Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Creation of Inspector General for DuPage County


DuPage County should consider the creation of an inspector general.  If elected to DuPage County Board I will make this a priority.


Study: Suburban corruption merits creation of inspector general

Dick Simpson, a former Chicago alderman and head of UIC's Political Science Deptartment, presented the results of a report detailing corruption that has afflicted more than 60 suburbs in Cook and surrounding counties and has ensnared more than 100 public officials and police officers, including 17 mayors and village presidents. He is calling for a suburban inspector general to rein it in.

Saying that suburban municipalities are copying the corruption playbook of Chicago, a former Chicago alderman on Monday proposed creating suburban inspector generals offices to police local officials.
“Many contracts and businesses in the suburbs have bribery and corruption as part of (their) business expenses,” said Dick Simpson, the head of the political science department at the University of Illinois-Chicago.
At a news conference at the Cook County Building in Chicago, Simpson unveiled a report — “Green Grass and Graft: Corruption in the Suburbs” — that he co-authored documenting corruption cases that have ensnared more than 100 suburban public officials and police officers dating to 1974.
“Somebody has to do something,” Simpson said. “This is not a minor problem. This is a major program.”
He suggested the state, the counties or the suburbs themselves could create the inspector generals offices. A local inspector general’s office could cost as much as $500,000 per year.
He said that would be a fraction of the cost of the problem, which he said was $500 million a year statewide and which he referred to as “the corruption tax.”
Simpson said that federal prosecutors are often tied up pursuing Chicago corruption cases and state’s attorneys are too politically compromised to fight crooked politicians.
“The truth is that most of the state’s attorneys have a political base and the political base doesn’t want to prosecute their own officials,” Simpson said.
He also said that office of Attorney General Lisa Madigan “should be doing much more,” to fight suburban political corruption instead of acting as a consumer advocate.
The idea does not lack local validation.
In October 1985, a federal jury convicted Du Page County School Supt. James Smith of obstruction of justice and lying to an FBI agent, after he took a $1,800 kickback from his predecessor, James Wright.
In Feb. 1994, Oakbrook Terrace Zoning Administrator Nicolae Ionescu pleaded guilty to extortion of $10,000 and tax fraud. The following autumn, Oakbrook Terrace Mayor Richard Sarallo admitted to tax evasion, related to bribery and kickbacks involving commercial developer Robert Krilich.
Lisle Park District Director Kim Paetschow resigned in June 2000, after a grand jury probe led to her being charged with theft of labor and services.
In May 2004, Naperville Park District Executive Director Ken Brissa resigned under board pressure after several months of a police probe into questionable spending and bid fixing.
Former Aurora Alderman Jim Meisch received a three year prison sentence after pleading guilty to several federal bribery charges in May 2005.
And just last month, former Warrenville Alderman Christopher Halley was sent to prison on a five-year sentence after he confessed that he took about $6,200 from two Naperville businessmen, promising to supply their new business with poker tables and chips that he never delivered. Halley already was on probation for past financial fraud offenses.
Simpson estimated the local inspector generals could be established within a year with the right support. He said a “champion in government,” needs to helm the cause, and he claimed that he spoke to a staff member of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s office about the plan.
David Hoffman, Chicago’s Inspector General from 2005 to 2009, also endorsed the idea, calling the creation of inspector general’s offices a “very efficient tool to maximize integrity and protect public interests.”
At least one Chicago area town has already tried hiring an inspector general, but it did not end well. South suburban Country Club Hills tapped Ronald Evans, the husband of former police chief Regina Evans, to inspect any political wrongdoing in 2010. Ronald was laid off in August and Regina was fired in October.
Both were indicted this year after allegedly misappropriating more than $500,000 of a state grant to make mortgage payments on a theater they owned and give payments to their friends, family and associates between February 2009 and June 2010.
Sun reporter Susan Frick Carlman contributed to this report.

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