Chicago’s political history has been marked by scandal for 150 years; when the firstpolitical machine was created. Since then, machine politics have made it possible for publicofficials and business people to use public resources for personal gain.Our previous reports have focused on aldermanic corruption and major scandals inIllinois and Cook County. In this report we examine corruption in the city of Chicagogovernment. We study certain public agencies throughout the city and their distinct patterns tobetter understand these hot spots of corruption. We have relied primarily on a thorough analysisof city newspapers as well as memoirs and books.In this report we focus primarily on the Department of Fleet Management, FireDepartment, City Treasurers Office, Chicago Park District, Building and Zoning Department,O’Hare Airport, McCormick Place, and Procurement. However, the patterns of patronage,waste, and corruption are so pervasive as to suggest that corruption exists in most city agencies.As long as Chicago is run by “machine politics,” corruption will be a hallmark of citygovernment.The cost is high. In Chicago and Cook County there have been more than 340 convictionsof public officials and business people since 1970, including three governors, 31 aldermen, morethan 40 city employees in the “Hired Truck” scandal, 21 people in building inspection payoffs,and dozens of park district employees. Many of these lawbreakers have been convicted of multiple crimes. These are only some of the best-known scandals. In the roster of crooked cityemployees and their business associates at the end of this report we detail them along with theircrimes and sentences. These felons and the many people who were also guilty but not caughthave cost Chicago, Cook County and Illinois taxpayers an estimated 500 million dollars a year.This report contains three sections. First, a summary of the patterns of abuse present ineach agency. Second, a roster naming more than 340 convicted city officials involved in publiccorruption scandals in city government offices. The report also includes the names of privatecitizens who were indicted and/or convicted in connection with these public corruption cases.The third section, we
recommend specific reforms to end this “culture of corruption” and draft cityordinances to correct some of the worst problems.
The main focus of this report covers the period of time from 1989 until the end of theadministration of Richard M. Daley in 2011. However, corruption and criminal prosecution of itdates back to the public conviction of aldermen and county commissioners for a crooked contractin 1869 – almost 150 years ago.Throughout the agencies examined in this report, we see patterns of bribery, patronage,contract rigging, conflict of interest, nepotism/family ties, clout, and theft. These problems arenot confined to one specific agency but occur in many government offices.