In today’s Daily Herald, there is an article about how DuPage County Board Chairman Robert Schillerstrom—one of the county’s most powerful Republicans—is using his Democratic ties to enrich his private law practice on bond deals while awarding allies of Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley and Gov. Rod Blagojevich taxpayer-funded lobbying contracts.
The article by Herald political writer Eric Krol can be found here: http://www.dailyherald.com/search/searchstory.asp?id=332747
Addressing the questionable intersection of public and private interests raised by the article, Bob Peickert, Chair of Operation: Turn DuPage Blue, sees the revelations about Schillerstrom as representing another example of what happens when one-party controls government.
“I find it interesting that Republicans constantly criticize the State Democrats, but are always there with their hands out when money is involved. You don’t deal with a $40 million budget deficit by handing out unnecessary political contracts,” commented Peickert. “And Schillerstrom wants home-rule in DuPage County so that he has more tax dollars at his disposal for unnecessary lobbyist and PR work. How do these contracts help the taxpayers in DuPage?”
In the article, DuPage County State’s Attorney Joe Birkett is quoted as saying he found the situation “troublesome.” And that “it’s the type of story that is going to attract scrutiny.”
Peickert considers this response both tepid and bothersome, especially in light of the ongoing charges against war protesters Jeff Zurawski and Sarah Hartfield (http://www.dailyherald.com/search/searchstory.asp?id=332190)
“Joe Birkett’s office jumped on the Zurawski case, but his only reaction to this is that it’s “troublesome”. If that’s all he has to say, DuPage is in big trouble.”
Peickert believes Schillerstrom owes the taxpayers a full explanation as to the lobbying and public relations contracts. “Chairman Schillerstrom needs to fully explain his rationale for handing out what appear to be politically motivated and duplicative contracts. He needs to explain why these are necessary in light of budgetary problems. Then let the taxpayers decide.”
Reiterating his call for a 2-party system of government in DuPage County, Peickert concluded, “This would not happen if both Democrats and Republicans sat on the county board. When one party has total control, the system fails. The Republicans act like watchdogs in Springfield, but they will defend their turf in DuPage County and don’t want any Democrats “snooping” around.
“It's time to do something about it, and that is why Operation: Turn DuPage Blue exists.”