This is a cancer on the Democratic Party.
The papers are full of stories about bribes, payoffs, idle city workers and contractors and taxpayer ripoffs. The feds are investigating, but this is no excuse for our civic failure to eliminate the corruption.
This quote from an FBI agent chilled me:
"I never cease to be amazed at the level of corruption in this city," said Thomas Kneir, the soon-to-retire boss of the FBI's Chicago office, after federal prosecutors unveiled criminal charges against two alleged bribe-taking city officials with a promise of many more defendants in the days ahead.
It's from this Mark Brown column in the Sun-Times.
Why can't we clean up our own house?
We've got a tenuous grip on majority status in Illinois, and if the Republicans are successful at painting 'Chicago Democratic control' of Illinois government as 'corruption and FBI investigations' we're going to have a hard time earning a majority of the vote in 2006.
It's crucial to the growth of the Democratic Party that we eliminate the cancer of old school corruption. How are we going to get taxpayers to spend more money on poor kids who need high-paid teachers if we don't trust the government to spend the money honestly? How are we going to convince the taxpayers to buy health insurance in one big, efficient pool for everyone without parasitic middlemen industries if we don't trust the government? How is the CTA going to get more state money if people don't trust the city government to stamp out featherbedding and patronage desk jobs? We're the victims of corruption. And we have got to stamp this out. We can no longer tolerate a culture of tolerance among Cook County Democrats for corruption.
I think people feel intimidated to crusade against Democratic corruption because of (a) a perception that the best vote-getters either condone or participate in corruption and (b) a perception that the best vote-getters will turn on candidates who campaign against corruption. Maybe (hopefully) I'm wrong. But we need to build up a force in the Cook County Democratic Party that will crusade against corruption -- and earn more votes in primaries for doing so.
Ideas are welcome.