Tag Archives: Corruption

Examining Corruption in Chicago

This article from Chicago Magazine tries to examine Chicago (and by extension Illinois’) culture of corruption in politics.

Among the reasons cited for the state’s problem: old habits die hard, no will for reform, mob connections, racial tensions and more.

What do you think after reading this?

How many of the same things apply to your city?

-KG

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Filed under Crime, Politics

The Economic Costs of Corruption

Transparency International, a global coalition against corruption, offers this interesting piece about the economic costs of corruption.

According to economist Sanjeev Gupta, national corruption lowers economic growth and per-capital income, despite the argument that a certain amount of corruption can “grease the wheels” of the economy by circumventing bureaucratic regulations.

“Corruption increases the cost of investment for entrepreneurs who need to devote their scarce time and resources to fulfilling government regulations and bribing officials,” Gupta writes. “This cost can be high for small and medium-sized enterprises.”

“Second, corruption acts as a barrier to foreign investment and results in the flight of capital out of a country. The use of public funds to acquire assets abroad shrinks the economy’s savings pool that could otherwise be used for investment. This has repercussions for future generations, particularly in resource-based economies.”

This look at the costs of corruption is timely, as Cleveland remains mired in a 1-year-plus federal corruption probe centered around County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora and County Auditor Frank Russo. I think many of these lessons translate on the local level.

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Frank Russo, center of corruption scandal, still serving as Cuyahoga County Auditor.

For a case study in the high costs of corruption simply tour Youngstown, Detroit or Cleveland. You can see the signs of neglect and waste.

The Plain Dealer ran an article today about the lavish lifestyles enjoyed by recipients of corruption in the county. The two public officials at the center of this corruption ring–Dimora and Russo–are still in office.

Why do we tolerate corruption in the Cleveland area and does this tolerance permeate the region?

-AS

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Filed under Featured, Politics

Depressing Detroit Story of the Week

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Several Detroit Public School employees have been charged with felonies in connection with corruption and missing funds totaling tens of millions of dollars, as The Wall Street Journal reports.

This is on top of another pressing problem the school is struggling with, a $259 million budget deficit.

The charges are pretty shocking – “A probe launched by [Emergency financial manager] Mr. Bobb uncovered paychecks going to 257 “ghost” employees who have yet to be accounted for,” the Journal explained.

“He said that approximately 500 illegal health-care dependents he uncovered have cost the district millions. A separate Federal Bureau of Investigation probe in May led to the indictment of a former payroll manager and another former employee on charges of bilking the district out of about $400,000 over four years.”

Wow. Seriously? 257 ghost employees???

Additionally, the district’s emergency financial manager  must “decide this month if the school system will seek protection under Chapter 9 of the bankruptcy code, which, though rarely used, allows public entities like utilities, cities and counties to restructure debt and even tear up contracts. A filing would be unprecedented: No other large school district in the country has ever gone through with bankruptcy proceedings.”

To help with the deficit, the district is taking measures such as closing schools, allowing private companies to take over 17 of the districts 22 high schools and lay off more than 2,500 of its 13,000 employees.

What do you think? Does this help? Or does closing schools and laying off teachers accelerate the problem even more?

Should the district join GM and Chrysler in bankruptcy?

As the story points out, the district has lost half its students in less than a decade.

Allowing 17 of 22 high schools to be privately run sounds extreme. If you’re going that far, why not just get rid of the public system all together?

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Filed under Education, Featured, Public Education, Urban Poverty

Youngstown Struggles with Sordid Past

People in Youngstown are planning parties and hosting special events to honor the return of disgraced congressman Jim Traficant, who will be released from prison next month.

"Jimbo"

"Jimbo"

This comes at a embarrassment and disappointment to supporters of the movement to revitalize the once-prosperous steel town.

The Vindicator is carrying an opinion piece by Rust Wire contributor Tyler Clark deploring Traficant supporters. Traficiant has been in a federal prison since 2002, when he was convicted on 10 counts including racketeering, bribery and tax evasion.

It’s a clash of new gaurd verses old guard. Supporters of Mayor Jay Williams (the city’s first black and youngest-elected mayor) would rather not have the area’s familiar image as a hotbed of corruption brought back to light.

On the other hand, many in the city remain loyal to the charismatic “son of a truck driver” who had a talent for bringing federal dollars to the region.

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Filed under Featured, Politics