Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Area local governments in DC are not the nation's most corrupt: it's Chicago

Despite the jailing of Prince George's County's former county executive Jack Johnson and his wife, Leslie, the imminent jailing of former DC Councilman Harry Thomas Jr., the fall of then Mayor Sheila Dixon in Baltimore, and numerous other elected officials under investigation in DC and Maryland, nor the problems with some local governments in Greater Los Angeles ("Bell: 'Corruption on Steroids'" from the Los Angeles Times") and local and state government officials in New York State, according to the Anti-Corruption unit of the Great Cities Institute at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the Greater Chicago area has the most corrupt local governments, based on the number of convictions for illegal behavior.

According to the new report, released Wednesday by the University of Illinois at Chicago, the Northern District of Illinois, which includes Chicago and the suburban area surrounding it, logged 1,531 public corruption convictions since 1976, or 84 percent of the state’s total for such convictions.

While California and New York totaled more public corruption convictions, Illinois outranks those states on a per capita basis.

The report arrives the same day Mayor Emanuel hosts the first meeting of an inaugural ethics task force. Dick Simpson, a political scientist at the University of Illinois at Chicago who co-authored the report, will be the first witness to testify. He says Emanuel is “doing much better in releasing more information” than his predecessor, former Mayor Richard M. Daley, but still has a way to go toward eliminating the city’s legendary patronage system and promoting full transparency at City Hall.

Emanuel has been under fire for appearing not to hold fully to campaign promises his administration would be more transparent than Daley’s, which was notorious for operating in secret. While the Emanuel administration has posted employee payrolls, databases, and other records on the city website, many of which had never seen the light of day until last year, critics say his staff have refused to make all documents involving policy decisions available and continue to react defensively to local media requests seeking complete administration records.

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