The Better Government Association is off and running in 2011—major investigations, watchdog success stories and the unveiling of our new logo—and we want to share the highlights with our friends and supporters:

 

Jan. 5, 2011: BGA files a lawsuit challenging the Chicago Police Department’s refusal to release information about the size and cost of the police security detail assigned to Chicago Alderman Edward Burke, documents the public has a right to review under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. We need the details to assess the value of police protection for one alderman at a time of budget deficits and police manpower shortages.
 

Jan. 11, 2011: A BGA/Daily Herald investigation reveals Oak Brook Village President John Craig, a critic of village pensions for first responders, collects four public pensions with his wife—and they’ll get a fifth pension when he retires. The story underscores the need for pension reform in Illinois.

Jan. 13, 2011: A BGA/CBS 2 investigation uncovers serious budget and operational irregularities in Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas’ office. A total of three stories on the treasurer’s office air over the next month on CBS 2, identifying more than $343,181 in “questionable salaries.” Result: An independent audit of all Cook County budgets and personnel is launched.

Jan. 14, 2011: BGA unveils its new logos. The main logo, our B-G-A acronym, conveys “shining a light on government,” and a modernized bulldog pays homage to the BGA’s legacy and investigative roots.

Jan. 14, 2011: A joint investigation by the BGA and FOX Chicago News discovers a city employee making more than $100,000 after being fired by another city department for crashing a government-owned car while drunk. Perhaps we need a database so different units of government have information about one another.

 

Jan. 18, 2011: A BGA/WGN-TV/Chicago magazine investigation finds Cook County Board of Ethics Chairman John Pikarski made significant political contributions and maintained close ties to the County assessor, an elected official the ethics board is charged with monitoring. Result: Pikarski resigns just one day after the story airs. Next: Board should enact conflict of interest legislation.
Jan. 19, 2011: The Field Foundation Awards the BGA a $20,000 grant for the BGA Citizen Watchdogs of Education, a training program that aims to educate and engage citizens on education, school funding and Chicago Public Schools.

Jan. 21, 2011: BGA names H. Roderic Heard board chairman and adds seven new board members—Tamara Askew, Graham Grady, Hill Hammock, David Hoffman, Mary Lee Leahy, Jack Modzelewski and Robin Steans.

Jan. 23, 2011: The Taproot Foundation awards an in-kind service grant worth $60,000 to BGA for marketing, branding and a membership drive.

Jan. 24, 2011: ABC Investigative Reporter Brian Ross agrees to be the guest speaker at our 2011 Richard H. Driehaus Investigative Awards in May. 

 

Jan. 25, 2011: BGA posts candidate responses to its 2011 Mayoral Candidate Questionnaire and invites followers to take the questionnaire.
 

Jan. 30, 2011: A joint investigation by the BGA and the Daily Herald finds nine of the 15 DuPage County Board members who approved a no-bid contract for an Itasca law firm to help redraw the county’s electoral boundaries have accepted campaign contributions from the group or it’s attorneys. This is another case for stronger campaign finance/conflict of interest legislation.
Jan. 31, 2011: Philanthropist Richard Driehaus approves a $1 million matching grant to the BGA to help us elevate the scope and impact of our investigations, civic engagement and public policy advocacy. The Richard H. Driehaus Charitable Lead Trust will match every dollar donated to the BGA up to 1 million over the next 3 years, and we’ll be announcing details of our “Million Dollar Match” campaign shortly so stay tuned.

Jan. 31, 2011: A tip from BGA Citizen Watchdogs leads to a BGA/FOX Chicago News investigation of slow 911 response times in Chicago’s West Side Austin neighborhood. Keep the tips and leads coming—we can’t do it without you.

The BGA staff and board thank you for your interest and support. 2011 is off to a great start. We’re watching, shining a light on government and holding public officials accountable. Please watch with us.