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Poll: Almost everybody feels that corruption is common here

Monday, Mar 31, 2014

* From the recent Paul Simon Public Policy Institute poll

• 89 percent of Illinoisans feel corruption is somewhat common in the state, with 53 percent believing it’s very common.

• 79 percent say corruption at the federal level is at least somewhat common, with 45 percent saying it’s very common.

• 62 percent of all Illinoisans believe county or city politic al corruption is at least somewhat common, with 35 percent reporting local corruption to be very common.

    ° However, 85 percent of those living in Chicago believe county or city political corruption is at least somewhat common, with 55 percent perceiving local corruption to be very common

More numbers and results are here.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - 47th Ward - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 12:31 pm:

    It’s no wonder people believe that when legal, run of the mill political stuff like hiring your friends and family or giving business to allies is reported as “corrupt” by the do-gooders in the media. No one at the Tribune Company or ABC7 or other media companies would steer business to a friend or hire a relative, right? Right?


    Calling everything that is legal but distasteful in politics “corruption” demeans the actual corruption out there, like kick-backs and bribery, which is relatively rare. Joe Berrios hires a bunch of family and, based largely on that, everyone thinks he is corrupt.

  2. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 12:38 pm:

    Everyone is corrupt…

    … until you call your friend at ComEd to trim a tree…
    … unless you get your Alderman to get your sidewalk fixed quicker…
    …unless you call a friend to get a Fire Truck scheduled on short notice to go to a school to promote safety…

    Everybody else is the corruptor. Everyone else is corrupt

    Then… can I ask a favor?

    The favor is never the ‘crime’, you take Cash money for the favor, then you got problems…

  3. - Anon - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 12:42 pm:

    47th makes a good point about how broad a meaning the media gives to the term “corruption.” It boils down to anything reporters think is wrong, whether it’s illegal or not. When they (Dave Savini) get busted for DUI, and plead guilty, that doesn’t qualify as corruption.

  4. - OneMan - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 12:49 pm:

    47th ward… I guess you are right.

    Because the great unwashed like me, see someone in an office of public trust, using funds generated by taxes that I an others pay to hire a bunch of relatives. I find it hard to understand that those folks just happen to be the most qualified to take those positions. I may be simplistic of me to expect people in a position of a public trust to fairly hire the most qualified to do the public’s business.

    But wait, it is ok in the private sector. Again my simplistic brain thinks, you know if the local bar wants to hire his nephews to be bartenders I always have the option of going to a different bar . Also at the end of the day it isn’t my money he is using to pay those guys.

    Or to use another example, it is the same reason people get angry when they seen ComEd guys sleeping on the job vs someone working on the house down the street. Because I can’t choose my power distribution company I feel that they have an obligation to work hard (perhaps not fair) whereas the guy fixing the neighbors driveway isn’t getting paid by me.

    You are right, there is ‘true’ corruption vs the ‘distasteful’ on the other hand I suspect the road to ‘true’ always starts through ‘distasteful’.

  5. - Arizona Bob - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 12:58 pm:

    There’s one big difference between a private business hiring friends and relatives and the government, 47th.

    ABC7 and other companies don’t force you to pay money to them through involuntary taxes to subsidize their patronage and cronyism.

    I guess if you’re in the 47th Ward dem organization you wouldn’t undertand that, cause whatever we make and you’re forcing away from us through taxes is “your” money, right?

    BTW, I’m surprised the “very common” answer for corruption is so low. It just goes to show you that only about 55% of the people have a clue about what’s going on.

  6. - John A Logan - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 1:06 pm:

    The legal standard is often the lowest standard to live by, so pass that off some where else.

    Illinoisan’s believe government is corrupt, because government in Illinois IS corrupt. This is the most disappointing part of the comments here, the defense of the indefensible.

    Blame the Media is the cry of 47th Ward, and OW….that would be laughable, if the issue were not so serious. It’s also indicative of how the culture of corruption has set up shop in the minds of many otherwise intelligent people.

  7. - wordslinger - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 1:13 pm:

    Surprised about the relative low numbers in regards to county/city politics outside of Chicago.

    I’ve lived in a lot of small towns in Illinois, and those are the easiest places to get a “favor” from your “guy.”

    When I was a kid, I dated the daughter of a district judge, my brother’s father-in-law worked in the state’s attorney’s office and my long-time family neighbor was a cop. All came in very handy at times for my friends and I.

    I think that kind of stuff is the same all over.

  8. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 1:19 pm:

    ===…because government in Illinois IS corrupt…===

    Boy, lumping everyone in government as corrupt is a bit lazy, dontcha think?

    Every member of the GA? Every state trooper? Every social worker? Every single worker at IDOT, every one… corrupt.

    Nothing like lumping everyone as bad.

    If you think I am intelligent, I thank you, but you might be in a very small minority…

    Also the hypocrisy is the mitigating factor for me.

    ===Or to use another example, it is the same reason people get angry when they seen ComEd guys sleeping on the job vs someone working on the house down the street…===

    So, if the people could call to get their tree trimmed too, then they won’t beef?

    Again, everyone is corrupt, unless I can work the system too, but mine was ok?

  9. - Steve - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 1:20 pm:

    It’s hard to argue with the empirical evidence from the University of Illinois-Chicago.

  10. - Commonsense in Illinois - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 1:23 pm:

    So…Hey, we’re da city dat works…go cry to your mama.

  11. - Demoralized - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 1:23 pm:

    ==It just goes to show you that only about 55% of the people have a clue about what’s going on.==

    How’s it feel to be in the 45% that does’t have a clue @Arizona Bob?

  12. - Demoralized - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 1:24 pm:

    ==cause whatever we make and you’re forcing away from us through taxes ==

    Oh brother. Here we go again with the dopey “taking” statements.

  13. - Ghost of John Brown - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 1:37 pm:

    I know some want to defend government. Based on 25 years of dealing with government here in Illinois, you are generally correct that 90% of those in government, especially the rank and file are generally pretty good people.

    However, I’ve seen corruption up close and personal. I’ve seen it at the State level, the County level and the City level. Late night comedy laughs at us for it. Politicians want to wipe it under the rug. We had Jim Thompson tell us that we needed to let George Ryan out of jail. It seems like a monthly case that some Chicago Alderman or State Rep. gets indicted.

    Is it better than perhaps it used to be - sure. Is it cleaned up - Heck no.

  14. - Statistical reader - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 1:38 pm:

    Arizona Bob. Where do you get your statistics at? I put 95 % of the people in Illinois as having no idea of whats going on

  15. - olddog - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 1:43 pm:

    For what it’s worth — when I moved to Illinois, I’d covered a runaway grand jury investigating a country courthouse ring down South … a lot of talk about corruption, several indictments and a few convictions. In my experience, it’s been about the same in Illinois — or was, until Blagojevich came along. A lot of talk, a lot less evidence of actual unlawful corruption. Only difference I noticed was that we talk about it a lot more openly in Illinois.

  16. - olddog - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 1:45 pm:

    @#$! autocorrect! — that’s “county” courthouse.

  17. - PoolGuy - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 2:03 pm:


  18. - OldSmoky2 - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 2:21 pm:

    Despite the perception, if you take a moment to look up the actual numbers, Illinois actually doesn’t fare badly when it comes to public corruption compared to other states. On convictions of public officials per capita, Illinois ranks 22nd (worst states are N.D., Alaska, La., Miss., Mont.). That’s from the New York Times. Business Insider used more recent data from the FBI and ranked Illinois 16th (worst states are La., N.D., S.D., Kentucky and Alaska).

  19. - Johnson's Corner - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 2:30 pm:

    Who are the clowns that don’t know that the entire Government is corrupt from the Federal level all the way down to the Dog catcher.

  20. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 2:34 pm:

    ===Who are the clowns that don’t know that the entire Government is corrupt from the Federal level all the way down to the Dog catcher.===

    So I guess you are “clown” if you don’t play “victim”

    “Do I amuse you?”

  21. - Johnson's Corner - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 2:49 pm:

    Actually, I have come across a lot of corruption. I have seen what it has done to my relatives who have small businesses in Chicago. I believe that most regular government workers are good honest people but the corruption is from the ones who have all of the power. There is corruption and it is in every level of Government. It has done tremendous damage to small businesses. However, I know many Government workers and they are good friends and some relatives and they are honest, hard working people. It is the higher ups that are corrupt.

  22. - Johnson's Corner - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 2:51 pm:

    As for Willy, I have no problem with you.

  23. - 47th Ward - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 2:51 pm:

    ===I have come across a lot of corruption===

    Would you offer us an example? Is there an example you could offer?

  24. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 2:59 pm:

    ===I have come across a lot of corruption===

    - Evelyn Sanguinetti(?)

  25. - Johnson's Corner - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 3:13 pm:

    47th Ward

    Your old Alderman who we voted out was corrupt and would solicit money from businesses and if they did not pay he would get retribution. He found ways to hurt small businesses that would not “donate” to his many fund raisers.

    I can say that I am happy that Ameya Pawar won.

    Also, look at all of the fences that were put up around the City by Daley’s relatives.

    The corruption is there.

  26. - Walker - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 3:24 pm:

    Having lived and worked for long periods of time in two other states — NY and RI — and been fairly involved with government officials, my own experience is that Illinois cannot match those two in “corruption” broadly defined. And NJ is so bad, it scares New Yorkers.

    Illinois citizens lead the pack in bragging about, or worrying about corruption, but they enjoy overstating it for some reason. By most measures, we are in the middle of the pack among states.

    Also local village, park district, and township “corruption” all flourish in Illinois, while we complain about the state and city — but they tend to be run by people we might know, and so we trust them more.

    The grass is always greener.

  27. - 47th Ward - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 3:30 pm:

    Thanks JC, but let’s be clear, Gene Schulter might have been alderman of my ward, but he was never MY alderman if you know what I mean.

  28. - Norseman - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 3:44 pm:

    Merriam-Webster definition of corruption.
    “1 a : impairment of integrity, virtue, or moral principle : depravity
    b : decay, decomposition
    c : inducement to wrong by improper or unlawful means (as bribery)
    d : a departure from the original or from what is pure or correct”

    Unfortunately, the term is thrown around too easily by folks who disagree with actions, people or organizations. It’s use is akin to the process of vilifying your enemy in a conflict. You want to feel good about yourself and feel your cause or believes have a noble justification.

  29. - Secret Square - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 4:10 pm:

    “On convictions of public officials per capita, Illinois ranks 22nd (worst states are N.D., Alaska, La., Miss., Mont.).”

    I don’t think that’s necessarily the most accurate measure of corruption. A high rate of public official convictions could mean either:

    1) the state is so sparsely populated that even one or a handful of convictions skews the “per capita” numbers; or

    2) corrupt pols are more likely to get caught in that state due to stricter laws, more thorough investigation, less ways to weasel out of a conviction, or some combination of the three.

    I personally believe the real measure of corruption is: how difficult is it for an ordinary citizen without wealth or political connections to access needed services, obtain public employment or obtain redress of a grievance without resorting to extra-legal (not necessarily illegal) means?

    To me, the issue is not so much whether public officials do favors for people they know — who doesn’t? — as whether in the process, they prevent others who are not as well connected from obtaining what is due them.

  30. - Mokenavince - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 4:36 pm:


  31. - OldSmoky2 - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 4:37 pm:

    “I don’t think that’s necessarily the most accurate measure of corruption. A high rate of public official convictions could mean either:

    1) the state is so sparsely populated that even one or a handful of convictions skews the “per capita” numbers; or

    2) corrupt pols are more likely to get caught in that state due to stricter laws, more thorough investigation, less ways to weasel out of a conviction, or some combination of the three.”

    Actually, if you just look it up and read some of the many studies that have been done, the states that rank worst in the reports I cited tend to have more lax ethics laws and rarely enforce the laws they do have, while Illinois has tougher laws than many states. Montana, for example, allows people to spend up to $2,400 wining and dining elected officials without registering as lobbyists or reporting that they’ve picked up the tab. Tennessee established an ethics commission in 2006 that’s done absolutely nothing to date. Georgia’s ethics laws are almost never enforced, even when violations are reported.
    On point 2, the Northern District of Illinois has been one of the most active and aggressive U.S. attorney offices when it comes to prosecuting corruption. Just ask Blagojevich, Ryan, the Jacksons, Rostenkowski, etc., how easy it is to “weasel out of a conviction” for corruption in Illinois.

  32. - wordslinger - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 4:46 pm:

    I’m with Smoky.

    There’s no lack of heat in the Northern District of Illinois. It’s just a question if the U.S. Attorney wants to shoot fish in a barrel — seriously, 50 aldermen — or go after the big catch.

  33. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 5:10 pm:

    - OldSmoky2 - is on it.

    Name a US Attorney’s Office in the last 10 years that had taken down both a Republican and a Democratic governor snd a nationally profiled Congressman and his elected wife?

    I can’t.

  34. - wordslinger - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 5:16 pm:

    Many Illinois political observers take perverse pleasure that we’re so much more corrupt than “normal” people.

    We’re bad. The baddest of the bad.

    It’s absurd. Human nature doesn’t stop at the county line, or the state line, or the border. That’s just vanity.

    Where’s the last place you’d expect political scandal?

    I’d guess Utah. But here we go:

  35. - Mac - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 6:23 pm:

    Seems like this corruption issue may be tied to a lack of trust in our major social institutions,not just government,but churches,education,etc.That kind of faith can rebound,but it may be a long process.

  36. - Cook County Commoner - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 7:30 pm:

    Maybe the Simon Institute should have asked the voters if they perceived themselves as corrupt, and defined “corruption” as failing to inform themselves of the issues, failing to contact their elected officials on issues and failing to vote.

  37. - Downstater - Tuesday, Apr 1, 14 @ 8:47 am:

    Have more elected Democrats or Republicans been convicted of political corruption in the last 15 years? It just seems like more Democrats.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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