Not long after the Chicago City Council’s April 24 Zoom meeting adjourned, Mayor Lori Lightfoot called it “democracy in action.”
In the heat of the moment, though, Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza, 10th, described the raucous and sometimes chaotic event a bit more candidly. “This is a total s— show,” she said.
Winston Churchill often is credited for describing democracy as “the worst form of government, except for all the other forms.” In a similar vein, virtual video meetings of legislative bodies are the worst way for governments to meet. Unless, of course, the alternative is no meeting at all.
The “no meetings” option is what the Illinois legislature has embraced so far. It’s a high-risk, high-cost choice that abdicates the General Assembly’s obligation to do the people’s business.
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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.
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