The Better Government Association recently learned that the organization won a prestigious Peter J. Lisagor award for a series of news articles and broadcasts over the past year on credit card abuses by government officials in the Chicago area.
These stories were done — separately — with FOX Chicago News and WGN-TV. The BGA and these TV stations won a Lisagor in the “multimedia collaboration” category, and were runners-up for the same stories in the “investigative reporting” category.
The stories focused on excessive and otherwise improper credit card spending at the Chicago Park District, Chicago Housing Authority and the City of Country Club Hills, among other places. In that south suburb, the BGA and WGN found, credit cards held by the mayor and city manager were used to charge roughly $80,000 in food and drink over a single year, including for My Tais aboard a cruise ship and sometimes two meals on a single day at local restaurants.
“More than exposing abuses, these stories helped prompt significant changes, including Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel suspending credit cards at city-related agencies,” said BGA President and CEO Andy Shaw. “We’re proud of our work, and appreciate the recognition, but we have much more to do to fulfill our mission of exposing waste, fraud and corruption in public agencies in Illinois.”
Lisagor winners were announced this past Friday by the Chicago Headline Club, a chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.