Twenty years ago this month--on August 8, 1988, to be exact--the Chicago Cubs attempted to play their first-ever night game at Wrigley Field. Mother Nature was apparently a silent member of Citizens United for Baseball in Sunshine (CUBS), the scrappy neighborhood group demanding "no lights" at Wrigley, because rain started to fall during the fourth inning--and the umpire called the game two hours later. As a longtime leader of CUBS, I joined my neighbors in protesting that stormy night, but the Cubs played a full game under the lights the following evening, as they have done 18 times a year ever since. Without the sustained illumination of the issue that our protests and activism provided, the Cubs might be playing dozens and dozens of night games a year....and the harm of such intense, unrelenting activity to the surrounding neighborhood would be almost incalculable. (I suppose I *might* be ok with a few more night games this year if the Cubs....well, you all know what I'm referring to, I'd better not risk a jinx.)
I'm a longtime believer in the old adage that sunlight is the best disinfectant, particularly in politics. Since I joined the Cook County Board in 1998, I've tried to illuminate the outdated practices, blind acceptance of the status quo, and improper political influence over hiring and contracting that have historically defined Cook County government--and to propose remedies. County government performs valuable services--administering our legal system, ensuring public safety, providing safety-net health care to those most in need, maintaining the Forest Preserves as a natural legacy for future generations, and many other vital tasks--but like businesses, families, and other governments in the 21st century, we need to make every dollar stretch as far as we possibly can and to think creatively how to provide those important public services.
It can be hard to remember as scandal after scandal engulfs the County--and just weeks after a whopping, unnecessary sales tax increase took effect--but over the past 10 years I and other commissioners have won important victories fighting off other tax increases and reining in wasteful spending. We'll continue to try and try again, but we need the support of the public, the news media, and the blogosphere (welcome to Chicago, Huffington Post!) to illuminate those dark corners where business-as-usual dwells and to force Cook County to change. I'll be your eyes and ears and will post here as often as I can, but be sure to visit the 5th floor of the County Building sometime for yourselves. County Board meetings are the second best show in town--almost as good as a day game at Wrigley.