Really, they'd love to be able to show you exactly what they've been doing with all of your tax money - it's just that it would cost too much money. Money that could be better spent on -- well, you'll just have to trust them there, won't you?
Because right now, government in Illinois operates under a public records law so weak that residents of the Wheaton-Warrenville school district were forced to litigate all the way to the state supreme court to be able to see the contract of the guy hired to run their school system. Who, coincidentally, turned out to be one of the highest paid school superintendents in the state. Not that it's any of your business.
In Cicero, town officials refused to disclose how much they were paying the members of various town boards and commissions, some of whom were relatives of the town president. Why do you really need to know?
In the face of such contempt for the practice of open government, some people in Illinois, including the General Assembly, decided it was time to pull back the curtain just a little bit. A revamped Freedom of Information law was passed and awaits the governor's signature.
Sure it sounds like a good idea. Until your house is on fire.
Because if these new provisions become law, cities may be "forced to lay off firefighters and police officers so that they can afford more Freedom of Information Act lawyers..."
Because you can't have a commitment to open government without employing a team of government lawyers to try to thwart it.
This warning comes to us from the folks at the Illinois Municipal League, a trade group that lobbies on behalf of keeping citizens in the dark. For their own good. With whose money do they lobby? I can't tell you because their budget, some of which comes from fees paid by member cities, is not public. Which is not to say it is not publicly funded. But that is not the point.
The point is, open records are dangerous, and possibly flammable.