Chicago area called most corrupt in US. Why Rahm Emanuel is under fire.
Chicago and its suburbs have averaged 51 public corruption convictions per year since 1976, a new study finds. Critics say Rahm Emanuel has not made City Hall sufficiently transparent.
(Page 2 of 2)
One recent example is an investigation launched by the Chicago Tribune that seeks to reveal the origins of a plan Emanuel successfully pushed through the City Council that will cover nearly half the city with traffic cameras designed to catch speeders, resulting in $100 tickets. While the mayor is selling the initiative as a way to increase child safety and reduce fatalities, critics say it is a shameless revenue generator that originated with an Emanuel insider.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
According to the Tribune, the Emanuel administration only released 25 of the 165 internal communications requested through a Freedom of Information request, and the city is also stalling in subsequent requests to release comparable records for other stories involving water rate and vehicle fee hikes.
Emanuel attorney Steve Patton told the Tribune that the city does not need to reveal any more documents than it has to this point, insisting that Illinois’ open records laws allow municipalities to withhold documents relating to policy formation.
“If you’ve got a beef with that, then you need to take it up with the state legislature,” Mr. Patton told the newspaper.
The Tribune is pursuing the records related to the speed camera law because it says the lobbyist representing the city vendor that supplies the city’s red light equipment also worked on Emanuel’s legal team that defended challenges to his residency last year during his campaign for mayor.
Ending insider relationships are among the several recommendations Mr. Simpson planned to make Wednesday based on his report. He suggests that if Chicago is determined to reverse course on its corrupt past, it should bar all lobbying of city and state officials, provide all city documents upon request by the city’s inspector general’s office, and amend the city’s ethics ordinance so it covers all 50 aldermen and their staff.
Simpson also recommends providing ethics training and banning gifts to all city employees. He also advocates for re-introducing civic courses in public schools.
“We have a culture of corruption in Chicago and Illinois.... As we get public outrage, then we have an opportunity to change,” he says.
The message, he says, should be most relevant in a recession, when public bodies get aggressive in seeking cuts to shore up gaping budget holes. For example, the University of Illinois report estimates that corruption costs Illinois state taxpayers $500 million a year. Scheming by former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, found guilty of corruption last year, caused a downgrading of the state’s bond rating in 2009, costing the state an extra $20 million that year.
Get daily or weekly updates from CSMonitor.com delivered to your inbox. Sign up today.