A legacy of Cook County corruption also means a legacy of expensive problems.
Part of the reason Cook County is struggling with high-maintenance unincorporated areas is that corrupt former officials looked the other way or took bribes to allow substandard development.
Chicago author Richard Lindberg says corruption has a long history in Cook County, dating back to the 1800s, when boodle was the favorite pastime for "a whole raft of Cook County commissioners."
"Wherever they saw a chance to make money, they did," Lindberg says.
As recounted in Lindberg's The Gambler King of Clark Street and other books, a 10-year period of rampant graft culminated in the appointment of Harry A. "Prince Hal" Varnell as warden of the Cook County Insane Asylum and Alms House at Irving Park and Narragansett, which then was out in the country. Varnell's qualifications amounted to being Chicago Democratic boss Mike
McDonald's pool room and saloon lackey.
In another example of blatant graft, Cook County Hospital had a tool shed with 42 lightning rods because the lightning rod manufacturer had the right connections to county officials, Lindberg says.
Follow BackTalk on Twitter@stbacktalk