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COMMENTARY:

Thinking About Transparency

by Fred Cederholm
I’m all for transparency, but we also need an honest and up-front quantification, prioritization, and accountability. The “Bama Transparency” is beginning to look like more and more of what we in Illinois know as a “Blago Blitz.” (I sincerely hope not!)
I’ve been thinking about transparency. Actually I’ve been thinking about openness in government, the Illinois Governor, the Obama bailout putsch, how much bailout is really needed, pork/earmarks, and returns to the trough. Transparency is the hot new buzzword in the post 2008 elections. It suggests that the public has a right to watch the decision making process in the open, what options are being considered, and why they are both effective and important. This would be an admirable step in the right direction were it not for the fact that real transparency also puts forth flaws in the logic behind the “deciding” – warts and all. It is but a small step from seeing what politicians are doing, to seeing thru their ploys, games, and scams!

You see the coming week is shaping up to be a rare smorgasbord of treats for the news junkies, the political groupies, and concerned citizens of all shapes, sizes, and persuasions. The unfolding spectacle of both the Illinois and the national travails are shaping up to be quite a double feature. The commencement of an impeachment trial of any sitting Governor would be national news story, but leave it to the media one-ups-man-ship of Rod Blagojevich to grand stand it to the next level of hyperbole.

While his trial for “conduct unbecoming” as the Prairie State’s Chief Executive began in the Illinois Senate this Monday at twelve noon in the Capitol Building, Rod was a no show. He was boycotting the event and he had taken his act on the road to New York City for guest appearances on Good Morning America, The View, and Larry King Live. This was so typical “Blago.” Since he began his tenure as “the Guv,” he has refused to live in the Governor’s mansion and serve the people of Illinois in the State Capitol – choosing rather to govern from his satellite office in Chicago. He only stages media events and press conferences in the Capitol, shuttling back and forth in a private executive plane which has cost the Illinois taxpayers MILLIONS. He is known for his “great pie in the sky programs” for which he never proposes any funding. These have a have a snowflake’s chance in Hell of realization in a state that has struggled to pass a workable budget since he took office! It is so easy to watch “Guv Blago,” and cynically question political foibles/models elsewhere.

This Illinois cynicism can clearly carry over to the Obama Administration’s “transparent” efforts to get a bailout package out the door. Their urgent desire to “do something immediately regardless of cost,” causes one to seriously question both the motivation AND the methodology. Throwing money at a problem is a long standing (and very costly) Washington DC tradition. In the waning months of the prior Bush administration, a couple TRILLION of bailout remedies were channeled thru Congress, the US Treasury, and the FED; but to what success?

Has the direness of our financial, economic, and monetary situations improved? Unfortunately... not one iota! The initial $700 BILLION in bailout bucks dubbed “TARP “needed to be greased with an additional $150 BILLION of pork projects and earmarks to get it thru Congress. There was no accountability/ tracking for the first $350 BILLION and the second $350 BILLION appears headed for the same Wall Street recipients while the Main Street needy are told to be patient and keep waiting! We know that a couple of TRILLION has not been enough to stem the tide. We still don’t know if the magic number is ten TRILLION, a hundred TRILLION, or more?

Thus far, AIG, GM, Chrysler, Ford, CITI, B of A, Merrill Lynch, Fannie, Freddie, and sundry other investment (commercial and retail) banks have sought to feast at Uncle $ugar’s trough. In numerous cases, they have not received all their earmarked (or appropriated) bailouts only to now return to seek even more from the public coffers! I’m all for transparency, but we also need an honest and up-front quantification, prioritization, and accountability. The “Bama Transparency” is beginning to look like more and more of what we in Illinois know as a “Blago Blitz.” (I sincerely hope not!)

I’m Fred Cederholm and I’ve been thinking. You should be thinking, too.


Copyright 2008 Questions, Inc. All rights reserved. Fred Cederholm is a CPA/CFE, a forensic accountant, and writer. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois (B.A., M.A. and M.A.S.). He can be reached at asklet@rochelle.net. –

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This story was published on january 26, 2009.