Civil Discourse Now

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Chicago America's "most corrupt city"? Those rankings were rigged!

   A University of Illinois professor recently his ranking of this Country’s most corrupt cities. Without surprise, he rated Chicago as The Most Corrupt.

   I have several problems with his assessment: 1) He’s a University of Illinois prof and therefore one should presume bias on his behalf; call it a "homer" advantage; 2) More importantly, his criteria were skewed.

   Professor Dick Simpson based his rankings on officials convicted for the period 1976-2010. 

   1) Let us put that period in context. Amongst the prosecutions in Chicago that occurred were: Operation Greylord during which judges and lawyers were netted up in a massive operation; convictions of several Illinois governors/former governors; and convictions of the random alderman, etc. 1976-2010 followed the death of Mayor Richard Daley I—himself not on the dole, but who understood that he could maintain power if he allowed those who served him to take a few dollars (or more) here and there. Once he died, city officials lost some of their protection.

   2) As Bill Murray’s character in "Stripes" said: "Convicted? Oh no, never convicted." Sure, Chicago would have scored some points here. There was the usual traffic stop dance of a fifty-dollar bill under the driver’s license so when the officer pulled out the license, the driver could say, "What was that?" the officer could say, "Exactly—please watch your speed" and all was well afterward. There was the whole bit of corruption in provision of city services or construction: you want a permit to improve the electrical on your building, you pay da man. This poll does not allow for corruption of a less-documented nature, sort of like missing the nuances of the inside game of a good basketball team: the front line is heavy and shoves people around but that action, while effective, does not show up in the stats.

   3) The corruption gauged was more blatant because it was from older times and, again, in Chicago. This is the Twenty-First Century. Corruption takes many, more subtle forms. Outright bribes not only are illegal, they are passe and rude. If you really want to make an impact, dump money into an election campaign committee.  Better yet? Form a PAC—it is likely the donation never will be traced. Local newspapers used to do that. Even so, the PAC would be legal.

   Ta-da! We need a new means by which to rank the country’s most corrupt city.

   WARNING: I would ask anyone to keep local bias and fuzzy feelings for the home team out of their mind. This is purely an objective assessment.

   First, we need to limit to six, no more than eight, the categories by which corruption should be judged. I am not about to bad-mouth "convictions" as one such measure. That is valid and easily documented.

   Second, each category needs to be described by one or two words. If we think of core principles, the matter gets more readily handled and explained.

   Third, we have to consider a system of points. Perhaps five, no more than ten, points per category would make it.

   Finally, this either means a canvass of all the cities in the country, or we just do it one-on-one. Let’s see: since we are in Indianapolis, and Chicago is Number One, we could do a comparison between the two.

   Before I forget---Billion Dollar Ball$ is my tenth novel, third that I will have published. It is an e-novel and will be available for $2.99. We will have a launch party on Thursday, January 31 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Broad Ripple Tavern. All (21 years of age or older) are invited. Everyone should have a good time, but please drink responsibly or have a designated driver.

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