Corruption Study Author Calls for Greater Suburban Oversight

Former Chicago alderman and current political science professor estimates corruption costs taxpayers $500 million each year.

The message is simple: corruption exists in the suburbs.

How it is fixed is more complex, according to Dick Simpson, a former Chicago alderman who now teaches political science with a focus on public corruption.

"The Chicago metropolitan region is the most corrupt metropolitan region in the United States," Simpson said Monday night during a forum at Elmhurst College.

Simpson co-authored "Green Grass and Graft: Corruption in the Suburbs," a report detailing how widespread the problems have been outside Chicago. Specifically, Simpson mentioned how at least 60 different communities have seen some type of corruption.

"Although Chicago grabs the headlines, our entire metropolitan area is harmed by corruption," Elmhurst College's Director of Urban Studies Constance Mixon said. "Graft does not stop at city boundaries."

An audience of about 50 students and area residents listened to Simpson offer abridged versions of examples contained in the study. Elmhurst is not specifically referenced for any issues with public corruption, but Simpson offered an unflattering comparison between DuPage County and Chicago.

"DuPage County is a mirror image of Chicago, but it's been governed by a Republican Party machine," he said, noting how such politics can breed trouble.

Gambling, organized crime and nepotism are among the factors leading to situations where kickbacks, bribes and contract schemes snare politicians looking to make personal gains off of public service, Simpson said.

The answers come in several forms, according to Simpson, Mixon and Terry Pastika, executive director of the Citizens Advocacy Center. Voting for reform-based candidates, pushing for increased government transparency and improving the public's understanding of what actually is corruption were among the suggestions offered.

In response to a comment about the media's role in keeping tabs on local government, Simpson pointed out there are fewer reporters to do investigative digging these days. Pastika noted it is difficult for citizens to get the information they need because of that, especially when many people do not attend meetings or have no citizen's groups to turn to.

Simpson's top priority remains the creation of a suburban inspector general. The position would operate solely to monitor government entities in a way that local prosecutors and the attorney general are either "unable or unwilling to tackle the problem." The cost of an inspector general would be minimal if shared among several communities or at the county level.

"Suburban corruption will only be cured by a multi-faceted approach," Simpson added. "I'm not discouraged ... it's just that in the suburbs, there's never really been a discussion."

Monday's forum can be heard in its entirety by going to www.wbez.org/amplified.


Deke October 02, 2012 at 07:02 PM
If Simpson is equating Cook County and DuPage County in terms of corruption, he has lost all credibility. Cook County has no equal, at least in Illinois.
Dan Campana October 02, 2012 at 07:54 PM
His comparison was not between counties, especially because there are plenty of suburban Cook towns mentioned in the report for their troubles. His comparison was simply between political machines.
The Ghost of Harold Washington October 02, 2012 at 11:49 PM
So former Alderman Simpson, crony for Aldermen Vrydolyak and Burke, poster children for the Crook county way, wants to put on the anti-corruption cape and start throwing bombs and pointing fingers (not to mention cashing checks) towards the suburbs? And the buffoons at Elmhurst College and Nader's Citizen Advocacy Center want to push his garbage? What was it that Ringley (from the circus) said? "There's a sucker born every minute".
Dan Campana October 02, 2012 at 11:56 PM
Crony or not, Simpson didn't end up in the same predicament as many of his colleagues - he didn't take a bite of the apple. His point is simple, nobody is minding the store in the suburbs and plenty of public servants have take advantage. Check out the report for his findings. He's just the messenger in all this.
Democracy October 03, 2012 at 04:08 AM
Ghost - do your research on Simpson. He led the INDEPENDENT bloc AGAINST the machine when he was in the Council. He is also a nationally recognized academic and Political Scientist.
Lindy Sullivan October 03, 2012 at 04:06 PM
Alderman Simpson fought Daley the first and worked hard to institute reforms. As a minority he was limited in the amount of votes to support his reforms. Rather than change and be like the corrupt Vrodylak and others he quit the City Council. In the mean time he has continued to fight for reforms. Anyone that thinks there is no corruption in DuPage County and they can stop it by putting up a big fence between Cook and DuPage is living in a dream state/county. The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County is being investigated by the FBI. The FBI is in DuPage County investigating contracts, kickbacks, etc at our forest preserve district, 3 Class X felonies have been charged as a start of this investigation. Check out their book and see for yourself we need more investigations and reforms in DuPage County. When our DC Forest Preserve Commissioners are allowed to take unlimited campaign contributions from companies doing business with the Forest Preserve District there will be abuses.
Gary Kleppe October 03, 2012 at 04:23 PM
Right, and as we can see pretty clearly in this thread, some people have a vested interest in wanting to kill the messenger.
Lindy Sullivan October 03, 2012 at 04:33 PM
Anyone thiniing there is no corruption in DuPage County only need to watch this video of the Forest Preserve President Dewey Pierotti angrily denying an investigation of the FBI into his/our forest preserve district. Go here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QAi8tGrF7KI and let others know that 3 Class X felonies have been charged for 6 years of theft from our forest preserve district. Read the comments below the YouTube video to get more info.
Jane October 03, 2012 at 05:21 PM
Corruption in the suburbs? DuPage Forest Preserve!
jagtwlve October 03, 2012 at 06:10 PM
The politicized county state's attorney offices(including DuPage) leave their political com padres alone, looking the other way when it comes to their political friends that are involved in corruption. There's a lack of oversight, sort of like that Dixon, IL. official who stole 50 plus million over two decades. Oversight and transparency are key to ending the political thievery.
Dina Desai January 10, 2013 at 01:57 PM
I am a victim of Du Page County Corruption involving judges, multiple attorneys. I lost my sanity, most of my business, my relationship with my children. You have to be ruined victim to know the difference.
Dina Desai January 10, 2013 at 02:04 PM
There is a nice game going on where attorneys and their experts feed each other, lie, manipulate each other. At this point, I can file a criminal law suit against certain attorney and their expert victims, and file a case against State of Illinois because of negligent actions of state employees. Wow DuPage County, white collar criminals?.


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