A press release from State Senator Dan Duffy:
Dixon $30 million theft prompts Sens. Duffy to call for government checkbooks to be online
Lawmaker says transparency could have prevented theft from city
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (May 1, 2012) – Following allegations that a Dixon city official stole $30 million from city coffers, State Sens. Dan Duffy is calling for legislation that would require local governments in Illinois to post their checkbooks online.
Senate Bill 3392 would require all local governments – including school boards, townships and municipalities – to post their checkbooks online. The state senators say it’s possible that the alleged theft could have been flagged earlier if the public had access to this vital information.
“These accusations highlight why it’s so important for Illinois to move forward on government transparency,” said Sen. Duffy, R-Lake Barrington.
“If you look at the city of Dixon’s website, there is almost no financial information available to the public. Without filing onerous Freedom of Information Act requests, the public had no mechanism for holding its city officials accountable or investigating the finances themselves.”
The Illinois Policy Institute supports this legislation and greater efforts by Sen. Duffy and others to improve the level of government transparency in Illinois.
Since 2010, the nonpartisan Institute has partnered with local citizen activists to grade governments on how much public information is available online. More than 130 government entities have been graded using the Institute’s 10-Point Transparency Checklist.
The city of Dixon received a failing grade on the Institute’s audit, scoring only 18.1 out of 100 possible points. In addition to having no budget or financial information available on the city’s website, there also is no information outlining how to file a Freedom of Information Request, how much government employees are paid or tax information.
“After seeing how little public information is available on Dixon’s website, it’s no surprise that the alleged theft went under the radar for so long,” said Brian Costin, director of government reform at the Illinois Policy Institute. “What Dixon and the entire state must do now is create a culture of transparency and accountability. This will help weed out corruption, and restore the public’s faith in local government.”