Cost of Ilinois Corruption? $38.85 Per Resident

Cost of Ilinois Corruption? $38.85 Per Resident
The Dark Side of Illinois Politics

Former Chicago Alderman and current Head of the UIC Political Science Department Dick Simpson shed some light on just how corrupt Chicago is recently. On Feb. 15, Simpson, his colleagues and students published a comprehensive report on the lengthy conviction history of Chicago and Illinois.

The research was presented before the City Council, and could be used to assess and repair what many residents feel is a broken political system. The research indicated that Chicago is the most corrupt city in the country, and that Illinois is the third most corrupt state in America. This information made the news circles locally, and it didn't surprise many.

However, from a real estate perspective, one of the most interesting calculations in the report is the cost of corruption. Using data that includes the cost of prosecuting politicians, waste from patronage and other costs to state and city taxpayers, the report states that corruption costs Illinois residents about $500 million each year. Broken down per resident, based on U.S. Census 2011 data, that’s $38.85.

It’s not bad, all things considered. But that figure is likely much higher.

“We’re still trying to add to our team a couple of technical experts to make the number exact,” Simpson said. “The $500 million is still educated work based on the scandals we’ve studied and the testimony before committees like the governor’s commission on ethics reform. We’re still trying to tie that down and it’s very difficult. We think within the year we’ll be able to state pretty definitively, just like we can how many people are convicted, we’ll be able to say how much corruption is costing. And that cost is much higher than just the prosecution.”

Indeed, prosecuting high-profile figures, with expensive attorneys, is taxing. But one of the hardest figures to calculate is the loss of better opportunity. For instance, let’s say that the parking meter deal was short-sighted at best and the product of side dealing at worst, like some have suggested (then-Mayor Richard M. Daley was hired by the law firm that handled the transaction shortly after he left office).

Broken down, you have the actual costs to residents of the city: the higher fees to park, which quadrupled in most areas of the city. Next you have the built-in costs to make the deal happen, like attorney’s fees and labor hours spent going over the contract (even the cost of printing a 500-page contract that by most accounts was given to council members only shortly before the vote was held). Lastly, the duration of the contract that prevents the city from negotiating a better deal.

When the more accurate estimate is prepared by Simpson’s group, my guess is that we’ll wish it was only $38.85 per resident.

(Note: Below is the full interview with Dick Simpson)

Law of the Land Interview with Dick Simpson by user4131502


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  • There is no end to corruption regarding sole source, wired back room deals that abuse taxpayer funds...

    Brizard has defended the turnarounds and neglected to mention that CPS made application in tandem with AUSL to go after ISBE and ARRA funding for turnarounds...without disclosing this collusion to the public.

    Here is Barbara Schwartz's Oral CPS Presentation re Turnarounds 2-22-2012:

    My name is Barbara Schwartz. I am a special education teacher at Theodore Herzl Elementary School.

    I love my students. I am invested in their general well being and academic progress.

    Why now, “at AUSL turnaround time” is funding miraculously available to correct health, safety and accessibility issues?

    Why is CPS prepared to jettison experienced, professional educators and replace them with novices who are lacking in instructional and classroom experience?

    Why are valued relationships between the school, parents, students and community suddenly ruptured?

    Why are educational resources previously lacking - now to be funded?

    The attraction of money is compelling even if it means selling your soul.

    Conceived behind closed doors over a decade ago by Arne Duncan, Mayor Daley & Martin Koldyke, Founder of AUSL., today’s privatization proposal is another step toward fully privatizing all Chicago Public Schools.

    Funding available via ISBE has strings attached…turnaround is one required option. CPS, in concert with AUSL, identified and actively made application without informing the public of these “sole source, wired deals” so prevalent in Chicago.

    ISBE prequalification requires that districts a select a turnaround provider from one of 16 Lead Providers. There are not any community organizations that have been prequalified.

    Applications have resulted in awards of $50 Million. Mr. Jesse Ruiz, Vice President of CPS was Chairman of ISBE. He had knowledge and directly participated in the evaluation and award process. Mr. Ruiz, to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest- recuse yourself from discussion and any votes related to AUSL being awarded turnaround monies.

    President Vitale, former Chairman at AUSL, you cannot be objective in this matter. You subscribe to the privatization philosophy of AUSL. Mr. Vitale, recuse yourself from discussions and votes related to AUSL being awarded turnaround schools.

    CPS spent $20 Million on outside legal fees from 2005 to 2011. Education and building improvement priorities were neglected. This was not an appropriate management of these taxpayer monies.

    Members Pritzker, Ruiz and Zopp, as attorneys, should be investigating these contracts. Mayor Emanuel has already addressed this issue in the City of Chicago and is terminating these outside firms.

    Members Hines and Bienen, I invite you to stand in my shoes. With your vast experience in education, if you were currently employed at Herzl, this board would vote to remove you! You would also be nameless and faceless; simply a casualty of greed.

    CPS and AUSL circumvented transparency by conspiring to obtain funds without public disclosure. There was no open bid process and the community was simply shut out. This was a done deal!

    The Chicago Public Building Commission also engages in the same pre-qualification process to preclude open bidding by qualified vendors. This agency also spent $13.5 Million on outside counsel. These dollars could certainly have been put to better use at CPS.

    If AUSL has a special sauce regarding teacher improvement, CPS should license this trade secret and insure that all teachers in the district benefit from this wisdom. Certainly in the area of special education, AUSL is no better qualified to write and implement an IEP than an experienced teacher.



    I also urge you to contact your Illinois State Senators and Representatives to support their bills, HB4487 and SB3239 calling for an immediate moratorium on school turnarounds! Table the vote; there should be no rush to judgment.

    Thank you for your consideration. Don’t forget to carefully read the packet that I prepared for you today.

    Barbara Schwartz

    Download the entire package by clicking on this link

  • The CPS system is a failure, as are most government schools. Just look at the graduation rates and the percentage going on to higher education. Don't take my word for it. If former government schools are "privatized" by proxy government "private" enterprises, the result will be the same.

    Set standards and the allow those who want to open a school, open one. Use vouchers to give parents and kids choice.

    How pathetic and how tiring about hearing of the abused teacher (of which there are some) and the stressed administrator ( of which there are a few), and so very, very little about the horrid education provided to the student (of which there are many).

    This nation got a long fine prior to government education on a mass scale. Then education was something to be valued. When it is given away "free" to kids then, like most other "free" things, it has no value and is worth nothing.

    The corruption will never end in the government systems. Never, ever, never. Time to take out the bricks in the wall.

  • I was figuring that the $38.85 was too low, and you seem to agree. Then throw in that a whole bunch of Illinois residents probably aren't paying their share of the taxes, and per resident also includes minors who, except for candy, probably don't pay any taxes.

    Maybe the above commenters are correct that, in effect, the billions spent on education, at least in Chicago, are wasted (but I guess that wasn't Mavert's point). Then one would have to add in all the money on politically connected consultants and flacks--the CTA Tattler having an example today. Not to mention the outright graft...apparently Beavers didn't learn a lesson from Blago except to raise smokescreens and hire the lawyers who couldn't get Blago off. Then all the political insider deals on construction contracts--always the same couple of contractors, always women's fronts being busted, and in the CTA's case, nothing ever put "in a state of good repair."

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