We’re Entitled To Open, Honest Government


Yesterday, Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown wrote about former Chicago Alderman Arenda Troutman’s guilty plea in connection with the federal corruption charges against her for soliciting bribes from people doing business with the City of Chicago. (“What Troutman will get out of her guilty plea,” Aug. 7).

You may remember Troutman for her quote, which allegedly was recorded by the feds: ”Most politicians are hos.”  “Ho,” as in people of loose moral standards who sell themselves for money or other favors.

We’re not sure exactly how accurate Ms. Troutman’s assessment of those people who make a career out of politics might be, although we’re not inclined to strongly disagree with her.  That would be hard to do, given all of the successful criminal prosecutions of state, county and City of Chicago politicians and their henchmen over the years.

In his column, Brown went on to describe how “[b]ribes are for chumps like Troutman” because the sharpest, most experienced politicians have more subtle ways of doing business with the people who are interested in pay-to-play government, and don’t ever really have to ask for the favors they are interested in giving out:

“[P]olitician-lawyers get rich on legal fees, which of course are entirely legal, not at all like bribes, or what would be the use of having a legal degree? Or real estate business is steered to a politician’s relative, or insurance, if that’s the family’s game. Nobody ever need mention doing this for that, the quid pro quo that can get a conviction.”

We are entitled to honest, open, transparent and accountable government.  But we have to demand it – regularly, consistently and uncompromisingly – from our public officials at every level. 

So the next time our City Council, School Board or Park Board members duck into another closed session, or circulate “confidential” memos among themselves, or negotiate sweetheart deals with their friends or campaign contributors, or just do something that doesn’t make sense to us, we are entitled to ask: “Who’s getting what, and why?”