Crooked Windy City
There really is nothing new about corruption in Chicago, a city where clout and patronage have for years flowed freely. But lately, things have really gotten out of control at City Hall. A federal investigation into the wrongdoing has so far led to 30 indictments and 23 convictions. Those charged include a top official at the mayor’s office of intergovernmental affairs and the former deputy water commissioner, who pled guilty to taking bribes, shaking down companies for political contributions and rigging hiring.
Not surprisingly, Mayor Richard Daley, who was first elected in 1989, denies involvement in any of the scandals. They include fraud, violating a court order against using politics as a basis for hiring city workers, accepting bribes for city business and the disappearance of 840 truckloads of asphalt intended for city jobs.
The asphalt scandal led to the resignation of Transportation Commissioner Miguel d’Escoto, whose department was responsible for the material. So far 17 people have pled guilty to charges relating to the asphalt’s disappearance. The latest, a suburban paving contractor, admitted that he bought 60 truckloads of the stolen goods.
While federal prosecutors in Illinois are quite busy with these Chicago cases, they are also preparing for the upcoming trial of former Illinois Governor George Ryan, who is charged with racketeering.
If you recall, Ryan was charged with using his office for the gain of family, friends and himself. He is accused of accepting free vacations and other perks while doling out favors, such as lucrative state contracts to his lobbyist buddies.