Misty Buscher, candidate for Springfield mayor, held a press conference on Thursday to address the issue of the city's debt forgiveness practices. The conference came after an article in the Illinois Times revealed that local attorney, and Democratic Precinct Committeeperson, George Petrilli was forgiven $42,000 of his $46,000 in fines for failing to maintain a dilapidated property. Petrilli then donated $2,500 to Mayor Jim Langfelder's re-election campaign.
Buscher spoke out against what she called "pay to play" politics, saying that it is time for Springfield to demand transparency and accountability from its leaders. She pointed out that the city has more than one database to track debt, including one that can only be accessed by the legal department. Buscher advocated for one database with different levels of security that can be accessed by the appropriate departments.
The Illinois Times article also revealed that the city has waived fines and forgiven utility bills in hundreds of cases, but the current administration has refused to release the names of those who benefited, claiming that it is personal financial information exempt from public records laws.
Buscher called on the city to be more transparent about its debt forgiveness practices and to release the names of those who have benefited. She said that the people of Springfield deserve to know how their tax dollars are being used and whether or not their leaders are being influenced by political donations.
"I am not a career politician, my family has not made a history of being in politics. It is time for Springfield to ask, how many other cases are there, said Buscher. "What else is being hidden? No one will know unless you elect a Mayor who will be open and transparent with this information."