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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

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 …

Put super-sized state government on diet

The Illinois primary is history, and sadly, also historic — a record low voter turnout in the Chicago area of less than 20 percent — in part because nearly 80 percent of the non-judicial races were uncontested, and a lack of competition apparently produced a …

Readers explain why people don’t vote

Last week’s column on civic “disengagement” — my term for the millions of Illinois residents who aren’t registered to vote in Tuesday’s primary, or won’t bother to cast a ballot even if they are eligible —prompted interesting emails from readers who are definitely engaged. One …

Get ready for another miserable voter turnout

America’s first National Voter Registration Day came and went last September with the visibility and impact of a gnat on an elephant’s back. The admirable goal of the organizers was to use rallies, teach-ins and celebrity media spots and appearances to highlight the little-known fact …

Sounding alarm on Fire Department weaknesses

The Chicago Fire Department is a city agency the Better Government Association watches closely, and with good reason — emergency work saves lives when it’s done well, and imperils them when it’s not. Our latest investigation of the CFD, which looked at lengthy ambulance response …