The BGA’s Role in Equity and Reform

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The Better Government Association’s mission is transparency, efficiency and accountability in government. Even in typical times in Chicago and across Illinois, that’s a tall challenge. Today—with questions of equity and structural discrimination seared into our consciousness—the goal of our work is more relevant than ever.

In today’s context, transparency means the ability to track down records of police abuse and environmental discrimination. Efficiency means effectively focusing government resources—development money, TIF funds and more—to South and West Side communities long starved of government investment. Accountability means standing up to the powerful interests that shape a system too often stacked against Black and Latino people, vulnerable populations and people with disabilities.

For nearly 100 years, the BGA has stood up, dug in and fought back.

In recent work, we have published stories about CHA residents trapped in broken-down elevators; tallied the huge costs of police abuse settlements; investigated the suburbanization of poverty in Dolton, Ill., and uncovered government carelessness in the botched demolition of the Crawford coal plant in Little Village. At a time when some politicians are seeking to limit voting rights, our policy team is fighting to protect healthy and ready access to the ballot, whether in person or by mail. We supported a successful lawsuit to prevent destruction of Chicago police disciplinary records and defeated an effort to suspend the state’s Freedom of Information Act during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Today, the BGA recognizes the importance of this historic moment. We are committed to doing more.

The BGA is starting inside and reaching outside. We need to strengthen diversity in our own workplace. We will seek deeper partnerships with authentic community voices. Working together, we can focus the tools of accountability on the neighborhoods and people most affected by failures of government. Through these steps and others, the BGA will seek to discover, understand and expose how government disproportionately fails Black and Latino people in Chicago and across the state.

At this time of daunting challenge—and great potential for reform—we pledge to seek and demand better government, for all of the people of Chicago and across Illinois.