Wanted: Scout with keen pencil

Illinois Auditor General William Holland is retiring Dec. 31, and we — the residents of Illinois — all likely owe him a card and maybe flowers.

His job, simply stated, is to keep those in state government honest by employing integrity, a hard nose and a team of accountants.

He is the guy who took aim at the state’s workers’ compensation system after the News-Democrat’s investigation of 230 Menard Correctional Center employees, mostly guards, who got $10 million by claiming ailments including wrist ouchies from turning cell door locks.

He is the guy who audited former Gov. Pat Quinn’s use of the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative and showed the money was going to questionable sources and sprinkling dollars where votes were needed. The revelations of that audit were a big part of why we now have a new governor.

This is the guy who uncovered more than $546,650 in tax dollar abuses by convicted Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who used the state’s purchasing system to wine, dine and pay for parking at Bulls games.

The Blagojevich audit in 2005 led to the biggest confrontation and pushback of Holland’s 23 years leading the auditor’s office. Blags called the findings illogical, but they all proved to be true.

If you judge a man by the enemies he makes, “Hot Rod” Blagojevich alone renders Holland as worthy.

So the low-key defender of your tax dollar recently called his second press conference since he took office in 1992 — the first was to defend the Blagojevich findings. At age 63, he wants to spend more time with family.

We wish him well. We offer our sincere thanks to a true servant of the public good. We hope the new person is as upright as Holland.