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The Mechanics
« Alderman Balcer Wins the Muzzle Midwest TIF Gets a $32 Million Raise »

Good Government/Reform Mon May 10 2010

Transparency Walk Back?

Illinois passed a pretty impressive Freedom of Information law last year. The act went into effect this year, to the tempered joy of journalists and transparency reformers everywhere.

Now a bill has been sent to Governor Quinn by the General Assembly (HB 5154) that would prohibit release of personnel records of government employees. This is of particular concern to police department watchdogs, since those records would contain evidence of discipline for abuse of power or abuse, critical tools for independent police oversight. Having a strong FOI law is so critical to transparency and so clearly in the public interest, that something like personnel records becoming public has to be considered at worst a necessary evil, and at best, a key component of improving operations in government.

That's on the one hand. On the other, even government employees should have some reasonable expectations of privacy, particularly those who are not in a significant policy-making or implementing area. These are not elected officials who opened themselves up to public evaluation. The fact that their personal performance reviews will be fully available to the public upon written request may deter ambitious climbers and subject long-time employees to invasions of privacy. That said, the Springfield Journal-Register has a pretty convincing Op-Ed that falls on the first hand: there is such a huge public interest in keeping this law strong that significant evidence should be required to constrict it, and there simply is little evidence that the disclosure of evidence would lead to abuse.

 
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Feature

Parents Still Steaming, but About More Than Just Boilers

By Phil Huckelberry / 2 Comments

It's now been 11 days since the carbon monoxide leak which sent over 80 Prussing Elementary School students and staff to the hospital. While officials from Chicago Public Schools have partially answered some questions, and CPS CEO Forrest Claypool has informed that he will be visiting the school to field more questions on Nov. 16, many parents remain irate at the CPS response to date. More...

Civics

Substance, Not Style, the Source of Rahm's Woes

By Ramsin Canon / 2 Comments

It's not surprising that some of Mayor Emanuel's sympathizers and supporters are confusing people's substantive disputes with the mayor as the effect of poor marketing on his part. It's exactly this insular worldview that has gotten the mayor in hot... More...

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About Mechanics

Mechanics is the politics section of Gapers Block, reflecting the diversity of viewpoints and beliefs of Chicagoans and Illinoisans. More...
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Editor: Mike Ewing, mike@gapersblock.com
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