Friday, May 2, 2014

State government under investigation? I’d be more concerned if it wasn’t

Anybody who pays any serious interest to the details of how governments operates comes to a quick realization – somebody is always suing the government.

Does Bruce Rauner envision Thompson and Bilandic building employees 'dropping dimes' on Pat Quinn left-and-right?
For that matter, the idea that a law enforcement entity is studying the details of some particular project is also something that happens quite often.

IT IS WHY I don’t get that excited about stories that say government is being sued. Or that government is under investigation.

I get intrigued when it turns out that government loses a lawsuit. Or that an investigation has reached the point where someone winds up being hit with some sort of criminal charge.

I’m not into looking the other way when something improper is done by a government official, or with dollars generated from tax revenues. I’m just not into getting prematurely worked up over something that might fizzle out.

Which seems to be a way in which I differ from Republican gubernatorial hopeful Bruce Rauner – who is trying to get us all to believe that the administration of his Nov. 4 opponent (Gov. Pat Quinn) is somehow unique in terms of the amount of investigations now taking place.

I REALIZE IT’S a political campaign, and Rauner wants us all to have as negative an image of Quinn and the governor wants us to regard the venture capitalist who wants to use his personal funds to buy the political post (or perhaps I should say rent for a four-year term).
RAUNER: Offering us a hot-line?

But the telephone hotline created by the Rauner campaign so that people can call in tips about allegedly-illegal activity by Quinn and his allies is just too over the top.

Particularly the part where Rauner campaign flunkies stood outside the Thompson Center state government building Thursday in hopes of getting state workers on their lunch breaks to think about what personal dirt they might have heard about Quinn.

Personally, I think they’d be more successful if they appealed to state government employees in the most rural parts of Illinois. But what they really want is to give the impression that they’re somehow connected to law-and-order. Which usually means they go over the top!
QUINN: Under investigation???

I DON’T SENSE that the Quinn administration is somehow engaging state government in more improper activity than any other public official did.

Even though in recent days there have been news reports concerning the fact that Quinn’s attorneys admit the state’s inspector general is looking into claims of patronage hiring at the Illinois Department of Transportation.

There’s also the fact that the Chicago Sun-Times reported about subpoenas being issued as part of an investigation by the Cook County state’s attorney’s office into an anti-violence program that went awry.

Federal government officials, including Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., also have said they’d like an investigation to see if stimulus funds meant to jolt the national economy got used instead to hire people locally for political reasons.


But I would fully expect that if we do get the concept of “Gov. Bruce Rauner” someday, it will produce its own share of allegations that we can’t even envision yet. There’s a degree to which it is in human nature, even those who get involved in government work.

Which is why I think the idea of Rauner’s corruption hot-line comes across as pompous – even by campaign-stunt standards. It’s not limited to any one official. Nobody is above it all.

Actually, I think I’d be more uncomfortable if we didn’t have constant stories about improper activity being investigated. Because it means that somebody is paying attention to what is taking place – and that somebody who thinks they can ‘get away with it’ probably won’t!

I ALWAYS WONDER if the most “corrupt” behavior takes place in the most obscure governments where the lack of public interest means that nobody is looking.

Having a toll-free hotline number (look it up yourself, if you really care to make a call) isn’t going to make our state anymore honest.


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