DuPage Co. (ECWd) -
DuPage County Chairman Dan Cronin has promoted the ACT Initiative, which stands for Accountability, Consolidation, Transparency.
"At the County, we have embarked upon a comprehensive local government reform initiative to revitalize our County appointed agencies that deliver vital public services. With your help, we have asked more than 75 new people to assume leadership roles as part of our Citizen Service Team. After conducting an agency-by-agency analysis we launched the DuPage ACT Initiative (Accountability-Consolidation-Transparency) to set basic expectations for these appointed bodies. As a result of the ACT Initiative, I am pleased to report that agencies have taken action to reform internal policies governing ethics, procurement and credit cards to name a few. These steps have created greater accountability and oversight for taxpayers. Many agencies have implemented and continue to explore shared service and joint purchasing opportunities that reduce duplication and generate cost savings."
I must admit, it sounds great! In fact, the next paragraph from the ACT Initiative is the one that really got my attention.
"DuPage County believes that sunshine is fundamental to government operations, and for that reason, we have created the ACT Transparency Portal. This portal is designed to better inform taxpayers about the local service agencies that work for them."
When I saw the list of public bodies that he appoints the board for I thought we would test the waters on that first prong of the ACT Initiative, Accountability. We found that the sunshine the County speaks to as being fundamental to government operations is, in fact, true. Dan Cronin appoints members to 39 public bodies in DuPage county. Those public bodies are all subject to the Illinois Open Meetings Act (OMA) and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
I turned on the sunshine by submitting an FOIA request to all 39. All I can say is, never underestimate the value of filing an FOIA to a public body! My request was for nothing more than the OMA and FOIA training certificates for those making up the boards of those 39 County appointed seats. I asked for those because that training lays the foundation for those people to know how to properly be accountable to the public when it comes to Open Meetings and Freedom of Information.
Of those 39 public bodies, 15 of them never even responded to the FOIA request.
Of those that did respond, there were only 6 that had complied with the mandated training for OMA and FOIA and actually responded within the guidelines of the law.
So basically, we had 33 public bodies appointed by Dan Cronin that violated OMA and FOIA.
Those violations were anything from not having done the required training to not properly responding to the requests.
So you ask, how is the sunshine fundamental to government when we had so many that completely failed the public? A simple request (sunshine) brought 12 of those 39 public bodies into compliance with their mandated FOIA and OMA training. It always amazes me to see training certificates that post-date the FOIA request date.
So now, simply filing a FOIA request to those public bodies, DuPage County has at least 12 of them under the appointing authority of Dan Cronin that understands the most basic level of accountability to the law.........assuming they actually did the training and didn't pawn it off on the secretary in the office.
We will continue to update this information in dedicated articles as some of the responses we received from these public bodies are worthy of sharing. In short, you can't make this stuff up!
As a teaser, this was an actual response from one of the public bodies regarding their legally mandated training.
"Although we were created under the Illinois Statutes as a municipal governmental entity, we actually administer a federally funded program under the US Department of Housing and Urban Development that does not utilize state funds, nor is Commissioner certification training required…"
For those that simply don't know, any public body created under Illinois Statutes are required to comply with the legally mandated OMA and FOIA training, regardless of the funding source they administer. How on earth those people came up with the conclusion the legally mandated training was not required is beyond me.
With only 6 out of 39 public bodies being compliant with the OMA and FOIA obligations, I would say the ACT Initiative gets an "F" for Accountability as it relates to these appointed members complying with the law.
For those 6 that were in compliance, we would like to say, thank you and keep up the Accountability to the law that you took seriously when you accepted those appointments.
- DuPage Board of Review
- Fox Valley Park District
- Highland Hills Sanitary District
- Lisle-Woodridge Fire Protection District
- West Chicago Mosquito Abatement District
- Wheaton Sanitary District
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