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A generational gap at play

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012 10:47 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012 10:48 a.m. CDT

Lee County Board member John Ferrone, R-Dixon, has opinions, and he's not shy about letting people know what they are.

That's refreshing. We cover so many boards where most members go along to get along.

Over the last couple of months, Ferrone has been attacking the Illinois Policy Institute, a conservative group that pushes for greater government transparency.

It has given Lee County, among others in the area, a low score for transparency on its website. The institute's website survey upset Ferrone. He questioned why the county should put so much information on its website. People should go to the courthouse if they wanted more, he said.

"Transparency is a lot of Mickey Mouse," he said at a committee meeting.

We reported his statements.

At a meeting last week, board member Tom Demmer, R-Dixon, took great exception to Ferrone's comments, without ever mentioning his colleague by name.

He said the statements "undermined the credibility of the board." And he said the county shouldn't stand in the way of letting the public get information.

What sets Demmer apart from the other 27 members? At 26, he's the youngest – by more than 10 years.

Is it any coincidence that the youngest member stood up to Ferrone's views on transparency? Probably not.

Demmer, who is running for state representative, doesn't deal in paper. He lives by his iPad and smartphone. He's told me that's how he gets nearly all of his information.

That's similar to how many twenty-somethings operate.

In an interview earlier this year, Ferrone declined to give his age, but I'm betting, he's at least in his 50s or 60s.

A generational gap is at play here. Increasingly, the old way of doing things is no longer sufficient.

In 1992, telling people to go to the courthouse to see public documents may have been acceptable.

Now, such a procedure seems quaint at best and annoying at worst.

Sauk Valley Media reporter David Giuliani covers the Whiteside and Lee county governments, Morrison and other smaller communities. He can be reached at dgiuliani@saukvalley or at 800-798-4085, ext. 525.

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