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Governor Pat Quinn, Juvenile Justice

Illinois AFSCME Council 31 to Pat Quinn on Refusing WBEZ Access to St. Charles Juvenile Prison: “… [A]n unacceptable breach of the public’s right to know”


(Chicago, IL) — December 11, 2009. Just ahead of Illinois AFSCME Council 31’s endorsement decision in the Illinois 2010  Democratic primary for governor, the state’s largest union is taking a swipe at Governor Pat Quinn‘s refusal to open up Illinois juvenile justice centers in St. Charles and elsewhere to WBEZ radio reporter Rob Wildeboer.

“The Quinn administration inherited a juvenile justice system in disarray,” said executive director Henry Bayer in a statement.

“It’s disappointing that it has not acted to address its problems over the past year. Its refusal to allow the news media to visit the St. Charles youth center is a troubling red flag and an unacceptable breach of the public’s right to know.”

Ouch.

Bayer added:

“In fact, youth centers and adult prisons alike have been underfunded, short-staffed, mismanaged and neglected for years. AFSCME members on the front lines are striving to safely incarcerate and rehabilitate youth and adult offenders despite these most trying circumstances.

“Our union will work with any member of the news media, any advocate and any concerned lawmaker to share the real harm done to the juvenile justice system by the state’s broken budget and management neglect. We call on the Quinn administration to join us in this commitment to openness and accountability.”

You just know Comptroller Dan Hynes‘ communications direct Matt McGrath is sharpening his knives.

Quinn’s spokesman, Bob Reed, responded with the mother of all statement restraint: “As always, we respect AFSCME’s opinion.” No gusty blast of return hot air there. It’s actually pretty funny in an understated sort of way.

Still, what’s up with Quinn’s policy folks?

Open the facilities to the media. Whatever problems they find, blame them on Rod Blagojevich. During his tenure, Blagojevich had shut Quinn out of decision-making. No one can legitimately fault Quinn for earlier mismanagement. He had no part in it. But Quinn can certainly be faulted for trying to hide “it”–if there is an “it” to hide–now. Goofy.

This is politics and good government 101. Transparency.

Good grief, Quinn is running on “transparency”, but his Administration decides to deny access to the St. Charles juvenile prison to the liberal, public radio station WBEZ. How screwed up is that? Are they expecting a better shake from WLS radio?

Let’em in.

About David Ormsby

David, a public relations consultant and Huffington Post blogger, is an ex-Press Secretary of the Illinois Democratic Party.

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David Ormsby, Editor

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