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Andy Shaw Biography

Andy Shaw is an award-winning Chicago journalist, and president and CEO of the Better Government Association . The BGA is a nonprofit and nonpartisan watchdog …Read More

 

More Columns

Enough with all the Inspector Clouseaus

Inspector General or Inspector Clouseau? Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference. The former is a title for a job that, done right, shines a bright enough light on a government agency and holds enough of its public officials accountable to increase honestly, efficiency, transparency …

The hidden lessons from closing 50 schools

The scrap heap of Illinois history is piled high with long-forgotten government reports. Many of them deserve their fade into tattered obscurity, but occasionally a research effort merits a bright spotlight. And that’s the case with an incisive, hard-hitting task force study — released in …

Don’t let animal care go to the dogs

We had a dog when I was growing up, a spaniel named Toby that was sweet, frisky and a little neurotic, like the rest of the family. Dogs also populated our entertainment world, including “Lassie” and “Rin Tin Tin” on their weekly TV shows, Snoopy …

Springfield, here we come

The Capitol in Springfield is where elected officials allocate most of our state tax dollars, make major decisions that affect our lives, and manage a government wracked with chronic fiscal and ethical problems. Springfield is also a small media market where, despite hard work and …

We never beg — we sue

One of my favorite TV shows in the ‘80s was the “People’s Court,” where average citizens argued small cases in front of feisty Judge Joseph Wapner. The show inspired an entire genre of quasi-real courtroom programs that continue to populate the airwaves today with the …

Doomsday Clock ticks for Illinois

Remember the ominous “Doomsday Clock” with its symbolic “countdown” to a global disaster like nuclear war, and more recently, climate change? The clock concept dates back to University of Chicago researchers whose work during World War II led to development of the first atomic bomb. …

‘Crash tax’ a troubling jolt for distressed drivers

One of our jobs at the Better Government Association is to look for warning signs that suggest trouble may be on the way. And with that in mind, I point to a recent BGA investigation that sounds the alarm at a number of Chicago-area fire …

Single step on long road to City Council ethics reform

The Emanuel administration apparently made enough progress in wringing illegal politics out of hiring, firing and promotions at City Hall to finally shed the yoke of a court-appointed monitor who’s been policing personnel decisions for the past decade. Ending the federally mandated oversight, which cost …

Let’s hear it for citizen’s arrest of a county board

Board members were stunned by the brazen act, and even more so when the sheriff arrived to sort out the mess and sided with the crowd — agreeing board members had violated the law by not allowing public comment.

McPier taking you for a ride

There’s a new attraction at Navy Pier — “The Big Spin” — and we’re not talking about a Ferris wheel that goes around at $7 a pop. This is a verbal fantasy ride, courtesy of Navy Pier officials, but we’re not hopping on, and you …

Lindblom High: A South Side success story

A dramatic story is unfolding on Chicago’s South Side, but it’s not the one we’re most familiar with — the heartbreaking gang violence that terrorizes residents of all ages and traumatizes entire neighborhoods. This is a good news story about something that’s going right, and …

Hits and misses in Springfield’s game

The Illinois General Assembly’s action, and inaction, resembles a grab bag gift, or the prize at the bottom of a Cracker Jack box — you never know what you’re going to get or whether you’ll like it. So it’s no surprise that when the curtain …

Andy Shaw: Lobbying by ex-U.S. rep doesn’t violate law, just our trust

Former Congressman Jerry Costello provides another example of why “revolving door” lobbying restrictions need to be tightened at every level, from local city councils to the nation’s capitol.

Keep shining light on government

Here’s a big watchdog shout-out to the Illinois Supreme Court, and to Attorney General Lisa Madigan for supporting the good guys in this legal dispute.

Let’s squeeze bloated school districts

Bad habits can be infectious, which may explain why Cook County government’s well-earned reputation for wasteful spending, bloated bureaucracy and resistance to change has spilled over to the county’s independent school districts. A recent Better Government Association investigation with CBS 2 found that some superintendents …

5th anniversary of anti-corruption campaign isn’t cause for celebration

This spring marks the fifth anniversary of a valiant campaign to eliminate the “culture of corruption” that’s ripped off Illinois taxpayers and citizens for decades. Sadly, it’s not a celebration because it didn’t produce enough government reform. But it’s worth remembering because it’s still an …

Lisa Madigan’s silent treatment

Between the brutal winters and the endless corruption, Illinois residents aren’t feeling much love for the Land of Lincoln these days. In a recent Gallup poll, only 28 percent said they trust our state government — by far the worst no-confidence vote in the country. …