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Chicago investigator urges reform before Olympics
Associated Press
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Published: 6/30/2009 12:00 AM

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Chicago's inspector general said Monday this corruption-plagued city should turn itself into a model of reform or it could be selected for the 2016 Olympics only to embarrass itself before the world.

Inspector General David Hoffman told the City Club of Chicago that if the city is able to attract the Olympic Games in 2016 it will be a great opportunity for the community to put its best foot forward.

"But what are we going to show?" Hoffman said. "Cost overruns? Corruption? Clout?"

Chicago needs to acknowledge that it is awash in political corruption and not shy away from addressing the problem head on, Hoffman said. But, it's lengthy experience with the problem may have prepared it to turn things around and become a model of corruption-fighting know how, he added.

"Who knows corruption historically better than us?" Hoffman said. "And so who could be better at knowing how to prevent it?"

Chicago's reputation for political corruption goes back decades. Federal prosecutors in recent years found the city outsourcing trucking contracts to politically connected companies that in some cases did minimal work at best.

Some of the companies were tied to the mob.

A former top aide to Mayor Richard M. Daley is currently serving a federal prison sentence for using fraud to hide patronage on the city payroll.

And Hoffman himself is investigating how the mayor's nephew managed to invest in city pension funds.

That only scratches the surface of a problem that goes back a century.

Daley hired Hoffman, a former federal prosecutor, as inspector general only to see him show great independence in the role. With Hoffman's four-year term up this fall, many Chicagoans are wondering if he will stay for another.

Reporters asked Hoffman about that after his City Club remarks.

He said he was still thinking about what he wants to do with his future.