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“Petri dish for corruption”

Wednesday, Apr 26, 2006

State prosecutors from around the country are told how bad things are in Illinois.

A convicted former governor and scandals at Chicago City Hall earned Illinois the dubious distinction of “petri dish for corruption” at a national meeting of state prosecutors Tuesday.

The conviction last week of former Gov. George Ryan on federal racketeering and fraud charges was a backdrop for the National Association of Attorneys General’s one-day summit in Chicago to talk about ways to stamp out public corruption.

“Illinois is apparently a petri dish for corruption. It is a real breeding ground,” Illinois Campaign for Political Reform director Cynthia Canary told the group.

Ryan was convicted April 17 by a federal court jury of steering state leases and contracts in exchange for gifts. Ryan, a Republican, maintains his innocence and promises an appeal.

Federal prosecutors also are investigating political patronage and payoffs at Chicago City Hall. Dozens of people have been charged, including the former city clerk, who pleaded guilty last month to taking $48,000 in payoffs to get companies into a city program that outsourced trucking work to private haulers.

The administration of the current governor, Democrat Rod Blagojevich, finds its hiring practices under scrutiny by federal and state investigators. Blagojevich has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

Meanwhile, Comptroller Hynes was in Rockford yesterday talking about ethics.

State Comptroller Dan Hynes barnstormed the state Tuesday, stopping in Rockford to urge legislators to support his three-pronged bill that he says will end “pay to play” politics in Illinois.

“There’s built-up frustration and anger among the citizenry” over repeated stories of political corruption in both parties, Hynes said. “If we can get people to channel that toward their leaders, we might be able to move this bill.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Apr 26, 06 @ 9:13 am:

    This was Dan Hynes’ year to run. He’s bland enough, well known enough, solid enough, and knows which side to be on current issues. He would have beaten Corruptovich if he ran. Illinois is dying for a dull accountant right now. Thats one of the reasons why polls are showing that the state is favoring a Treasurer for governor.

    If Blagojevich is indicted before November, do you think someone will wake up and put Hynes in?

  2. - anonymous - Wednesday, Apr 26, 06 @ 10:00 am:

    Dan Hynes also visited the Quad Cities yesterday with his effective message. I applaud his efforts and his message and, as a Democrat, wish our party would wake up to the need to shake up the status quo.

  3. - Jimbo - Wednesday, Apr 26, 06 @ 10:15 am:

    I am outraged that people from around the country would hold a meeting IN Chicago and rip our city and state. Their arrogance, is a joke. If you have a problem with us dont come here and let the people who actually live here deal with our own city and state.

  4. - Navin Johnson - Wednesday, Apr 26, 06 @ 10:25 am:

    The arguments coming from Springfield on why they can’t enact play to pay legislation are hilarious. Whenever ethics reforms are proposed the insiders act as if the bills are the most technically and legally confusing pieces of legislation in the history of the world. For example, here is Madigan spokesman Steve Brown’s reaction to the bill: “One problem with this bill is implementation. When does it stop and start, what’s covered and what’s not, and who would examine all the different filings that would be required.”

    I am stunned that the same crew can pass billion dollar budgets and implement sweeping changes to substantive laws. Those bills must be far less less complex.

    Another favorite reaction is to claim we already have good enough laws on the books and we just need better prosecution. We all know that when some problem arises in Illinois, the General Assembly never passes new laws to deal with it, they simply tell the Executive Branch to enforce existing law.

  5. - Bob - Wednesday, Apr 26, 06 @ 12:02 pm:

    Here is more to put on the Petri dish. Whenever the Mayor wants to implement a project for the benefit of the city there is always a friend of his behind the curtain making millions. I susspect this is the case with these security cameras the city is installing.

    Examples include:

    The Mayor wants wrought iron fencing everywhere and his buddy from the fencing company gets an exclusive and probably illegal contract.

    He wants plastic covered toilet seats at the airports and his pals get the exclusive deal.

    He wants improveved concessions at the airports and his pals get the stores.

    The Mayor wants a beautiful new park for the new millenia and sweet deals abound.

    The Mayor wants to control employee sign in/out procedures so they install a multi million dollar swipe in/out card system in all city offices generating no bid contracts and actually making it easier for employees to cheat on their time.

    There are countless examples of this formula bilking taxpayers. The way it usually works is the Mayor or the media find a terrible problem like the washrooms at O’Hare are filthy. How do we fix it? New toilet seats everywhere.

    The other day headlines in both papers describe security problems with O’Hare’s camera monitoring system. Apparently the software had a glitch so this was the lead story all over town. I would be willing to bet that the city will announce a new multi million dollar system that will fix any security imperfections. Of course the Mayor’s cousin will be consulting on the project and his friends will have their fingers in it.

    Maybe I am cynical, but if I dug into it I bet I could find hundreds of examples of this graft formula working our city. The media crisps are willing accomplices. Maybe a better word than accomplice is patsy.

  6. - BIG TOWN - Wednesday, Apr 26, 06 @ 12:52 pm:

    Complain all you want, I have lived in the city my entire life and it has never been better. You can point to “waste” in any government but the city has improved ten over so I am many others are happy.

  7. - Pat Hickey - Wednesday, Apr 26, 06 @ 1:27 pm:


    Thank God that I am not Mayor of Chicago; I’d have the place picked as clean as Oprah’s plate.

    I remember when my public school buddies used to tell me that us Catholics had to eat fish on Fridays because the Pope owned all the fishing companies in the world.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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