By: Mark Glennon*
A legislative panel in Springfield last week held hearings on whether the state should authorize its cities, towns and other municipalities to file for Federal bankruptcy protection. It’s no stretch to say that legislation to do that, and the form it takes, might turn out to be the most important economic decision in the modern history of the state. How much press coverage did the hearings get? Zip. Nothing in the regular media. We do, however, have some information about what was said in this piece from an alternative source, the Illinois News Network.
Would Chicago be authorized to file? How about cities that have already said they need it, like Rockford? Will the legislation require appointment of an emergency manager, as Michigan did with Detroit? Who selects that manager? What other conditions might be attached to the bill? How about alternatives to bankruptcy, which the Civic Federation has evidently suggested? Answers to those questions and many others may have an extraordinary impact on troubled cities across the state, and heavily influence how much pensioners will get, future taxes, levels of social services, termination of collective bargaining agreements and much more. What’s the excuse for not reporting whether those questions were raised and what the witnesses said?
Illinois media has been entirely AWOL on the subject of bankruptcy for Illinois municipalities. Only one article of any substance has been published — a very good one from the BGA in the Sun-Times last year.
The bright spot for the media was exposing the facts that led to Congressman Aaron Schock’s resignation last week. Great reminder of why we need a diligent press corps. Chalk up that one to it for finding the misspending that led to his departure.
*Mark Glennon is founder of WirePoints. Opionions expressed are his own.