by Brian Costin & Jordan Anetsberger
1990, Lyons police officers Donald Kroft and William Tweeter pleaded
guilty to having sex with prostitutes in return for overlooking crimes
at a suburban strip joint.”
Village President Kenneth Getty was convicted in 1998 of theft and
money laundering for his role in a bid-rigging scheme involving two
public works projects. 53 Prosecutors said Getty and two other
co-conspirators received more than $179,000 in kickbacks from the
“Lyons safety supervisor found guilty of taking payoffs in 2002.”
-Green Grass and Graft: Corruption in the Suburbs
a history of corruption in Lyons, one would think the village would have a vested interest in promoting government
transparency and compliance with state laws.
An open and transparent government would make sense considering current
Village President Christopher Getty is the son of a convicted felon, former Village President Kenneth Getty.
To make things more complicated in
2011 Christopher Getty and his father came under intense
scrutiny from the Chicago Tribune when he appointed his felon father to
the zoning board.
Additionally, the Chicago Tribune article raised questions about the practice of Getty's family insurance company selling insurance to local bars whose regulation fall under the duties of Village President Christopher Getty's as Liquor Commissioner. The younger Getty promised to stop selling insurance to local bars.
Given all of the controversy surrounding the village of Lyons and the Getty family it would make great sense, politically, to promote Lyons as "reformed" municipality.
In fact, on the Village of Lyons website the Village President, Christopher Getty, states he “believes in an open and transparent government.”
Where did the documents go?
Unfortunately some politicians pledge a transparent and open government but instead work to make government less transparent and less accountable.
the Institute received a tip stating that key transparency documents,
including some that are required by law, were being pulled from the
The Institute responded by re-examining the Village of Lyons’ website using our 10-point Transparency Checklist and comparing our current findings to the results of our original audit in 2010.
We were alarmed to find the village of Lyons' 2010 already low score of 35.5% dropped by 26.1 points to a score of just over 9%. Lyons score of 9.4% makes it the173rd lowest score out of 185 local government websites graded by the Institute.
We are at a loss to explain why a government agency committed to "open and transparent government" could allow this to happen.
Disappearing from the village of Lyons website include:
Additional items recommended by the Institute's 10-Point Transparency
Checklist but not appearing on the village of Lyons website include:
- Meeting agendas (required by state law).
- FOIA information (required by state law).
- Financial audits
- Sales tax information
Flaunting Transparency Laws
- Board packets
- Individual or yearly expenditures
- Employee salary and benefit disclosure
- Current request for bids and proposals
- Contracts with third party vendors
- Public employee contracts
- Lobbying and membership information
- Property tax disclosure
- Fee schedule disclosure
only transparency items remaining on the website from the first audit include limited contact
information, a calendar and one and a half months worth of meeting minutes
minutes available on Lyons website are from January and February of
2011, and no listing of their more recent minutes are available. The State’s Open Meetings Act requires:
A public body that has a website that the full-time staff of the public body maintains shall post the minutes of a regular meeting of its governing body open to the public on the public body's website within 10 days after the approval of the minutes by the public body. Beginning July 1, 2006, any minutes of meetings open to the public posted on the public body's website shall remain posted on the website for at least 60 days after their initial posting.
Additionally, because the Village maintains a website the Freedom of Information Act requires them to post the following information.
(a) A brief description of itself, which will include, but not be limited to, a short summary of its purpose, a block diagram giving its functional subdivisions, the total amount of its operating budget, the number and location of all of its separate offices, the approximate number of full and part-time employees, and the identification and membership of any board, commission, committee, or council which operates in and
(b) A brief description of the methods whereby the public may request information and public records, a directory designating the Freedom of Information officer or officers, the address where requests for public records should be directed, and any fees allowable under Section 6 of this Act.
No such information exists on the Village of Lyons website.
This means in regards to the Freedom of Information Act and the Open Meetings Act the village of Lyons is either breaking the law or deliberately evading it.
Also alarming, the State Comptroller's website reports that the village of Lyons has not yet filed their annual financial report for
either 2010 or 2011. Illinois state law requires municipalities to file
their annual report no later than 180 days after the end of a fiscal
year. The 2010 fiscal year ended for Lyons on December 31, 2010, over 540 days
ago. The deadline for filing their 2011 report passed on June 29.
How are the citizens of Lyons supposed to hold their government accountable without access to annual financial reports required by law?
Illinois Policy Institute believes citizens have a right to know basic
public information so they can be informed participants
in the democratic process.
While Christopher Getty says he “believes in an open and transparent
government” the village of Lyons certainly is acting in a manner
entirely contradictory to his campaign promises.
therefore urge Getty and the entire village
government of Lyons to make a strong effort to fix the lack of
transparency plaguing their website, fulfill state website transparency
laws, and file their reports owed to the Illinois State Comptroller's