Governor RaunerGovernor Bruce Rauner /

When you think about it, the Chicago Bears and the State of Illinois are in a similar spot these days.

The Bears were 5-11, and ended the season with leaks and scandals coming from Halas Hall (remember those buyer’s remorse comments involving Jay Cutler?) Illinois has crushing pension problems, budget woes and its share of scandals as well (IDOT’s hiring issues and NRI come to mind). And now, two outsiders are coming in with the hopes of fixing things moving forward.

New Bears GM Ryan Pace has his work cut out for him turning around the NFL’s charter franchise. But new Gov. Bruce Rauner has the bigger job — fixing Illinois’ failing finances, working with the Democratic-controlled General Assembly, and making sure his administration is open, transparent and ethical.

At the Better Government Association we’re especially concerned about that last point.

Rauner-the-politician has not been transparent enough. As the Sun-Times’ Natasha Korekci pointed out over the weekend, Rauner’s camp has been less than open about its actions, both before the election and since. BGA investigators have had their own struggles trying to get basic answers from Rauner’s camp.

We hope that changes with Rauner-the-governor, starting right now.

We expect open communication from the governor himself, not just emails from his press staff. We expect Freedom of Information Act responses that err on the side of disclosure. And considering Rauner’s personal fortune, we expect full transparency on any and all potential conflicts of interest.

When we tell people we work at the BGA, the response usually goes something like this: “Oh, I’ll bet you never run out of stuff to investigate. Good for job security, huh?”

We’re government watchdogs, but we’re also taxpayers in Illinois. We want good government in Illinois, and we believe it’s something that really can happen.

Let’s hope four years from now, we’ll be closer to good government than ever in Illinois.

And while we’re at it, let’s hope the Bears are in the middle of another deep playoff run.

All of that isn’t too much to ask for, is it?

This blog entry was written by the Better Government Association’s Patrick McCraney. He can be reached at, (815) 483-1612 and @patrickmccraney on Twitter.