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Corruption roundup

Wednesday, Nov 13, 2019

* The Sun-Times interviewed Chicago’s new FBI chief Emmerson Buie

Now Buie, the onetime youth from Englewood, will play a key role in what appears to be multiple, ongoing federal public corruption investigations that have so far led to charges against three politicians — Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th), state Sen. Thomas Cullerton and former state Rep. Luis Arroyo. Two other politicians have been outed this year as FBI cooperators. And several more appear to be in federal crosshairs.

“Public corruption has been a cornerstone of my career,” Buie told the Sun-Times Tuesday. And, he added, it “will continue to be, in the Chicago division.”

Still, Buie declined to get into the details of the aggressive work being done by the FBI in Chicago. He started his new job Oct. 15. In his second week, a federal jury convicted two Chicago police officers on corruption charges. Three days later, Arroyo was arrested on a federal bribery charge.

“The American public as well as the city of Chicago has a right that their public officials and their law enforcement officials are upholding a certain standard,” Buie said. “Therefore, as we investigate those matters, we try to do them as respectfully and professionally as possible.”

* Robert Herguth and Mark Brown

In September 2015, shortly before Oak Lawn’s red-light cameras from SafeSpeed, LLC, went live at two busy intersections, a company official wrote the south suburb’s village manager about a new marketing campaign with the slogan: “Choose safety, stop on red.”

Soon after, SafeSpeed and Oak Lawn officials engaged in a behind-the-scenes dispute over how many red-light tickets were being issued, with the company pushing Oak Lawn for more, records and interviews show.

More tickets would bring more revenue to Oak Lawn, SafeSpeed and its commissioned sales consultants.

Leading the push for more aggressive ticketing were two former legislators from Oak Lawn: Michael Carberry and John O’Sullivan, according to records and interviews.

At the time, Carberry was on the village board, and O’Sullivan was Worth Township’s Democratic committeeman and a sales consultant for SafeSpeed who appeared to be overseeing Oak Lawn’s account.

There’s lots more to this, so go read the whole thing before commenting.

* Also by Robert Herguth and Mark Brown

When drivers get red-light camera tickets in Matteson, a portion of their fines has been going to a recently retired deputy Chicago city aviation commissioner who’s at the center of a political corruption investigation, records obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times show.

Bill Helm — a $125,000-a-year deputy aviation commissioner overseeing airfield maintenance at O’Hare Airport until he quit in August — also was a paid sales representative for SafeSpeed, LLC, while on the city payroll, the records show.

SafeSpeed paid Helm, who’d held the city aviation post since 2014, a commission on red-light tickets written in Matteson and also Glendale Heights, the records show. Glendale Heights ended its affiliation with the red-light camera operator in 2018, officials said.

Matteson and Glendale Heights officials said they hadn’t heard of Helm and were unaware he was being paid under their contracts with SafeSpeed.

Helm didn’t disclose the outside work to City Hall, as required for any “secondary employment,” a spokesman said. Nor did he inform the Chicago Board of Ethics of outside income.

* Related…

* Illinois House GOP pushes once again for ‘urgent’ ethics overhauls: “We acknowledge that there’s a longer, more ongoing conversation about the culture that’s tolerated some of these ethical lapses in Springfield,” Deputy Minority Leader Tom Demmer, R-Dixon, said. “But it’s very important that we, as elected officials, acknowledge that every day the people of Illinois are waking up and seeing in the newspaper, hearing on the radio or TV, that there’s additional issues that are ethical challenges and problems that are enacted by their representatives in Springfield. We need to do something to take advantage of this opportunity to reform our laws, so … the people of Illinois have better confidence in their elected officials.”

* Firms owned by Hazel Crest woman with criminal past collected $1.8 million consulting for suburbs, even while she faced federal indictment

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Just Me 2 - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 9:40 am:

    With all this corruption everywhere lawmakers should put a hold on all tax increases of any kind. There is no faith that attempts to take more money out of our wallets are being done for the right reasons.

    Tell the unions and all the other voracious tax eaters to tighten their belt just like the taxpayers have been forced to do for once.

  2. - Ron Burgundy - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 9:42 am:

    Either ban the cameras or make it illegal to take a percentage based on the number of tickets. They should be used to enforce the law fairly, not to write as many tickets as possible.

  3. - Pundent - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 9:53 am:

    =With all this corruption everywhere lawmakers should put a hold on all tax increases of any kind.=

    Right. Let’s ignore the glaring problem even longer so the inevitable tax increase is only greater. It’s also worth noting that if you use the roads in this state or any of the services the state is responsible for delivering you are by definition a “tax eater.”

  4. - Responsa - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 9:53 am:

    Paying “commissions” to sales reps based on camera ticketing revenue is hideous. It immediately makes suspect the idea that red light cameras are placed there at intersections for public safety reasons.

  5. - thechampaignlife - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 9:57 am:

    Maybe we need another lockbox amendment to require that fine, fee, and permit revenue only be used for the purpose it was collected (e.g., enforcement of the law that was violated).

    Alternatively, fine revenue could go to a non-profit. No matter how it happens, we need to remove the perverse incentive ( of enforcement, because that promotes revenue generation over public safety at the expense of people just trying to live their lives. Same goes for civil asset forfeiture.

  6. - Amalia - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 10:00 am:

    Corruption Roundup. I appreciate the news collection. Thank you, Rich. I’m sad that there is so much of this news to collect. Do better, elected and appointed officials and lobbyists. Public service is honorable and the public sector is responsible for so much in our lives. Stop screwing this up.

  7. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 10:01 am:

    ===With all this corruption everywhere lawmakers should put a hold on all tax increases of any kind===

    Yeah, because total government inaction worked so well under Rauner.

  8. - Keyrock - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 10:02 am:

    That Holloway story is wild. It’s good that some of the suburbs are getting the attention they deserve. Not all of the corruption is in the city.

  9. - former southerner - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 10:07 am:

    Red light cameras are just one more example of the problems that follow when governmental functions are outsourced to for-profit firms. Incarceration and primary education are other areas where this sort of cancerous capitalism has reared its ugly head with regrettable results from attempting to extract profits from necessary societal functions while those who believe that any government cut or outsourcing plan is a good approach keep their neo-con heads firmly buried in the sand. I hope that those who have been complaining about waste and fraud in government operations are equally rabid in their criticism of these private firms and their shenanigans but I am not holding my breath.

  10. - Streator Curmudgeon - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 10:42 am:

    Thanks for starting this corruption roundup feature, Rich, although it’s disappointing that Illinoisans have to put up with bad government.

    We need more photos of Oscar to balance this news out.

  11. - Back to the Future - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 10:51 am:

    I am also for more Oscar photos.
    This corruption stuff day after day is depressing, but I must admit I read the Corruption Round Up every day.

  12. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 11:02 am:

    ===I am also for more Oscar photos===


  13. - Sox Fan - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 1:37 pm:

    As an Oak Lawn resident, i commend the OLPD in showing at least some common sense in issuing tickets. I also commend the majority of the Board and the mayor for not chasing every last penny and deferring to the OLPD’s discretion. I am against red light cameras in general but at least it looks like the village is trying to be somewhat fair.

  14. - Law Man - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 3:52 pm:

    Isn’t Oak Lawn the same place where the Village Manager was taken into custody after leaving the scene of an accident. A guy was seriously injured. Whatever happened to that?

  15. - Bruce - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 6:29 pm:

    It’s funny that OL administration would cite Streit’s integrity after unseating him with the last of a long line of recriuted challengers over 30 years. Was he standing in the way of something?

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