Late auditor taxpayers' friend
One of state's government's good guys — and there aren't enough of them — died last week in Springfield.
Robert G. Cronson, who died at 87, became Illinois' first auditor general in 1974. For the next 17 years, the office he led was relentless in its examination and constructive criticism of how the various agencies of government in Illinois enforced state law and spent taxpayer dollars.
In a state like Illinois, you can bet that Cronson got into his share of fights with state bureaucrats who liked doing things their way rather than the way it should have been done. Cronson even tussled with the Illinois Supreme Court over the extent of his auditing authority.
Cronson's successor, Bill Holland, recently commented that the work done in his office rests on the foundation that Cronson laid from 1974 until his retirement in 1991.
A former U.S. Marine and a graduate of the University of Chicago law school, Cronson was hyper-aggressive in his pursuit of mismanagement and he found a target-rich atmosphere. But even he, however, eventually tired of how state government operates and the obstacles he encountered. Cronson once told The News-Gazette that he finally decided to step down after he realized that the frustrations of the job were about to lead him to "punch somebody."
The state owes Cronson a debt of gratitude for his important leadership of the auditor general's office, one of the taxpayers' few protectors. He established a reputation of bipartisan professionalism that current Auditor General William Holland has continued.