‘Corrupt Illinois’ discussion on Feb. 10

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Thomas J. Gradel and Dick Simpson will discuss their new book, Corrupt Illinois: Patronage, Cronyism, and Criminality, in a Society of Midland Authors program Tuesday, Feb. 10, at Cliff Dwellers Club, 200 S. Michigan Ave., 22nd floor, Chicago. They will speak at 7 p.m. A social hour, with complimentary snacks and a cash bar, begins at 6 p.m. The program is free and open to the public. No advance registration is required.

Published this month by the University of Illinois Press, the book examines Illinois’ notorious culture of corruption, its historical roots and explains the reasons its political corruption continues to thrive well into the second decade of the 21st century.

Gradel and Simpson describe the history of political corruption in the Prairie State from vote rigging in 1833, when Chicago was first incorporated, and trace the dishonorable tradition through the criminal convictions of four of the last nine Illinois governors, a $53 million embezzlement by a downstate official, and the blizzard of bribery, extortion, tax fraud and other crimes that have led to the conviction of 33 Chicago aldermen.

Gradel, a former political media consultant, is a freelance writer and political researcher. Simpson is a political science professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, a former Chicago alderman and a former candidate for Congress. The authors spent the past seven years researching and documenting political corruption in Chicago, Cook County, the suburbs, and in Springfield and numerous downstate cities and towns.

Drawing on research assistance from a number of UIC graduate and undergraduate students, the authors published seven anti-corruption reports and compiled a database of more than 700 Illinois elected officials, government employees, and their cronies who had been convicted of corruption since 1956.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

Tuesday, March 10, 6 p.m. social hour, 7 p.m. talk, at Cliff Dwellers Club, 200 S. Michigan Ave., 22nd floor, Chicago: Patrick T. McBriarty discusses his book, “Chicago River Bridges” — the untold history and development of Chicago’s iconic bridges, from the first wood footbridge built by a tavern owner in 1832 to the fantastic marvels of steel, concrete and machinery of today.

Tuesday, April 14, 6 p.m. social hour, 7 p.m. talk, at Cliff Dwellers Club, 200 S. Michigan Ave., 22nd floor, Chicago: Poet Roger Bonair-Agard, winner of the Society of Midland Authors Award for his 2013 book “Bury My Clothes.”