Moral bankruptcy

Bankrupt Detroit played host to an official corruption scandal that, by comparison, makes Illinois politicians look like pikers.

Many Illinois residents like to think their state has a virtual monopoly on government corruption, that it couldn't be any worse in other states than it is here.

Give the devil his due — government in Illinois is the equivalent of an open sewer. But other states have their problems, and one of them is Michigan, where former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick this week was sentenced to 28 years in federal prison.

Kilpatrick must have realized he was in deep trouble when his lawyer urged U.S. Judge Nancy Edmunds to give Kilpatrick a break by imposing a sentence of just 15 years. Edmunds, however, wasn't pulling her punches, imposing what is being described as the longest federal sentence ever in a criminal corruption case.

Hey, former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, convicted in connection with a long-running extortion scheme and trying to sell a U.S. Senate seat, only got 14 years.

Kilpatrick's laundry list of crimes is extensive. He is among 34 people, so far, who have been convicted of participating in a vast racketeering scheme run out of city hall. News reports indicate that Kilpatrick arranged for millions of dollars in payments to himself and members of his family.

Needless to say, this is not the kind of corruption that cash-strapped cities can afford, let alone bankrupt municipalities like Detroit. But Kilpatrick's illegal conduct is emblematic of a thought process among corrupt politicians who care only about looking out for themselves.

Kilpatrick didn't realize it when he was rolling in dough. But the nest he ultimately was feathering was a federal prison where he'll serve most, if not all, of the rest of his life.

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