In the dark.
Sometimes it seems that is just how the politicians, who are supposed to be representing us, want us to remain, right?
I mean, really, what else can you conclude from the video escapades of ABC-7 investigative reporter Chuck Goudie and House Speaker Michael J. Madigan last week.
This was one of those silly, little gotcha stories that is starting to take on a life of its own.
First, we learned last week from Gov. Pat Quinn that Madigan doesn't carry a cell phone. Now, governor, if you really were interested in helping drive Madigan and your other fellow Democrat, Senate President John Cullerton, to a solution on our pension crisis, then you wouldn't be distracting all of us by creating bad press for Madigan by pointing out the most powerful man in state government doesn't use a cell phone.
I digress. But that's probably how Goudie got the cute idea to try to play his own version of "Where's Waldo?" (You know what? If he wore horn-rimmed glasses and a hat, Madigan would be a dead ringer for Waldo, wouldn't he?)
I digress again! So, Goudie catches the Speaker arriving home and tries to greet him at his car, but like a high-school prankster, Madigan drives off just as Goudie reaches the car door. Next, Goudie and camera guy try to catch the Speaker at his district office and narrate an entertaining clip where you can see Madigan's workers silhouetted in door frames behind locked doors clearly talking about the annoying camera crew on the other side and what should be done about them.
Eventually, the most powerful man in state government attempts to sneak out the back down some stairs with a fence protecting him from the persistent reporter who just wanted to ask a few questions about the pension crisis stalemate. Or maybe he just wanted to ask, incredulously, "Do you really not own a cell phone, Mr. Speaker?!"
As my colleague, Reboot Executive Editor Matt Dietrich noted, would it have really hurt to have stopped and answered a couple of questions for Goudie? Or, more likely, would it have been such a big deal to say a few words that didn't really answer the questions asked since there remained no willingness to move toward compromise on the pension crisis?
But Madigan wouldn't speak. And these are the kinds of games that have gone on for years. At some point, enough Illinois citizens will reach a tipping point and declare they're not going to take it anymore. Will enough of the people in Madigan's district ever reach that tipping point? Well, that's a whole other equation as the Speaker clearly has picked his voters and held that seat for 42 years now.
The most damning and disturbing piece of the Goudie "Where's Mike?" installment was the part of the clip where he shows one of Madigan's constituents trying to get into the office. Her toddler son tries to help her by pounding on the door, to no avail. Goudie intones that several constituents were treated thusly.
In the dark.
Madigan isn't alone. Many of our elected legislators do not provide email addresses on the public government website of the Illinois General Assembly. Many of them don't allow comments or correspondence on their social media accounts, if they have them, and not all do.
Believe me, I can understand the temptation of not publishing your email address having drowned under the waves of too many emails to reply to plenty of times, but c'mon, that's part of the job. You're a public official. You're supposed to be answerable to us. We pay your salaries.
In the dark.
This week, we launched a new venture with our friends at the non-partisan, number crunching Truth in Accounting organization. They crunched some numbers for us, we spiffed it up and present it to you here.
And what do we learn from this first infographic with Truth in Accounting? We're in the dark. Nearly a year after the last fiscal year ended in June 2012, Illinois still hasn't filed its required annual financial report, making it impossible to know if the state continues its despicable practice of spending more than it collects in revenue.
We get the government we let our officials get away with. It's our government. Whadya say? Let's demand out of the darkness and into the light of a new day.
Follow Madeleine Doubek on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@mdoubek