Photo of Laurence Msall (Cook County Assessor's Office Facebook)

Most anyone can be a critic. To rise above criticism — and become the public conscience of a city and state — now that takes some doing.

A voice of conscience touches on morality and responsibility, purpose and character. It underscores the obligation we all have, especially in the public arena, to pursue what’s right and strive to avoid what’s wrong.

Laurence Msall fit that definition to a capital “C.” C as in conscience and C as in the first letter in the name of the city he so loved.

Over more than two decades as leader of the Civic Federation, critiquing budgets, pensions, debt issues and policy proposals, Msall set the standard for analysis and forecasting. And he did so with such unwavering conviction, insight and sense of fairness that he earned a place of influence and honor in Chicago’s civic conversation.


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.