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Website offers good news in open government

Jerry Moore: Website offers good news in open government

Western suburbs —
From December 2009 through January 2010, Adam Andrzejewski’s campaign website attracted about 300,000 page views.

A Hinsdale resident, Andrzejewski sought the Republican nomination for governor last year. As a technological luddite, it’s difficult for me to judge what that statistic means.

But Andrzejewski’s latest project sounds truly impressive, even from my novice perspective. Compared to the Internet traffic his campaign drew, his latest website recorded more than 100,000 page views in less than two days.

Andrzejewski’s For the Good of Illinois launched OpenTheBooks.com last week. For those wishing to access financial information regarding public employees, this site delivers the goods.

Users can access information regarding the salaries, retirement pensions and state-level workers compensation claims of employees for virtually every public body in Illinois. Information pertains to employees for municipalities, school and park districts, townships, counties and state government agencies — totaling more than $236 billion in expenditures.

“We expect many transparency and fiscal reform initiatives will spring forth once the people have access to the information we make available at the portal,” Andrzejewski said in a news release. “This portal is by no means complete, though. We still have more information to obtain and post, but we are well on our way. Today, saving Illinois from financial disaster will begin with 1,000 mouse clicks across the state.”

Andrzejewski, his Elmhurst-based organization and the public officials who helped them deserve a great deal of credit for compiling this information. It was an enormous undertaking, and it will benefit all of us substantially.

Ironically, some of our local state legislators touted this project as a way to improve governmental transparency. They included state Sens. Kirk Dillard, R-24th, of Hinsdale; Christine Radogno, R-41st, of Lemont; and Ron Sandack, R-21st, of Downers Grove.

Along with their colleagues in both political parties, they all voted for measures to further diminish the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. Promoting a website like this on the one hand while thwarting public access to public information on the other is incredibly hypocritical.

Jerry Moore is the opinions editor for Suburban Life Publications. Contact him at (630) 368-8930 or jmoore@mysuburbanlife.com.

Suburban Life Publications
Posted Sep 20, 2011 @ 03:49 PM

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