At first glance, the issue of Illinois special taxing districts doesn't seem like fodder for edgy comedy.
But John Oliver, host of the acclaimed HBO comedy news show Last Week Tonight, devoted a generous, 15-minute segment of Sunday's show to that very topic. And despite Oliver's disclaimer acknowledging his unlikely subject at the top of the piece -- "Hello to the people watching for the first time because of our Trump piece, and also I presume, goodbye" -- the segment was both hilarious and highly informative.
I had especially high hopes for this one after being contacted by a "Last Week Tonight" researcher on Saturday about a video on the Reboot Illinois YouTube channel in which Gov. Bruce Rauner and Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti announced the findings and recommendations of a task force looking for ways to reduce Illinois' nearly 7,000 government bodies, which is the highest number in the nation by far.
Our video didn't make the final cut, but Illinois did.
"When special districts have only one job, it makes it all the more noticeable when things go wrong," Oliver said as a segue into the plight of Evergreen Park and Cook County's many mosquito abatement districts. (It starts at 8:50 in the video above).
While not dealing extensively with Illinois, the piece shows the biggest problem with small taxing districts: Some can be so small that they lack oversight and, despite their obscurity, they often are responsible for large chunks of taxpayer dollars.
Enjoy the video. It's unlikely you'll find this topic in this context again anywhere. Then take a look at the findings of the Illinois task force. The extreme cases highlighted by Oliver in other states could be playing out right now in some tiny government unit somewhere here in the Land of Lincoln.