Things that have happened.

In December 5 ILCS 140 had a brief moment in the sun when Jay Stewart of the Better Government Association, a BGA lawyer whose name I managed not to catch, and Paul Orfanedes of Judicial Watch testified before the House Special Investigative Committee (then considering whether to recommend impeachment for Blagojevich) to the governor's pattern of wrongly rejecting, or ignoring, FOIA requests, appeals, and court orders. The committee took pains to clarify that they were not looking for isolated instances, but an overall pattern of disregard for the law. Everyone was tired after the morning's testimony on JCAR and the state auditor's testimony about the flu vaccine debacle, and I have to assume that nobody found the FOIA testimony very compelling, since it was barely mentioned in the coverage I saw. To me, of course, this was the good part — the sale of a senate seat is momentarily titillating, but ignoring FOIA requests? That's the kind of thing that puts me in a fighting mood, as I sit here at the time of this writing having received no response whatsoever to a request of mine signed for by the office of the mayor of Chicago three months ago.

Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn has created the Illinois Reform Commission, the latest in a very long line of efforts to convince voters that this state is finally going to get its shit together, no, really, we mean it this time. (Given that it never does and that the voters keep electing the larcenous and deranged anyway, I don't quite see the point.) Among its members are Northwestern football coach Pat Fitzgerald, who hasn't had anything to do with government, ethics, or reform as far as I can tell and whose qualifications to sit on such a body are not immediately apparent to this observer but whose name does catch one's eye, and Douglas L. Johnson, M.D., Ph.D, a neurosurgeon whose presence one might suspect of serving as a commentary on the difficulty of reforming so much as a block club in this state. Its initial meeting today was held in conspicuous compliance with the Illinois Open Meetings Act during the day when nobody can attend. (No, some of us aren't ever happy.)

And lastly President Obama has reversed the infamous Ashcroft FOIA doctrine and brought transparency to the country's robots.txt file, laudable steps which I am sure his many vocal supporters among the elected Democrats of Chicago will waste no time in emulating, doing everything in their power to avoid unnecessarily denying a single FOIA request. Any minute now.

1. I know that Paddy Bauler actually said Chicago ain't ready for a reform mayor. Regrettably I find myself preferring the canonical lie.

December 19, 2008