July 20, 2013
App allows Searchable Spending for all levels of Government
July 20, 2013. Elmhurst, IL. Illinois is said to have the most corrupt elected officials in America. But because of that, the state also boasts some of the most passionate and effective corruption-busters in the country. One of those is Adam Andrzejewski and his grassroots organization Open The Books. Thanks to their efforts, itemized government spending is now at the fingertips of Americans for the first time ever.
App lets users search itemized spending for all levels of government. Image courtesy of For the Good of Illinois.
For the Good of Illinois
Your author has been covering Adam Andrzejewski for a few years now, mostly through our past local Chicago affiliate. But now, the former Gubernatorial candidate has rocked the political landscape on a national level.
Over the past five or six years, For the Good of Illinois has led a fight to publicly release the spending details of every single level of government in Illinois. And after seemingly insurmountable obstacles, they’ve had a 100% success rate. Citizens can literally see how every single penny of their government’s spending is carried out – who’s getting paid, how much, how often, and for what. Now, Andrzejewski and For the Good of Illinois have released an app, as well as an online searchable database, that shows people how the federal government is spending their money.
As stated on the group’s website, their mission statement is as simple as, ‘We educate, engage and empower citizens to demand a transparent, accountable and smart government in Illinois and across America.’ With their new website and smart phone app, already #3 at the App Store, they’ve taken that project across the country.
Open The Books
Open The Books is the name given to the website and mobile app that allows individuals to search the government’s checkbook, either nationally or by state or municipality, to see exactly how each and every cent is being spent. This reporter watched first-hand for two years as For the Good of Illinois publicly demanded that the City of Chicago, the County of Cook, and the State of Illinois turn over their spending history. First insisting the task was impossible, all three entities eventually capitulated.
This new searchable database and app called Open The Books is the largest publicly available source of government spending of its kind. The website describes the project and mobile app saying, ‘Open The Books is a project of For The Good of Illinois, Inc., a 501(c)4 non-partisan, non-profit organization founded in 2007 by Adam Andrzejewski.”Open The Books” has become a national rallying cry for transparency in public spending. As US Senator Everett Dirksen said, “When I feel the heat, I see the light.” With courtesy and respect, citizens should hold their elected officials accountable.’
The searchable online database and mobile app have already made an impact all the way in Washington DC. US Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), one of the Senate’s most vocal critics of wasteful government spending, was obviously impressed. Adam Andrzejewski explained, “Recently, while demonstrating our Open The Books app for US Senator Tom Coburn and staff, they told me that previous to 2006 they had to search Google to find wasteful spending stories from local newspapers.”
Visit the Open The Books website at OpenTheBooks.com.
A few examples
Andrzejewski uses his own local hometown of Hinsdale, Illinois to demonstrate the surprising, shocking and outrageous spending being exposed by the Open The Books app. Below are just a few of the spending details the grassroots organization’s founder found when he searched his own zip code:
- $1.5 million in taxpayer subsidized loans to the local Lamborghini auto dealer
- $3.65 million to the local Rolex jeweler
- $860,000 to a local high-end beauty salon
- $840,000 to a local aesthetic enhancement business
- $540,000 to the developer of high-end million dollar condominiums
“The news shouldn’t be left wing or right wing, conservative or liberal. It should be the news. It should be independent” – Mark Wachtler, Whiteout Press founder
The shocking payments found in just one town’s checkbook is nothing compared to what one finds when a thorough search is done of an entire state. Open The Books did just that in their home of Illinois. That search of other towns and cities throughout the state turned up a treasure trove of questionable government spending. Just some of the items they found were:
- 47 Village Managers out-earn every Governor of the 50 States. The highest paid is a village manager of small Grayslake at $251,152.
- Occupying our state pension system are private employers like the Illinois Association of Park Districts (Peter Murphy, $322,444), and the Park District Risk Management Association (Brett Davis, $297,901). Taxpayers have no control over the salaries, but pay for the pensions.
- The school district treasurer of Bloom Township made $213,301, and the treasurer of Thornton Township made $200,489 while he also runs his own certified public accounting firm, Eugene Varnado, LLC.
- In 2012, school treasurer Mohsin Dada double-dipped pension systems for over $440,000: a current salary of $203,903 and a retirement pension of $240,000. His pension is so high because of a massive salary spike from $156,160 to $358,750.
- In 2012, local park district administrators out-earned the State Director of Parks: Mount Prospect $215,626 (up from $105,000 in 2000) and Addison $212,572 (up from $74,999 in 2001).
- Thomas A. Morris – the General Counsel of Waukegan School Dist. 60 – pocketed $229,665 while also practicing law since 1996 for downtown Chicago law firm Hinshaw & Culbertson, LLP.
- Dennis Gianopolus received nearly $260,000 while simultaneously working as the General Counsel of Calumet City, Prosecutor for Chicago Heights, and running his own law firm.
Keep in mind, these are just some of the expenses from one town and one state. Readers can only imagine the kinds of questionable purchases, loans and business deals that will be found in the multi-trillion-dollar federal budget. Also, demonstrating they’re not stopping there, Open The Books has just announced that their database now links with social media. Readers can first search for and find wasteful spending, then post it straight to Facebook, Twitter and others.
For readers that would like to search the itemized spending of their own town, county, state, or even the federal government, visit OpenTheBooks.com.
For more information on For the Good of Illinois, visit the organization’s website at ForTheGoodOfIllinois.org.
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