#1 Illinois Is Trying. It Really Is. But the Most Corrupt State Is Actually . . .
01-06-2009, 06:14 PM
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- Aug 2005
Illinois Is Trying. It Really Is. But the Most Corrupt State Is Actually . . .
Where is officialdom most crooked? Last week, many guessed it must be Illinois, after news that Gov. Rod Blagojevich was taped making brazen personal demands in exchange for his selection of a Senate successor to President-elect Barack Obama.
The state's image took a hit despite its long history of producing famously principled political figures, from the bowtied Senator Paul Simon to the great man on the penny.
But bloggers from competing hotbeds of wrongdoing proclaimed that theirs were the worst officials in the land, thank you. New Jerseyans seemed especially sure that their leadership came out on top in the race to the bottom.
Not so. And not so for Illinois, either.
There are several ways to gauge levels of government corruption, all of them a bit, well, corrupt. We present three methods here in the interest of keeping the arguments going.
Number of Guilty Officials (Graphic)
In a Department of Justice tally covering the last decade, Florida wins by its sheer number of guilty. The report, released last week, itemizes convictions in federal public corruption cases at local, state and federal levels in the 50 states, the District of Columbia and three United States territories.
Illinois ranks only seventh, with 502 convictions. At the squeaky-clean end of the scale, Nebraska barely managed an average of about one guilty official per year.
But the bigger the state, generally, the more officials it has, criminal or otherwise. So places like Florida, New York and Texas pile up big numbers. Let's adjust the data for population.
The Guilty, per Capita (Graphic)
A better measure, perhaps, showing how many convicted officials are produced for every one million constituents. Seems fair - unless you're North Dakota.
The District of Columbia wins big, for obvious reasons: its high concentration of public officials amid a relatively small population. Also, the local United States attorney's office focuses on rooting out corruption, adding to conviction rates.
USA Today published a similar list last week, declaring North Dakota the most corrupt state. Statewide outrage followed. (The newspaper omitted the District and the United States territories.) Mike Jacobs, the editor and publisher of the Grand Forks Herald, called it "a stunning and incomprehensible result" and could recall few cases of public misdeeds over his four decades in North Dakota journalism. (One that sprang into his mind: the head of a state office who was accused of shoplifting peanuts in a grocery store. The charges were dropped. That was in 1981.)
“It also didn’t rank “stupidity” and New Jersey’s politicians definitely rank at the top ~ recently their Senator, Frank Lautenburg, got caught giving all his money to Bernie Madoff”
Please!! Be respectful of his age, incompetence and stupidity. Use his proper title, “Senator For Life, Frank L...”
11 posted on Tuesday, January 06, 2009 5:04:24 PM by Postman
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Oh, darn, I hate it when I forget hish highness' entire title.
He's still stupid ~ and possibly the stupidest Senator in the history of the Republic.
12 posted on Tuesday, January 06, 2009 5:07:40 PM by muawiyah
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Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey and Massachusetts go to the Corruption World Series every year. This is why they are known as the Big Five.
Rhode Island was fielding some promising teams and was challenging Massachusetts, but then the bill for the Big Dig came in. Some parts of the Big Dig went 17 times over budget, which goes to prove that the great ones never lose it. Massachusetts' place is secure.
New York was showing promise under manager Elliott Spitzer, but he got caught and ruined their comeback. New manager David Patterson has some things in his background that indicate a promising future for New York, but my own gut instinct is that he doesn't have the moves or instincts to field a really great corruption team. New Jersey's place is secure.
New York sent some of America's greatest corruption teams to the World Series a century ago, but reform governors like Theodore Roosevelt, Al Smith and Tom Dewey sent New York back to the minors for generations.
New York was truly bipartisan. The Democrats had Tammany Hall, honed to perfection by founding manager Aaron Burr, and the Republicans had the Black Horse Cavalry. These teams had pitching and hitting, but above all they had stealing.
Look at the players New York sent to the Corruption Hall of Fame in New Orleans.
Tammany catcher Sam Swartwout, appointed to Collector of the Port of New York by Andrew Jackson, set the record for stealing and had to abscond to Europe. But then William Marcy Tweed, whose record for theft in modern money would be measured in billions, demolished Swartwout's record. Tweed still holds the all time record for stealing.
But the Black Horse Cavalry weren't slouches either. With founding manager Thurlow Weed and ace pitcher Roscoe Conkling, the Cavalry set its own records after the Civil War. One of the Cavalry, appointed to Collector of the Port of New York, actually made it to the presidency. Yes, Chester Alan Arthur set the all time record for rising to the top.
Arthur, whose wife had died some time in the past, had a full time whore on the White House staff. Harry Truman used to tickle audiences when he said of Arthur, "Back in Missoura, we called that being a 'widower with means.'"
Theodore Roosevelt and Al Smith buried the Black Horse Cavalry, and Republican New York City mayor Fiorello LaGuardia took Tammany Hall, castrated it and then stuffed and mounted it. An era came to an end.
Back in the days when New York ruled the Corruption League, California was always a contender. Back then, California was a wholly owned subsidiary of the Southern Pacific Railroad, a company not afraid to spend the money necessary to keep the state in the playoffs. Then reform governor Hiram Johnson instituted government by initiative, referendum and recall, and California left the playoffs. I note with no small amount of horror that governors like Earl Warren, Goodwin Knight and Pat Brown built thousands of miles of freeways with only a moderate amount of graft. (Shame!)
Pennsylvania (King Coal) and Montana (Anaconda Copper) sent some fine teams to the playoffs in the 19th Century, and the Dixie Division (King Cotton) was always good for some thrilling plays.
But Louisiana, perennial king of the Dixie Division, deserves special mention. From the earliest days of its statehood it made the playoffs every year. In 1844, chicanery in New Orleans and New York (Tammany!) permitted Democrat James Polk to steal the election from Whig Henry Clay, thus starting one of America's greatest traditions. We'll have to see if Bobby Jindal can make history.
Illinois, however, has been catapulted to the top by Governor Blago's latest escapade. The other members of the Big Five have a lot to live down to.
It's going to be a thrilling season!
01-06-2009, 06:20 PM
It's kinda of off to rank based on those who get caught . . . .Stand up for what is right, even if you have to stand alone.
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