Daley needs transparency lesson

By Editorial Board

Mayor Richard M. Daley is at it again. In his typical gruff, abrasive and unapproachable manner, Daley has refused requests by Chicago aldermen to release the list of projects he intends to complete with money from the new federal stimulus package.

Across the nation, nearly every local leader has released a detailed list of intended projects. Although Daley has mentioned a few priorities, including improvement to 200 Chicago public schools, increased broadband access and new funding for police, the mayor has repeatedly refused to provide any additional details. Blaming his secrecy, in part, on the media, Daley said he would be criticized by the press if he released the list.

But criticism from the media has not caused Daley to shy away from controversial decisions in the past, and his silence about this plan is ridiculous and uncalled for. In his refusal to release the list based on his so-called fear of the press, he is practically asking the media to crucify him.

At a time when Illinois has been plagued by scandals and corruption, the mayor needs to remain true to the commitment of transparency in government. Right now, more than ever, Chicago residents need to believe they can trust Daley and his administration.

For years, Daley has had a tight reign on the city, and few have questioned him. But the time has come for aldermen and taxpayers to speak up and question his unruly tactics. Fifty of Chicago’s 54 aldermen have requested the list from the mayor, to no avail. Daley may be the mayor of Chicago, but he needs to remember he does not own the city. Taxpayers have a right to know the administration’s plans. They deserve to know where their money is going and how it is being spent.

If Daley has nothing to hide, then he should take no issue with releasing his project wish list. Allowing the public to hear plans and voice their concerns is vital. If Daley has suddenly become so afraid of media criticism that it is interfering with his communication with aldermen and taxpayers, maybe it is time for him to reassess whether he is fit for his position. His role is to serve the public, but the public is not well served with secrecy.