Learn More Open the Books

It’s the Taxpayers’ Checkbook. Tribune endorses transparency.

That information is public. It should be available.”
Chicago Tribune Editorial Board
Sunday, January 27, 2013

 Chicago Tribune – Read Editorial here

After waiting nine months, we recently filed a lawsuit to compel the Illinois Comptroller to comply with the Freedom of Information Act and release the detailed state spending information- the “state checkbook.”

Yesterday, the Chicago Tribune wrote a reasoned, thoughtful editorial outlining the public policy issues at stake in our lawsuit, For The Good of Illinois, Inc v. State of Illinois, Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka.

Please read the editorial here. Here are some highlights:

“Let a judge decide if the scope of the task outweighs the public benefit of releasing information that taxpayers are legally entitled to inspect. That should be a very high bar indeed.

For The Good of Illinois’ goal is to post ‘every dime’ spent by all 7,000-plus units of government in Illinois. That would be a nifty public resource.”

Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka says it would take many staffers many hours to review, redact and assemble the records requested by For The Good of Illinois.”
“… the group requested similar records, some dating back to 2001, from the City of Chicago and all the state’s public colleges, universities and school districts. All except the state comptroller complied.”

In her campaign to avoid producing the records, Judy Baar Topinka told Illinois Review, “there is no magical checkbook” while also saying the “State Checkbook is Already Online” (State Journal-Register).  She had a different story to Capitol Fax saying that our requested records were ‘illegal‘.

The Tribune editorial cut through the Comptroller’s campaign of misinformation.

Now, we know the real reason: it just takes a bit of work. The Comptroller called the task, “unduly burdensome.” The Tribune wrote, “this much-abused loophole lets officials withhold too much public data from Illinois citizens.”

We agree.

The Comptroller has staff resources of 305 employees and an annual payroll budget of $14.5 million.

Produce the records.


Adam Andrzejewski

For The Good of Illinois | CEO

Bruno Behrend

Executive Director

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