As our former governor prepares to head west to begin his prison sentence, Chicago was given the unfortunate title of “most corrupt” city in America in a new study by the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Illinois’ Institute of Government and Public Affairs.
University of Illinois at Chicago professor Dick Simpson, who worked on the study, told CBS Chicago that corruption among public officials has cost the city $500 million:
It’s essentially a corruption tax on citizens who bear the cost of bad behavior — police brutality, bogus contracts, bribes, theft and ghost payrolling to name a few — and the costs needed to prosecute it.
The report cites federal data showing that, between 1976 and 2010, there were 1,531 convictions for public corruption in “the federal district dominated by Chicago,” according to the Associated Press.
Since the 1970s, four of seven Illinois governors have been convicted, along with 31 members of Chicago’s city council.
“The two worst crime zones in Illinois are the governor’s mansion … and the city council chambers in Chicago,” Simpson, a former Chicago alderman, told the AP. “No other state can match us.”
The study does point to problems in other states, however. The Central District of California, wehere Los Angeles is located, had 1,275 convictions during the 34 years the study analyzed, CBS reports. The Southern District of New York — home of New York City– was third with 1,202 convictions.
Simpson said Illinois needs to pass legislation that would allow voters to “adopt ethics reforms by referendum,” and hold Chicago aldermen to higher ethical standards.