Political corruption is finally a real issue in this corrupt state, because it's led Illinois to financial ruin and now almost every candidate running for something has an anti-corruption message.
Some promise transparency. Others vow to serve only one term. A few candidates -- particularly the smooth, buttoned-down consummate political insiders -- have declared themselves to be complete outsiders and expect voters to believe it.
There is one candidate who not only talks about corruption. He has actually done something about it, but he's not getting much ink.
David Hoffman, running for the U.S. Senate in the Democratic primary, is the former federal prosecutor who investigated sleaze as the city's inspector general, until he committed a series of cardinal sins as far as Mayor Richard Daley was concerned.
The sins? He did his job.
Hoffman angered Daley by issuing a scathing critique of the mayor's outrageously costly parking meter deal. Hoffman's investigations of illegal political patronage also embarrassed City Hall.
But what really frosted Daley was when Hoffman wired up a building inspector and later called in his fed colleagues at 219 S. Dearborn. If the feds ever focus on how city occupancy permits are granted to clout-heavy nightclubs, they might find a treasure trove, a never-ending pinata party with subpoenas instead of candy.
Hoffman also investigated that city pension fund deal involving the mayor's nephew, who received almost $70 million in investments, a deal the mayor said he knew nothing about. City Hall refused to honor subpoenas, so Hoffman again turned things over to federal prosecutors.
If you plan on parking in Chicago any time in the next 75 years, remember the parking rates were increased again last week and will keep going up in the years ahead.
"It was a dubious financial deal," said Hoffman. "Everybody parks on the streets, everybody uses the streets, and there was no public discussion. It makes people feel as if something was imposed upon them from on high."
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Senate Candidate Hoffman
Not an endorsement, just a note that some candidates are as upset about corruption as the rest of us are: