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

  • Fighting public corruption — over lunch

    Lunch is a lot more than a midday meal when you run a nonprofit watchdog organization like the Better Government Association. In our world it’s an important opportunity to explain our mission to potential supporters. And once a year, in the fall, we invite our …Read More

  • Gov’s race spirals into fantasyland

    One of television’s hottest dramas is playing out daily right here in Illinois. No, it’s not “The Good Wife,” “Shameless” or “Chicago Fire,” and “Breaking Bad” isn’t coming back with a Windy City setting. I’m talking about the rock `m sock `m, neck-and-neck race for …Read More

  • Runway flap brewing at Chicago Executive Airport in northwest suburbs

    With O’Hare Airport expansion well underway, one runway battle is over, but now another is brewing in the northwest suburbs, where a study is being done that could result in expansion at Chicago Executive Airport, the former Palwaukee Municipal Airport.

  • Time to grade mayor’s performance

    Where does the time go? It’s been more than three years since we sat down with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to review the promises and progress of his first 100 days in office in an interview that was broadcast live on the Better Government Association’s …

  • CPS hiding records from the BGA and you

    Public schools have several FOIA exemptions — certain personnel and student performance information, for example — but most of their records are also our records. And when someone submits a FOIA request, the public agency generally has five business days to comply. But CPS regularly breaks the rules.

  • Pension crisis spilling over into suburbs

    Unless you’ve been living in the Deep Tunnel, you’ve probably heard the State of Illinois is facing a daunting public employee pension crisis, and Chicago — mainly its schools and municipal government — is tiptoeing around similar fiscal land mines that could blow up in the faces of retirees and taxpayers.

    The Watchdogs: Big profits for Pritzkers, Daley pal Jack Higgins on costly Chicago FBI deal

    THE WATCHDOGS: When the government was seeking a new Chicago FBI headquarters, it gave the deal to Jack Higgins — a friend of then-Mayor Richard M. Daley. Higgins brought in Penny Pritzker, who would go on to be a top campaign fund-raiser for President Barack Obama and is now his secretary of commerce. The $125 million FBI complex turned out to be a profitable venture for the Pritzker family and Higgins but not as good a deal for taxpayers.

    Straight answers from Quinn and Rauner hard to come by

    “What did the president know, and when did he know it?” That famous question, posed by Sen. Howard Baker during 1973 congressional hearings on the Nixon administration’s Watergate scandal, has been asked of political leaders embroiled in crises for the four-plus decades since then. The …

    Enough with all the Inspector Clouseaus

    Inspector General or Inspector Clouseau? Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference. The former is a title for a job that, done right, shines a bright enough light on a government agency and holds enough of its public officials accountable to increase honestly, efficiency, transparency …

    The hidden lessons from closing 50 schools

    The scrap heap of Illinois history is piled high with long-forgotten government reports. Many of them deserve their fade into tattered obscurity, but occasionally a research effort merits a bright spotlight. And that’s the case with an incisive, hard-hitting task force study — released in …

    Don’t let animal care go to the dogs

    We had a dog when I was growing up, a spaniel named Toby that was sweet, frisky and a little neurotic, like the rest of the family. Dogs also populated our entertainment world, including “Lassie” and “Rin Tin Tin” on their weekly TV shows, Snoopy …

    Springfield, here we come

    The Capitol in Springfield is where elected officials allocate most of our state tax dollars, make major decisions that affect our lives, and manage a government wracked with chronic fiscal and ethical problems. Springfield is also a small media market where, despite hard work and …

    We never beg — we sue

    One of my favorite TV shows in the ‘80s was the “People’s Court,” where average citizens argued small cases in front of feisty Judge Joseph Wapner. The show inspired an entire genre of quasi-real courtroom programs that continue to populate the airwaves today with the …

    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.