In response to “Lee County website falls short legally” [saukvalley.com, Aug. 14], it’s troubling to read the rhetoric being expressed by some Lee County Board members in regard to proactive online transparency and the public’s right to know how their tax dollars are being spent.
Board member John Ferrone, R-Dixon, reportedly was “livid” at the Illinois Policy Institute for asking Lee County to post more public information online. Should it be shameful to fight public corruption in Illinois? Absolutely not.
Maybe Ferrone forgot two Illinois governors currently are in jail. Ferrone’s own hometown was victim to one of the biggest public corruption scandals in Illinois history when Dixon Comptroller Rita Crundwell was charged with [misappropriating] $53 million from local taxpayers.
Not only is Ferrone resisting the online transparency recommendations laid out in the Illinois Policy Institute’s 10-Point Transparency Checklist, but Lee County has violated state Freedom of Information Act laws.
Since January 2010, Illinois law requires all local governments with a website to post information about how citizens can make Freedom of Information Act requests. But as recently as Aug. 13, this information didn’t appear on the Lee County website.
Why not? Perhaps this is an attempt to discourage citizens from asking questions about how their tax dollars are being spent.
Why is Ferrone using the suggestions of a taxpayer-funded lobbying group, United Counties Council of Illinois, as an excuse to resist transparency measures? This includes self-serving recommendations of not posting information about tax money paid to lobbying groups such as UCCI.
It’s time for citizens and elected officials to reject shadowy government as “business as usual.” By ushering in government transparency, we can fight the fraud, waste and abuse of taxpayer dollars that has plagued Illinois for too long.
Why wait for a state law? Taxpayers have a right to know today.