The Solution to Chicago Corruption

Editorial written by James Baughn on Monday, August 8, 2005

from the turning-the-tables dept.

Another day, another indictment. That seems to be the storyline behind Chicago and Illinois governments, where the supply of bribery and hiring schemes is virtually unlimited.

Meanwhile, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley has spearheaded a crackdown on criminal activity. His city is installing wave after wave of surveillance cameras and microphones.

Unfortunately, the real criminals in the city -- who typically dwell within the rat's nest known as City Hall -- will not be monitored by these devices. Instead, these expensive toys will be focused on ordinary, innocent bystanders walking down public streets.

It's a shame, really. The application of these high-tech anti-crime tools could be just the ticket to end Chicago's long-running love affair with official misconduct.

According to the breathless announcements made by the city, these cameras and microphones are connected to computer systems that look for patterns suggesting criminal activity. They can also detect gunfire and notify law enforcement officials in real-time.

If this is all possible, then surely the same systems could be adapted to detect corrupt activities within city and state officies. Every public office, hallway, parking garage, and dark corner alley could be closely monitored for sinister transactions, illicit conversations, and scandalous book cooking. Instead of gunshots, this Big Brother technology could listen closely for the sounds of briefcases opening, the riffling of stacks of crisp $100 bills, or the 135 different slang terms for bribery.

There's really no excuse not to implement such a system. If innocent bystanders within downtown Chicago are going to have their privacy constantly infringed, then city employees and elected officials -- who are supposedly public servants -- should have absolutely no objections against having cameras monitor their each and every move through each and every minute of the day.

Anything less would be hypocritical. Details about all activities within public buildings by publicly-funded workers must be readily available to the public. Period.

Mayor Daley and his cronies want to spy on the public, while they remain hidden behind the walls of City Hall, able to engage in who-knows-what shenanigans. Even with the recent flurry of indictments and investigations, it's hard telling what kinds of other evil deeds are transpiring deep within the bowels of the Windy City. It's high time we find out.