UPDATED 02/15/12 5:36 a.m. CBSChicago
CHICAGO (CBS) — A former Chicago alderman turned political science professor/corruption fighter has found that Chicago is the most corrupt city in the country.
He cites data from the U.S. Department of Justice to prove his case. And, he says, Illinois is third-most corrupt state in the country.
University of Illinois at Chicago professor Dick Simpson, who served as alderman of the 44th Ward in Lakeview from 1971 to 1979, estimates the cost of corruption at $500 million.
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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.
“We first of all, we have a long history,” Simpson said. “The first corruption trial was in 1869 when alderman and county commissioners were convicted of rigging a contract to literally whitewash City Hall.”
Corruption, he said, is intertwined with city politics.
“We have had machine politics since the Great Chicago Fire of 1871,” he said. “Machine politics breeds corruption inevitably.”
Simpson says Hong Kong and Sydney were two similarly corrupt cities that managed to change their ways. He says Chicago can too, but it will take decades.
Simpson is set to present his full report Wednesday morning, and testify before the new Chicago Ethics Task Force at City Hall Wednesday night.