Editorials

Removing corruption with cold water, rag when bleach, power-washer is required

East St. Louis officials face criminal complaints

St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly discusses the East St. Louis, Illinois, officials who face face criminal complaints.
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St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly discusses the East St. Louis, Illinois, officials who face face criminal complaints.

Don’t ask. Don’t tell: That’s how corruption seeps into the many, many cracks of the metro-east. Not to see Fred Bathon is to be clueless; to see his corruption is an inconvenience. Best to ignore or plead ignorance because scrubbing it clean is a hard, messy job.

We just saw Oliver Hamilton take $230,000 on a government credit card, defraud East St. Louis of $25,000 to fix a shack that wasn’t fixed and enrich himself with drywall and landscaping jobs that came to him because he was connected. All the while living above it all atop the bluffs — not among the area’s poorest residents where this parasite went to feed.

His sweet deal with the feds gave him a year, maybe on home confinement, rather than getting an auditor with a bad attitude after him and putting him away for some real time, unless U.S. District Judge Michael Reagan makes good on his threat. One presumes that Hamilton pointed the maids at others with schmutz on them in exchange for his paddling with a feather duster.

Then we see those results at a news conference Monday.

Most of nine charged are functionaries. Charges state they took bribes for property tax reductions, took trips on the public’s dime, committed vote fraud, got their buddies perks.

They are not pulling the levers on the political machine. And all of this dropped after the election was history.

Hamilton appears to have pointed at his own sister, who has much in common with her dear brother. She is an East St. Louis councilwoman, yet lives in Swansea. She has her fingers in multiple pies. She thinks public funds and programs for poor communities are there to enrich those movin’ on up, their friends and family.

For a look into Hamilton’s and their futures, we look to the past.

When the feds got East St. Louis political boss Charlie Powell in 2006, it was for vote fraud. It wasn’t for pulling those levers. Judges and political bosses threw a going away to the federal pen party for good-old Charlie.

He came back and got more work than he could handle, doing city demolition work. Is that because our local municipalities cannot find a demolition contractor without a felony conviction?

Or is it because Charlie’s been sanitized by taking the fall for those friends at the party who pull the big levers.

Makes you wonder what reward Hamilton’s got coming. Makes it clear why voting residency rules are lax, vote fraud investigations never get to the silver suitcases and why all those people on all those boards don’t notice that something’s wrong with their peers.

Don’t ask. Don’t tell. But eventually the clean-up costs or the corruption is overwhelming — an ooze that, fairly or unfairly, just splattered Alan Dunstan.

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