The front-page story in The State Journal-Register from May 20 (“Union rips request for state workers’ reviews”) does a disservice to your readers.
Employee reviews are currently available to citizens who submit a Freedom of Information request. House Bill 5154 changes this to make employee evaluations off limits. The legislature seeks to wall off current transparency and accountability from citizens, watchdog groups and the media. The last thing Illinois needs is more secrecy.
Your reporter reported that the Illinois Policy Institute will post these evaluations online. That is incorrect.
Public employees are paid by taxpayer dollars — they serve the public. Citizens have a right to hold public employees accountable. Employee evaluations are one tool. Public employee unions recently rallied in Springfield asking Illinois citizens to pay higher taxes to maintain public employee jobs, wages, health-care and pension benefits. Yet they do not want those same citizens to have the tools needed to hold them accountable for performance.
Taxpayers are under scrutiny daily. We must report our personal income, spending and a myriad of personal information to state and federal government as part of our obligations as citizens when we pay taxes to fund public employees. The unions want citizens to simply pay and they will hold themselves accountable. That is clearly not working.
It is not liberal or conservative to have openness and transparency in government. America’s founding premise is that citizens are in charge of their government, not the other way around. How can that responsibility be well managed without all the information being available, including job performance evaluations?
If your grandmother is being cared for by a state social worker, wouldn’t you like to know how well the person is doing in her job or will you simply take it on faith that all state workers are “excellent”? John Tillman, CEO Illinois Policy Institute