Report: Corruption making way into suburbs
Updated: August 13, 2012 6:14AM
ELMWOOD PARK — The suburbs are often thought of as quiet bastions where nothing ever happens besides bake sales and teas, but big-city corruption has moved in, according to local experts.
A report called “Green Grass and Graft: Corruption in the Suburbs” by a research team from the University of Illinois at Chicago shows that the city influence of corruption has made its way to the suburbs. Researchers found that more than 60 suburbs in Cook and surrounding counties have come under the cloud of corruption, involving more than 100 public official and police officers. Those numbers include 17 mayors and village presidents.
Dick Simpson, former Chicago alderman and head of UIC’s political science department, believes to stem the tide of corruption in the suburbs, the governor and state Legislature could create a Suburban Inspector General to oversee the suburbs or each county could create a Suburban Inspector General’s Office.
Locally, thoughts were mixed about the idea.
Elmwood Park Mayor Peter Silvestri said he’s read the study and doesn’t have a problem with Simpson’s idea.
“It should be noted that it was a pretty comprehensive study and nothing involving Elmwood Park was mentioned in it,” he said.
Silvestri said that when corruption comes to light in the suburbs, the communities normally know about it, compared to similar incidents going on in Chicago.
“If a politician or police officer is on the take, it’s going to get around quick,” he said. “If there is something going wrong in smaller communities, it’s more visible.”
He also said times have changed and people are now more prone to speak out against corruption than in the past.
“I think the only difference today is that I believe today - opposed to 50 years ago - there are more ways to monitor this activity,” Silvestri said. “I think people are smarter today.
“I think the general public is less inclined to be solicited for bribes than they were 50 years ago. People are more inclined to call the proper authorities.”
“I have no problem with it,” he said, regarding creating an inspector general position. “It’s a commendable idea.”
River Grove Mayor Marilynn May didn’t feel anything like that is needed.
“I don’t think it’s necessary,” she said.
“I’m focused one thing,” she said, regarding serving her town’s residents. “If (corruption’s) out there, it’s sure not affecting me.”