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OUR VIEW: No to JB's lack of transparency

OUR VIEW: No to JB's lack of transparency

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State: COVID-19 has killed more than 10,000 Illinoisans

Gov. J.B. Pritzker appears at a news conference in Springfield Sept. 21.

One of the reasons lack of transparency is so irritating? Without it, you're left to assume whatever you wish regarding any decision or how it was made. Speculation leads to suspecting the worst, up to and including corruption and conspiracy.

Earlier this year, the Big Ten Conference called off its football season due to concerns over COVID-19. The conference announced a revised 10-game schedule on Aug. 5, and six days later, Big Ten presidents and chancellors voted to postpone all fall sports. The Pac-12 Conference did the same. On Aug. 19, the conference reiterated the postponement. Protests ensued, along with lawsuits and threats of more. Politicians, including President Trump, got involved. On Sept. 16, the conference announced it was starting the season on Oct. 23.

What changed? Who knows? The conference was vague in its explanations about any of the decisions. The potential explanations included a change in testing methods and a desire to avoid losing millions of dollars in broadcasting contracts, and everything in between.

Illinois, along with most of the world, is battling a second wave of COVID-19. Gov. J.B. Pritzker has reacted in the way he's reacted throughout the pandemic -- authoritatively and ostensibly with the interest of public health at heart.

But there's trouble when the attitude evolves from authoritative to authoritarian. We don't share the aggravation and anger felt by many of those over Pritzker's announcement, but we understand it, just as we are uncertain what's going to happen. At the end of October, Pritzker annouced the high school winter sports season would be put on hold for an undetermined time. The Illinois High School Association, which oversees state high school sports, met Wednesday and backed down a bit. They said their plans for going their own way were not intended to be adversarial, rather a pleas for direct communication.

Some restaurant owners are feeling the same way as the IHSA first appeared -- defiant. As COVID-19 cases have risen, Pritzker has reinstitued some of his restrictions from earlier in the year, including targeting restaurants around the state. Angry restaurant owners are responding with complaints, lawsuits, and some are defying the order altogether.

Defending Pritzker would be easier if he seemed willing to work through his concerns by talking with someone. But all indications are Pritzker is making decisions on his own after receiving information from medical people. What advice? Well, there we are, back at the Big Ten Conference's decision. No transparency, who knows?

There's scant evidence that open restaurants have led to any of the increases in COVID-19 positives. There's plenty of evidence that restaurateurs have invested extensively to meet state regulations and allegations that Pritzker is singling out a high-profile industry. There's also evidence some restaurant owners are and will ignore the order. It's difficult to blame them. The majority of illnesses are being traced to nursing homes, assisted living centers and social gatherings at home.

Pritzker led wisely at the first strike of COVID-19. But much has been learned in the eight months since. The key balance that needs to be struck is one between the economy and public health. If we're going to side with the governor, he needs to pull back the curtain on his decision making.

When cities acknowledge they don't have the personnel or the inclination to follow the governor's orders, all government bodies are left open to doubt. Pritzker needs to re-think his strategies.

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