Greising: A ‘Paper Tiger’ Legislative Watchdog Isn’t Good Enough

One person in Illinois has the power to bring much-needed strength to the legislative inspector general's office: Gov. J.B. Pritzker. Yet Pritzker has refused to exercise that power.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is congratulated by lawmakers after delivering his first budget address to a joint session of the llinois House and Senate at the Illinois State Capitol on February 20, 2019 in Springfield, Illinois. (Jason Wambsgans/Pool/Getty Images)

BGA President David Greising writes every other week for the Chicago Tribune Opinion section.

Rarely does Chicago get cited as an example of best practices. When the chance arises, it’s best not to miss it.

So here goes: The city of Chicago may have the most powerful inspector general of any government in Illinois.

That’s right. The office held by Joe Ferguson operates without interference from the mayor’s office and the City Council. It is robustly funded — to the tune of $11 million this year. Its staff of more than 100 employees can launch investigations, issue subpoenas and publish findings at will.

Ferguson, since his appointment by Mayor Richard M. Daley in 2009, has uncovered corruption involving red-light cameras, exposed the police cover-up of Laquan McDonald’s shooting and detailed the racially biased workings of the Chicago Police Department’s gang database. Ferguson’s investigators also found ineptitude and failed leadership in the city’s response to last summer’s disturbances following the murder of George Floyd.

Read more at the chicagotribune.com.