The letter on March from Mary Ballard, M.D., states that council member (Darrel) Dickson stepped out of his boundaries and that he had no business investigating anything without the permission of the mayor, the city council and the other council members. That is wrong.
Since Dickson did not claim to be representing the council, he as an individual member had every right to do as he did. Dr. Ballard is not entitled to set such boundaries for council member Dickson, or for me, or for any other person except perhaps for her underage children, if she has any. The mayor and city attorney have apologized, as they should have, for asserting that Dickson misrepresented himself or behaved improperly.
Dr. Ballard seems not to have learned very much from her exposure to Chicago politics. I’m now in my 80s and I long ago lost count of the many scandals perpetuated by that city’s leaders. If ever a place needed to be open to constant scrutiny and investigation, it is Chicago.
Years ago, in another area, I was a United Way board member. We members spent long hours apportioning the yearly take among the various charities and every year the annual report said that everything was fine. The executive director of one of those charities complained to me that they had not received the right amount and he asked me to look into it. I did and, without the permission which I did not need, I discovered the executive director of our United Way was sharing out the money as he wished rather than as the board directed. The largest shares were going to the director’s two favorite charities and all the others were being shortchanged. It had been going on for years. We members put an end to it and to the executive’s career.
Later, as a housing authority commissioner in another county, we discovered that public records had been improperly withheld. It takes watchfulness and investigation to nip abuses in the bud.
Council members or board members who take the trouble to dig out the facts are doing their jobs much better than those who don’t bother to look The letter writer’s analogy with the ship and its captain is a poor one. On a ship the captain’s word is law thought it is a poor captain who doesn’t recognize some limitations. A mayor’s word is not law and, to her credit, our mayor realized that and apologized for her initial inappropriate reaction.
That government can and must be open to scrutiny, criticism and investigation is the very bedrock of our representative republican government. Our founding fathers instituted our Bill of Rights for this very purpose. A government which is not open to scrutiny and investigation is not just in danger of dictatorship but is already on the way to becoming one.
I’m pleased to see that our local government is alive and well and functioning as it should. I hope that our council members continue to question and investigate as it is both their right and their duty.