bga

Andy Shaw Biography

Andy Shaw is an award-winning Chicago journalist, and president and CEO of the Better Government Association . The BGA is a nonprofit and nonpartisan watchdog …Read More

 

More Columns

Doomsday Clock ticks for Illinois

Remember the ominous “Doomsday Clock” with its symbolic “countdown” to a global disaster like nuclear war, and more recently, climate change? The clock concept dates back to University of Chicago researchers whose work during World War II led to development of the first atomic bomb. …

‘Crash tax’ a troubling jolt for distressed drivers

One of our jobs at the Better Government Association is to look for warning signs that suggest trouble may be on the way. And with that in mind, I point to a recent BGA investigation that sounds the alarm at a number of Chicago-area fire …

Single step on long road to City Council ethics reform

The Emanuel administration apparently made enough progress in wringing illegal politics out of hiring, firing and promotions at City Hall to finally shed the yoke of a court-appointed monitor who’s been policing personnel decisions for the past decade. Ending the federally mandated oversight, which cost …

Let’s hear it for citizen’s arrest of a county board

Board members were stunned by the brazen act, and even more so when the sheriff arrived to sort out the mess and sided with the crowd — agreeing board members had violated the law by not allowing public comment.

McPier taking you for a ride

There’s a new attraction at Navy Pier — “The Big Spin” — and we’re not talking about a Ferris wheel that goes around at $7 a pop. This is a verbal fantasy ride, courtesy of Navy Pier officials, but we’re not hopping on, and you …

Lindblom High: A South Side success story

A dramatic story is unfolding on Chicago’s South Side, but it’s not the one we’re most familiar with — the heartbreaking gang violence that terrorizes residents of all ages and traumatizes entire neighborhoods. This is a good news story about something that’s going right, and …

Hits and misses in Springfield’s game

The Illinois General Assembly’s action, and inaction, resembles a grab bag gift, or the prize at the bottom of a Cracker Jack box — you never know what you’re going to get or whether you’ll like it. So it’s no surprise that when the curtain …

Andy Shaw: Lobbying by ex-U.S. rep doesn’t violate law, just our trust

Former Congressman Jerry Costello provides another example of why “revolving door” lobbying restrictions need to be tightened at every level, from local city councils to the nation’s capitol.

Keep shining light on government

Here’s a big watchdog shout-out to the Illinois Supreme Court, and to Attorney General Lisa Madigan for supporting the good guys in this legal dispute.

Let’s squeeze bloated school districts

Bad habits can be infectious, which may explain why Cook County government’s well-earned reputation for wasteful spending, bloated bureaucracy and resistance to change has spilled over to the county’s independent school districts. A recent Better Government Association investigation with CBS 2 found that some superintendents …

5th anniversary of anti-corruption campaign isn’t cause for celebration

This spring marks the fifth anniversary of a valiant campaign to eliminate the “culture of corruption” that’s ripped off Illinois taxpayers and citizens for decades. Sadly, it’s not a celebration because it didn’t produce enough government reform. But it’s worth remembering because it’s still an …

Lisa Madigan’s silent treatment

Between the brutal winters and the endless corruption, Illinois residents aren’t feeling much love for the Land of Lincoln these days. In a recent Gallup poll, only 28 percent said they trust our state government — by far the worst no-confidence vote in the country. …

Patronage abuse bipartisan in Illinois

Those of us who’ve spent our professional lives reporting on the patronage abuses of local Democratic machine bosses, and covering attorney Michael Shakman’s long legal battle to curb them, tend to forget the problem is not unique to Chicago and Cook County. Republicans politicize hiring, …

No substitute for serious news coverage

This is how Rachel Maddow introduced a guest on her nightly cable news show in January: “Any time you see a story on national TV that starts in a small town, odds are the story began with local reporters who would not give up, and …

Illinois morbidly obese with thousands of governments

The Illinois legislature’s “diet doctor” is asking his fattest patients to swallow a bitter streamlining pill and, as you might expect, the Rx is meeting a lot of resistance. I’m talking about Rep. Jack Franks’ attempt to downsize a public sector that’s morbidly obese. Illinois, …

Crime victims deserve voice on police torture commission

It’s been more than three decades since one of Chicago’s most brutal murders. On an August night in 1983, two men entered a West Rogers Park home through a window, murdered Dean Pueschel, and raped and murdered his wife, JoEllen Heinrich Pueschel. Their 11-year-old son, …

Want to hear about term limits? Here’s your chance

A few months after I joined the Better Government Association in 2009, one of our most civically and politically engaged board members, Chicago lawyer Scott Hodes, urged me to make the issue of term limits for elected officials in Illinois a cause célèbre for the …