NBC5 has an update listing the people involved and video here: New Corruption Charges Hit Building, Zoning Departments
Chicago Tribune: U.S. to announce charges against 15 in city bribe-taking probe
(thanks to Dan M. for the tip)
Federal authorities are set to announce charges Thursday against 15 people, including seven City of Chicago employees, after an investigation into bribe-taking at the city’s Zoning and Building Departments.
City Hall’s zoning process is the subject of the Tribune’s ongoing “Neighborhood for Sale” series. The stories detail how millions of dollars in campaign donations greased zoning changes that transformed the city during the real estate boom of the past decade.
What’s scary is that land use is so regulated and the stakes are so high, that developers have to bribe government employees in order to exercise their own property rights. But, that’s how it works: politicians downzone areas, knowing that developers will have to scratch the politicians’ backs to build what the market tells them. There’s often the added political bonus of downzoning to pander to NIMBY factions.
The downzoning creates a barrier to entry so that only the developers who are politically savvy can get things done. (see Tony Rezko) It makes the whole planning/development system corrupt. Should we be a bit surprised bribery is happening?