Last week, my colleagues Ben Joravsky and Mick Dumke wrote about their adventures obtaining evidence of the city’s oversight of the Republic Windows & Doors TIF. They filed a FOIA request, and the city was kind enough to send their documentation – all five pages of it, the only five pages documenting any oversight of a ten-year, $10 million deal.

Yesterday, the Sun-Times ran an outstanding piece about our mayor’s 62 out-of-town trips over the course of 47 months. They requested documentation, and were told by City Hall (emphasis mine): “In response to a Freedom of Information Act request, the city Law Department simply supplied a list of the trips and who paid for them. City Hall has said it does not maintain records of trips not funded by the city and that it would take too long to compile bills from taxpayer-funded trips.”

Ben and Mick, not coincidentally, have been following the progress of the TIF transparency bill. The last update (again, emphasis mine):

“‘We’ve gathered quite a bit of information here today, and I think we have a lot of loose ends to tie up with our law department, and I think we’ve heard some recommendations from other aldermen, so we’re going to hold this,’ said 39th Ward alderman Margaret Laurino, chairman of the council’s Committee on Economic, Capital and Technology Development, which held the meeting in conjuntion with the Committee on Finance. Laurino, who said she liked the intent of the proposal but had concerns about the cost and logistics, offered no timetable for when it would be considered again.”

Let me get this straight:

1. Oversight is too expensive.

2. Transparency is too expensive.

3. Transparency about a lack of oversight: now that’s a bargain!

Your reaction is probably something like, “that’s stupid.” But as Ben put it in Government for Nothing: “In the meantime, we’ll just play dumb and pretend… that Mayor Daley is the one all-powerful financial wizard in the universe who’s figured out how to run government for free.”