SPRINGFIELD — The city of Dixon is suing the firm that audits its books because it failed to notice that $53 million was missing.That’s nice.
But what about the platoon of former mayors and city council members who served during the 20 years that this alleged embezzlement took place?Is anyone holding them responsible?
At the end of the day, aren’t they, and not some auditor they hired, responsible?
Rita Crundwell, Dixon’s comptroller, has pleaded innocent to a wire fraud charge alleging she stole from the city to pay for a lavish lifestyle and creation of a horse-breeding operation. Federal authorities say she stole tens of millions of dollars.
Didn’t anyone on the city council ever wonder how she was able to live this lavish lifestyle?
I’ve covered city councils, school boards, county boards and legislatures in five states and many, many cities during the last 25 years.The one thing elected officials in all of those places had in common is they were too deferential to the bureaucrats.
Among most folks elected, there is a mindset of go along to get along.We elect them to lead and instead they chose passivity.
There are exceptions to this. I’ve known some engaged elected officials who questioned the bureaucrats at every turn.But they get labeled as “cranks” by their peers because they made meetings go long or asked questions that the others couldn’t understand.
But, to be honest, many of those serving on city councils, boards and legislatures are as sharp as a sponge.The late columnist Molly Ivins had a term for such elected folk: furniture.
They sit there and do nothing but nod their heads when the city administrator, party boss or department head or— whoever is herding the sheep that particular daytells them what to do.
Don’t we deserve better?
Public employee unions just don’t get it.
A good case in point is what is happening in our state’s largest city.
It seems Chicago public school teachers want a 30-percent pay raise over the next two years— not just the best teachers,but every one of them regardless of performance.
And here is the kicker: 91 percent of teachers voting in the union election authorized a strike, knowing full well what their union is demanding and that their school district is facing a deficit of $700 million.
Before you start singing the song of the poor, underpaid teacher, keep in mind that according to the state of Illinois, the average Chicago teacher makes $71,000 per year.And if they get what they are asking for that average salary would climb somewhere to the north of $92,000.
For those of us who work in the private sector, we know it takes a lot of courage to ask the boss for a raise.Have you ever asked the boss for a 30 percent raise? Me neither.
I was chatting the other day with Paul Kersey, who is the Illinois Policy Institute’s director of labor policy.His take was pretty simple: Public-employee unions are oblivious to economic realities.
He may be right.But are they oblivious to political realities?
One need only look north to Wisconsin to see what happens when voters get fed up.