UIC Report Maps Corruption in Chicago Suburbs
A new study says corruption is not just a Chicago problem and calls for the policing of suburban politics. Oak Lawn cited in report once.
Suburbanites used to throw stones at Chicago for its political corruption. But suburbanites live in glass houses, according to a new University of Illinois (UIC) study.
The University of Illinois-Chicago Political Science Department's sixth Anti-Corruption Report released Monday says that political misbehavior in the suburban ring around Chicago is equally prevalent, but faces far less scrutiny.
Which is why, according to the Huffington Post, the head of the department and co-author of the study, former Chicago alderman Dick Simpson, called for the creation of an independent Suburban Inspector General to police suburban politics at a press conference Monday.
At that conference, Simpson released the study's findings, which included detailed outlines of corruption incidents involving more than 130 individuals across 60 suburbs since the 1970s.
The report maps arrests stemming from corruption charges including instances of nepotism, police officers aiding or extorting criminals, kickbacks and bribes to administrators and public officials with ties to organized crime; a total of six categories of impropriety that are well-represented in many of the examined suburbs.
The six categories of corruption-related convictions in suburban Chicago, according to the report, are:
- Public officials with ties to organized crime,
- Police officers aiding or extorting criminals,
- Kickbacks and bribes to officials and administrators,
- Large development projects, and
- Stealing of funds by leaders of school districts and special purpose districts.
Oak Lawn makes the report once. In 2008, police officer Steven Harrison pled guilty to official misconduct after he was accused of shaking down immigrant motorists.
Although not included in UIC's sixth anti-corruption report, according to Mayor Dave Heilmann, a federal criminal investigation of the Oak Lawn's hiring of a new village attorney in 2009 is ongoing after the village was served with a federal subpeona last year.
The report also documents similar corruption scandals in Bridgeview (multiple conflicts of interest); Chicago Ridge (a corruption scandal in 1975 that sent all but the village clerk to jail); and Crestwood (impending trial of two village officials who allegedly supplemented Lake Michigan water with a trainted well).
Palos Heights has also had 13 village officials indicted on corruption charges.
To read the entire UIC report, click here.
Oak Lawn Patch editor Lorraine Swanson contributed to this report.