As any gardener knows, the middle of July is that pivotal time when we need to pull the weeds or risk letting them strangle what’s left for the remainder of the summer.

The challenge is not all that different on the good-government beat. The bustle of legislative activity in Illinois has slowed, but the threats to a healthy and productive government are still there.

The trouble with weeds, in government as in gardening, is that they almost never completely die. The forces of waste, ineptitude or corruption — whether in plain sight or deep beneath the surface — can be costly and destructive.

Look no further than Macomb, home of Western Illinois University, where a college president was allowed to step down with a rich payout, despite a record of poor performance.

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David Greising is the president and chief executive of the Better Government Association, joining the BGA in 2018. For nearly a century, the BGA has fought for honest and effective government through investigative journalism and policy advocacy.

Greising’s career started at the City News Bureau of Chicago, with stops at the Chicago Sun-Times, Business Week magazine, the Chicago Tribune and Reuters. He was a co-founder of the Chicago News Cooperative and worked briefly as a consultant to World Business Chicago. Today, Greising writes on government issues in regular columns for the Tribune and Crain’s Chicago Business.

Under Greising’s leadership, the BGA has played a key role in uncovering public corruption amidst the wide-ranging federal probe, starting with an in-depth report about Ald. Ed Burke’s conflicts of interest before the federal charges against Burke. The BGA also has exposed waste and fraud at O’Hare and the proliferation of corruption and poverty into Dolton, Lyons and other Chicago suburbs. The BGA’s policy team has led calls for ethics reform in Chicago’s City Council and in state government.