September 11, 2013

“What dumb ass signed off on this?”  If the the state was like a corporation its CEO would have that email in his face from everybody on his board of directors the morning after the papers first ran the story that $670,000 was spent on new capitol building doors. In a properly run larger company the CEO would probably answer something like,  “I’ll find out and get back to you within the hour.” And when that answer came back the board would likely get to the really important question: “And what dumb ass authorized him?”


We ought to know by now who had line item authority on the capitol renovation. More importantly, we ought to know who authorized somebody who lacked both the financial and political judgement to nix it. We don’t know and we may never know, and that’s the problem: There’s no sensible, transparent line of accountability for signing the checks in Springfield.


Governor Quinn and everybody below him who reporters have asked deny responsibility.  In a cosmetic sense Quinn and the top guys are probably right — I doubt they reviewed line items down to this level.  But somebody should have and Quinn ought to be able to determine rapidly if somebody did, and who.  The architect has been the only one talking so far.  But, according to reports, he did not act alone in making decisions about the renovation. According to the Springfield Journal Register, he “reports to the four legislative caucuses, and the state’s Capital Development Board, overseen by the governor, also has responsibility for the project.”  Who knows what that means? Quinn ultimately is responsible for being able to provide answers. He cannot.


“Running government like a business” sometimes sounds cliche. But is it too much to expect that Springfield have a transparent, sensible line of authority in place for writing checks?


Mark Glennon