Fanning the Flames: The Freedom Project Blog


Sunshine: The Great Disinfectant

By Shawn Healy
In my post last Wednesday titled "Cook County Wars," I reviewed a paper written by UIC Political Science Professor Dick Simpson and graduate student Tom Kelly. Their work was inspired by the relative dearth of information specific to roll call votes by the Cook County Board of Commissioners.

This morning, I received a phone call from Courtney Greve, spokeswoman for the Cook County Clerk, and she told me that her office is working to improve this data deficit. Although Greve did not receive significant negative feedback on this front, the Clerk's office was in the process of updating their web site, and will begin by posting minutes from Commissioners meetings starting today. My quick perusal of the site suggests that they are off to a good start as today's agenda is posted.

Greve said that web site visitors will be able to access minutes from past meetings, and promises a more user-friedly format moving forward. This will include information by date and a common phrase to describe the primary subject discussed at a meeting, such as video slot machines, for example. Roll call vote tallies will be posted here, too.

However, one caveat is in order: minutes from board meetings cannot be posted immediately. The commissioners themselves have the authority by law to review agendas and minutes after the fact, so eager residents will have a wait a few days afterward for the juicy details.


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Managing Director

McCormick Freedom Project

Shawn is responsible for overseeing and managing the operations associated with the McCormick Freedom Project. Additionally, he serves as the in house content expert and voice of museum through public speaking and original scholarship. Before joining the Freedom Project, he taught American Government, Economics, American History, and Chicago History at Community High School in West Chicago, IL and Sheboygan North High School in Wisconsin.

Shawn is a doctoral candidate within the Political Science Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago where he received his MA in Political Science. He is a 2001 James Madison Fellow from the State of Wisconsin and holds a bachelor's degree in Political Science, History, and Secondary Education from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

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About Fanning the Flames and the McCormick Freedom Project

Fanning the Flames is a blog of the McCormick Freedom Project, which was started in 2006 by museum managing director Shawn Healy. The blog highlights the news of the day, in hopes of engaging readers in dialogue about freedom issues. Any views or opinions expressed on this blog represent those of the writers alone and do not represent an official opinion of the McCormick Freedom Project.

Founded in 2005, the McCormick Freedom Project is part of the McCormick Foundation. The Freedom Project’s mission is to enable informed and engaged participation in our democracy by demonstrating the relevance of the First Amendment and the role it plays in the ongoing struggle to define and defend freedom. The museum offers programs and resources for teachers, students, and the general public.

First Amendment journalism initiative

The Freedom Project recently launched a new reporting initiative with professional journalists Tim McNulty and Jamie Loo. The goal is to expand and promote the benefits of lifelong civic engagement among citizens of all ages, through original reporting, commentary and news aggregation on First Amendment and freedom issues. Please visit the McCormick Freedom Project's news Web site, The Post-Exchange at

Dave Anderson
Vice President of Civic Programs
McCormick Foundation

Tim McNulty
Senior Journalist
McCormick Freedom Project

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