For Immediate Release
For More Information Contact
Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) [email protected]
Eight agents fired including two supervisors in aftermath of Secret Service agents partying in Argentina on taxpayer money.
Lois Lerner under investigation for using her position in the IRS to target specific political opponents of the President.
In the wake of a scandal in which employees throughout the U.S. Veterans Affairs’ massive hospital system conspired to hide months-long wait times that veterans faced when seeking care, Eric Shinseki resigns as Director of Veterans Affairs, along with Dr. Robert Petzel undersecretary of health in the same department.
Eleven former teachers in Atlanta’s public school system each face up to 20 years in prison after being convicted Wednesday on racketeering charges for their role in one of the largest cheating scandals in U.S. history.
And in our backyard, College of DuPage senior administrators wining and dining with taxpayer money, giving insiders no-bid contracts and falsifying enrollment numbers.
The list of malfeasance within government is broad, deep and seemingly endless. Those attempting to clean up the corruption created by people put in positions of trust are faced with a grueling task. It requires an inordinate amount of perseverance and backbone, as clean-up crews – watchdogs, reformers, activists, lawyers – wade through the legal machinations of firing senior staff, fighting union rules on dismissal, and sorting out accountability. On top of which, they must endure public attacks on their reputations.
Government has grown so big and unwieldy that uncovering which units of government are running clean operations – you know, operations that are in accordance with laws and regulations – is a monumental task, requiring far more than the efforts of any individual person, watchdog group, or media outlet. The cost in time and resources in almost incalculable.
The worst part of all of this, is that there would be no need for this if those in positions of trust – specifically senior and mid-level administrators – would simply do the job they were hired to do and are well compensated for. Yes, elected officials also carry the blame, and are primarily to be blamed when confronted with organizational wrong-doing – especially when they refuse to take it seriously and cover-up, rather than expose, the problems. Hold them accountable too.
To say the least, the overuse of secrecy within government organization is a problem. It limits necessary debate on policy and deprives citizens of information on which to make policy and political judgments. Only a counter-culture of openness and a respect for the balance of power can reverse the damage of the past decade.
These illustrations listed above go beyond simply placing an excessive order or going on a professional training trip that could have been administered on-line. The problem in these examples is that clearly senior administrators either actively participated in or passively condoned behavior that is illegal, unwarranted, or both.
In the military, you are taught the conditions under which you can refuse an unlawful order. Let’s be clear here, in civilian life, disobeying an unlawful order is much easier. There are whistleblower protections, employment lawyers, and no fear of a court martial for disobeying a superior officer.
The common denominator of whistle-blowers is the same: They disclose information of significant public importance that reveals illegal, unconstitutional or dangerous conduct, sometimes at the highest levels of government. Speaking truth to power is never easy, but it is valuable. If Illinois is serious about solving its fiscal and structural problems, we need as much sunshine as we can get at every level of government. And at the moment, the lights are out.