When Ald. Tom Tunney, 44th, got caught sneaking customers into Ann Sather, the landmark restaurant he owns on Belmont Avenue, he called it an “error in judgment.” The city called it a violation of new COVID-19 restrictions, and Tunney now faces up to $10,500 in fines.

When the Illinois Veterans Home in LaSalle failed to apply proper safety rules to protect military veterans and staff at the home, 32 veterans died. The administrator, Angela Mehlbrech, got fired and a state investigation is underway.

The two cases are symptomatic of a pathology of ineptitude and indifference on the part of some public officials in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The penalties represent the kind of no-nonsense enforcement that needs to be more common if we ever hope to beat the disease.

In the state’s battle against the coronavirus, Gov. J.B. Pritzker and his COVID-19-fighting colleague Dr. Ngozi Ezike of the Illinois Department of Public Health have provided effective leadership. But too many public officials and too much private resistance have subverted the effort. Pritzker needs to ignore the pushback and trust his impulse to continue cracking down.   

Read more at chicagotribune.com.

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.