Thursday, February 14, 2013

Dixon, Illinois: You are not immune from Illinois Corruption Disease

Dixon Arch
Rita Crundwell, the longtime comptroller of Dixon, Illinois who stole $54 million from the city best known as Ronald Reagan's hometown was given a 19 1/2 year prison sentence in a federal court in Rockford today. She still faces state charges

Crundwell used the municipal funds to finance her championship quarter horse breeding business--while Dixon was understandably chronically short of cash.

Dixon, which I've visited a few times, is a wonderful town--I urge you to visit it. Oh, spend some money too. In addition to the Reagan sites--Dixon has a wonderful Bedford Falls feel to it. Just north of town is the John Deere historical site, which I'm ashamed to admit, I have not traveled to--yet.

However--Dixon is suffering from Illinois Corruption Disease. The first step in the cure is to admit that a problem exists. Two years ago, a Republican county board member condemned a proposed ban on nepotism, stating "The majority of nepotism is in Cook County and the collar counties. We're bringing up something we shouldn't be looking at. It hasn't occurred here."

Rock River, Dixon
That ban was voted down. Nepotism wasn't involved in the Crundwell scandal, but the largest municipal employee theft in American history occurred in Lee County--where Dixon is--not Cook.

At the Crundwell sentencing, Dixon's mayor, James Burke, read a statement that there is not a culture of corruption in Dixon.

But corruption is endemic in Illinois.

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