those who are tasked with the work to restore trust in government after the damage is done in public corruption scandals, as Hanover Township officials have done since. So far, Hanover Township is the only township-level government entity in the state to achieve a score above 90 percent on the Institute’s 10-Point Transparency Checklist.
See Hanover Township’s Transparency Center website here.
Proactive online transparency of government agencies helps deter corruption from happening in the first place and allows administrators, citizens watchdogs, and the media to reveal and stop corruption once it happens. For example, just a few months after being elected new Hanover Township Supervisor Brian McGuire found questionable expenditures from the Township’s welfare department was able to alert the State’s Attorney office to identify and prosecute public corruption.
The more the public has access to financial information Illinois the more citizens will be able to hold government accountable and start changing the perception that Illinois is one of the most corrupt States in the country. Kudos to Hanover Township’s elected officials and staff for recognizing the importance online transparency and being accountable to the public.
“Hanover Township is accountable to the taxpayers and this project gave us a chance to highlight our open and honest practices,” said Brian McGuire, Hanover Township Supervisor. “We appreciated working with the Illinois Policy Institute to assist us in becoming a more transparent government for our residents.”
Hanover Township has set a new standard for proactive online transparency for a level of local government that doesn’t get a lot of attention until something goes wrong. Often townships lack information that other government entities provide, so the Illinois Policy Institute applauds Hanover Township’s efforts. We hope that other townships across Illinois will take notice of Hanover’s transparency efforts and strive to be accountable to their own citizens and taxpayers.