To the Editor:
Citizens of the 25th District probably disagree about state income taxes, the Illiana expressway, or ways to solve the state’s pension problems. However, most would oppose more secrecy in any branch of government. Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie has a bill that would do just that as discussed in a Tribune editorial on last Wednesday. Her proposal would make it easier for state agencies to keep secret reasons for denying freedom of information requests. If citizens go to court to obtain documents and the agency produces records before the judge rules, the citizen will be stuck with court costs. Now, citizens can often recover court costs if a lawsuit is required to obtain documents. Altogether, this bill does nothing except shield the actions of our legislators from public view.
I wrote Rep. Currie and telephoned her local office to urge her to withdraw this ill-advised legislation. Her office representative told me that she made the proposal at the request of Senate president John Cullerton. Is there any doubt that most of what happens in the Illinois legislature occurs at the behest or at least with the support of Speaker Mike Madigan and Cullerton, aided by Rep. Currie as majority leader? Instead of shielding Springfield’s actions more completely from the public, our legislators should be working with Gov.-elect Rauner to search for ways out of the state’s severe fiscal crisis. Let us lobby our representatives and senators to embrace transparency as we grapple with our financial challenges.
Alfred L. Baker, M. D.