Every holiday has its unique rituals and traditions.

Some celebrate religious days, others mark historical events, several memorialize our nation’s founders and protectors, one welcomes a jolly fat man in a red suit, another a bunny with a basket, and finally, at the end of the year, we turn the page.

New Year is my favorite because it’s about turning the page—looking back at ups and downs of the just-completed year and hoping there’ve been more of the former than the latter—and looking ahead at a new, pristine calendar, its empty pages filled with endless possibilities and, of course, unavoidable pitfalls.

At an anti-corruption watchdog organization like the Better Government Association, where we shine a light on public officials and hold them accountable, we measure the past year by looking at our investigations and transparency lawsuits, their impact, and civic engagement—our ongoing efforts to inform and educate regular citizens.

We conducted 122 investigations in 2015. These are some of our top ones:

We can also point to 19 reforms or tangible results from our investigations and policy initiatives.  Here are a few:

On the transparency front we filed a dozen lawsuits against government offices that stonewalled our document requests, including the Emanuel and Rauner administrations.  We’re now getting many of the records we asked for.

The BGA also hosted monthly civic engagement activities, including:

Finally, we had the privilege of contributing weekly columns on good government issues to the Sun-Times, and weekly commentary on radio and television stations in Chicago and Springfield.

As Sinatra sang, “It was a very good year.” 

Regrets?  We’ve had a few.

–Failing, along with everyone else, to cajole state lawmakers and the governor to compromise on spending, taxes and reforms.

–Not pushing city officials aggressively enough to confront their troubled police department before the Laquan McDonald tragedy forced the issue.

–Not convincing more government officials to put the public interest ahead of self-interest.   

But it’s a new year.  And we’re on it.  Because good government is what you deserve in exchange for your hard-earned tax dollars, and good government is our mission.

So from all of us at the BGA to all of you readers, supporters and occasional detractors: Have a Happy and Healthy New Year.

We’ve turned the page.