The Illinois Associated Press Media Editors and Illinois Press Association last week honored some of the journalism produced by the staff of the Belleville News-Democrat. We’re proud of our people, but rather than tooting our own horn we’d like to take a moment to offer thanks to those who blow the whistle.
Almost every significant investigation undertaken by this news organization begins with someone seeing something wrong and telling us about it.
They see a city clerk using public accounts for personal expenses. They see the mayor pressuring others to get free loads of fill dirt. They see obscene amounts being charged on a taxpayer-supported credit card for gasoline, travel and hardware store purchases that serve no public purpose.
The public, those people footing the bills, needs to know these things, and to have enough context to know whether the public official and those surrounding the person are being truthful, are misunderstood, are making excuses or are just lying to cover their corruption.
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And after that information is out there, the hope is that people will safeguard their tax dollars, elect those who will, pass laws to fix things or the courts will work and send criminals to jail.
Too often people in power let the line between right and wrong get blurred. They feel their sacrifices make them entitled or worse, they think no one is watching.
So here’s to the whistleblowers who were watching. They saw something, said something and own a piece of a plaque or two.