Rarely does Chicago get cited as an example of best practices. When the chance arises, it’s best not to miss it.
So here goes: The city of Chicago may have the most powerful inspector general of any government in Illinois.
That’s right. The office held by Joe Ferguson operates without interference from the mayor’s office and the City Council. It is robustly funded — to the tune of $11 million this year. Its staff of more than 100 employees can launch investigations, issue subpoenas and publish findings at will.
Ferguson, since his appointment by Mayor Richard M. Daley in 2009, has uncovered corruption involving red-light cameras, exposed the police cover-up of Laquan McDonald’s shooting and detailed the racially biased workings of the Chicago Police Department’s gang database. Ferguson’s investigators also found ineptitude and failed leadership in the city’s response to last summer’s disturbances following the murder of George Floyd.
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.