Chicago Wins 'Most Corrupt City' Award Due In No Small Part To Its Awful Redlight Camera System

from the we-won-we-won dept

We’ve talked a great deal about my home city of Chicago, largely for the myriad of awful, corrupt practices it has put in place around topics that we cover here. For instance, we have an alderman trying to shore up the city budget by taxing the shit out of Uber and Lyft, our Mayor thought it was a great idea to have his own private email accounts to conduct business, and a red light camera system so hilariously geared towards bilking money from citizens that the courts have tossed out huge swaths of the tickets it generated, which led the city to decide to make it barely less corrupt by a measure of tenths-of-seconds worth of leeway for drivers crossing the intersection.

Now, you might be thinking that all of this effort to be corrupt and insidious seems like a waste. Wouldn’t it be far easier, you might be thinking, to simply run the city in a sensible way? Wouldn’t that actually require less effort and be better for the people of Chicago? Perhaps, but then Chicago wouldn’t have received the prestigious award of “most corrupt city”, as it did this past week.

A report released Tuesday ranks Chicago as the most corrupt city in the country and Illinois as the third-most corrupt state.

“What we find is a very dreary picture. In nearly every sector, whether you talk about aldermen, you talk about Chicago schools, you talk about contracts, in every area corruption is still rife in the city of Chicago,” said Dick Simpson, lead author of the “Continuing Corruption in Illinois” study and a University of Illinois Chicago political science professor.

We did it! Suck it, every city in New Jersey! My hometown is the corruptest place in the land. And, as the UIC report notes, Chicago won this much sought after award in no small part to the very red light camera system we mentioned above.

Chicago’s red light camera scandal sent an assistant transportation department commission to prison for bribery and extortion.

“What that means is that it’s harder to get businesses to come here because of its corrupt state, we’re losing population and corruption is one of the reasons we’re losing population. We have undermined faith in government,” Simpson said.

Asked to comment on the UIC report, Mayor Rahm Emanuel responded by noting how awesome a job he’s done at not being corrupt, despite that not being the framing of the question at all. But that’s the kind of response you can expect from Rahm, who has overseen the most corrupt city’s government for more than seven years now. It has been under his watch that the camera system has flourished into the corruption monster it now is, not to mention it being under his watch that the Chicago Police Department has become the butt of a national joke.

So pop the champagne, fellow Chicago residents. It took a lot of hard work and effort, but we made it!

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Comments on “Chicago Wins 'Most Corrupt City' Award Due In No Small Part To Its Awful Redlight Camera System”

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29 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Chicago, the joke that tells itself

The definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expect a different outcome.

Stop electing the same leaders from that same party without trying the alternatives and watch the corruption end.

You need to shake up the etch a sketch of state and city politics by changing sides every few decades. Seems to be working for Maryland.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Chicago, the joke that tells itself

I find it hard to believe that Chicago is the most corrupt. There’s no evidence Chicago tried to bribe its way out of this report, and wouldn’t a truly corrupt city try to do that? Unless the notoriety is a form of advertisement, to attract (dirty) money to the city.

ShadowNinja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Chicago, the joke that tells itself

I find the fact that some corrupt officials went to jail to be evidence that Chicago isn’t the most corrupt.

The most corrupt city would be one where no one goes to jail for their corruption.

That’s why I always roll my eyes at reports that claim that mostly empty rural states are the least corrupt. Illinois should take it as a badge of honor that they’ve successfully convicted so many former governors on corruption charges, instead of letting them get away with it.

OA (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Chicago, the joke that tells itself

I find the fact that some corrupt officials went to jail to be evidence that Chicago isn’t the most corrupt.

The most corrupt city would be one where no one goes to jail for their corruption.

You took the words right out of my mouth [next time, ask first :)].

I remember a long time ago someone telling me about a "bad neighborhood" because someone got mugged. I said, "nope!". A bad neighborhood is where you mugged out in the open, in broad daylight, with lots of witnesses and no justice… We’ve got a lot of "bad neighborhoods" these days. A situation ‘we’ could have seen coming.

nerd bert (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Chicago, the joke that tells itself

Not quite true. You’ll note that the convictions were based on Federal investigations, not state/city investigations. The city itself is quite corrupt, it’s just that there is an entity outside the city and state that managed to get a conviction.

This whole situation makes me ask if Reynolds v. Sims wasn’t wrongly decided. If downstate Illinois had adequate representation in the state Senate perhaps Illinois might be able to police the corruption in Chicago. As it stands now, Chicago calls the shots at the state level and Chicago power brokers can deflect any investigation that they find inconvenient.

Agammamon says:

Re: Chicago, the joke that tells itself

Given that the differences between the two major parties on a national scale are mainly in the details – just voting the bastards out of office isn’t enough.

1. People need to stop voting in the other bastard to replace the last one.

2. A pol or two hanging from a lampost every once in a while would make the rest a little more attentive.

The root problem is that politics is a route to consequence-free power. If people would interject some genuine consequences in. But pols are also really good at playing up division between groups and keeping us at each other’s throats just to try to keep from getting screwed.

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: Re: Chicago, the joke that tells itself

This. Our two major parties here in the US are both STRONGLY totalitarian on the totalitarian/libertarian axis, even if they look like opponents at first glance on the progressive/conservative axis. They both agree that the citizens have too many rights, they just disagree on which right needs to go first.

When given a choice between the ideological heirs of Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler, and knowing that the vast majority of citizens vote their party even if the party candidate is horrific (so voting for a minority party candidate is a wasted vote) there is no lesser evil to choose.

OA (profile) says:

Re: Re: Chicago, the joke that tells itself

Given that the differences between the two major parties on a national scale are mainly in the details – just voting the bastards out of office isn’t enough.

  1. People need to stop voting in the other bastard to replace the last one.

I’m thinking that the most important part of voting occurs at those times when we are NOT voting, before campaign seasons start. Choices become limited once politics degrade to a question of which candidate and which party. Significant power is in deciding who can run for office and what issues are important. The electorate’s power is weak if that power is concentrated only on election days.

The root problem is that politics is a route to consequence-free power.

Not quite. As a society we tolerate or even promote responsibility-free power (even outside politics). The difference can be subtle, at times, but still important. Responsibility requires us to understand where power truly lies. Consequences requires us to understand where blame truly lies. The first is proactive and can help build future progress. The second is reactive and can create negative incentives… Summary?: "Consequences" as a lead motivator is an aggression, a limited use tool.

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re: Chicago, the joke that tells itself

People need to stop voting in the other bastard to replace the last one.

Easy to say; hard to achieve.

A first-past-the-post electoral process naturally leads to a two-party system. This is sometimes called Duverger’s Law.

We can’t practically implement a multi-party system as long as we elect on a simple plurality.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: corruption

Are you a troll with an active imagination or a serious man on a mission?

There are 50 seats in Chicago’s city council, so getting around to all of them would be somewhat time consuming, even without the presence of the armed bailiffs protecting them. And needless to say, walking into the building carrying an AR-15 while wearing a tactical vest bristling with extra magazines is guaranteed to attract attention from the guards long before you even get to the metal detector checkpoint..

In short, it’s a worthless, stupid plan which would accomplish nothing, except maybe getting even more gun control laws passed.

And then why would you want to kill everyone’s distant relatives? Many of us barely even know our aunts and cousins, and then may or may not even like them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Take their time

If you want to remove the element of corruption from red light cameras, stop fining violators. Assign them 20 hours of community service instead. That way, the city is not getting income from the cameras.

Also, the cameras should use video, and record segments 30 seconds before to 30 seconds after each incident.

Jim says:

California is most corrupt - Fremont and Culver City

For most corrupt, I nominate two California cities: Fremont and Culver City.

Fremont forced their engineers to approve illegally low speed limits in order to justify too short yellows on their redlight cameras.

Culver City puts their cameras at intersections known to not have an accident problem. It’s obviously just for the income.

Here is a little secret about the tickets from Culver City and the other cities in the LA area: They can be ignored!
Skeptical? Do a search on red light camera no consequence.

Professor Ronny says:

Chicago Wins 'Most Corrupt City' Award

I don’t know about Chicago but I lived in Illinois for five years (Quincy) and was very happy with the experience. I never had any experience with the city or county government that seemed remotely corrupt. The few times I dealt with the state government, it was all either positive or neutral.

Now, I know a sample size of one yields a fairly large standard deviation, but I did want to point out that not everyone views Illinois negatively since the article and comments did veer into state territory.

jcwconsult (profile) says:

Corrupt ticket cameras

Chicago, along with DC, runs one of the most corrupt ticket camera rackets in the nation. The tickets go to mostly safe drivers to steal money “for the dastardly crime of driving safely for the actual conditions”. Chicago residents should revolt over the larcenous programs and vote out every camera supporting Alderman and other officials who condone these programs to steal from mostly safe drivers.

James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

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