April 12, 2011

State's auditor general to speak at SIUC

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- William G. Holland, Illinois’ auditor general, will provide insight into the state’s troubled financial situation when he visits Southern Illinois University Carbondale later this month.

The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute will also honor Holland, whose service to Illinois dates nearly four decades, with the Ralph A. Dunn Public Service Award. Holland will deliver the Dunn Lecture on State Government at 7 p.m., Tuesday, April 19, in the Student Center ballrooms.

Admission is free, and the public is welcome. The lecture will also be available via live stream for free on the Institute’s website, paulsimoninstitute.org/.

The Ralph A. Dunn Award honors the former Du Quoin businessman and Republican state legislator who served 22 years in the Illinois General Assembly. Dunn died in 2004 at the age of 90.

This is the fourth Dunn Public Service Award since the late U.S. Sen. Paul Simon, Institute founder, established the honor in 2003. Dunn, Paula Wolff, chair of the Illinois Tollway Board of Directors and a senior executive with Chicago Metropolis Strategies, and former Illinois state Rep. Arthur L. Turner, D-Chicago, are previous recipients.

David Yepsen, Institute director, said he’s excited about Holland’s visit for two reasons: the “good example” Holland sets as a public servant, and the expertise in state budgets and finances that Holland brings. The state’s financial and budget situations are critical issues to both Illinois and SIUC, Yepsen said.

“Bill Holland’s career represents what is good about public service to Illinois,” Yepsen said. “At a time when so many people in the state hold public officials in such low regard, it is worth focusing on those who do things honorably and well. Respect for public officials will rise when more of them conduct themselves the way Bill Holland has during his career.

“I’m grateful to Mr. Holland for coming to campus because students who want to pursue careers in public service and politics would do well to use him as a role model,” Yepsen said.

Holland’s visit is part of the Institute’s continuing focus on questions surrounding the federal and state debt.

“People need to understand how Illinois got into the financial trouble it is in and Mr. Holland can help us with that,” Yepsen said.

Yepsen said it is important to note how Holland has the respect of both political parties. From 1983 to 1992, Holland was chief of staff for then-Senate president Philip J. Rock, and known for working well with Republicans. The General Assembly picked Holland to be the state’s second auditor general in 1992; he earned unanimous appointment to a second 10-year term in 2002.

Holland began in government as a legislative intern with the Illinois House majority staff in 1974, and he earned appointment as director of the Illinois House Majority Appropriations Committee staff in 1976. In 1980, he became the first director of the General Assembly’s Washington, D.C., office.

Holland’s unanimous reappointment as auditor general in 2002 is testament “to his professional, non-partisan and thorough approach to auditing how state funds are spent,” Yepsen said.

“He was among the first state officials to call attention to mismanagement in the Blagojevich administration,” Yepsen said, referring to impeached former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

As auditor general, Holland holds the state accountable for its use and management of public funds. He also reviews the state’s management practices that range from the effectiveness of accounting systems to public safety matters such as timely bridge inspections, according to the Institute.

For more information on the program, contact the Institute at 618/453-4009, or visit paulsimoninstitute.org/.