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EDITORIAL: In Harvey, the feds — and April 2 — bring a chance for a fresh start

Harvey Mayor Eric Kellogg in 2003. (Sun-Times file photo)

Harvey Mayor Eric Kellogg in 2003. (Sun-Times file photo)

Early Wednesday morning, the FBI swept down on south suburban Harvey, raiding its police headquarters and municipal office building.

Six people, including relatives of Mayor Eric Kellogg, now face various corruption charges — and the feds appear to be reaching to the top. Kellogg has not been charged, but a criminal complaint implicates him in a kickback scheme involving a local strip-club: Kellogg, the complaint claims, demanded thousands in kickbacks every month in exchange for turning a blind eye to prostitution at the club.

EDITORIAL

No telling how this investigation will end. The feds have been watching Harvey for years. But no matter what, Kellogg finally is on his way out after the April 2 election. Voters, no doubt sick and tired of years of corruption rumors and fiscal mismanagement, approved mayoral term limits in 2016.

We hope better days are ahead for Harvey’s residents. They deserve a fair and honest city government, not the mess they’ve had for too long.

Harvey was at one time a thriving, working-class community. It’s not quite a ghost town these days, but it’s hurting. The streets are lined with abandoned properties. Once-bustling Dixie Square Mall is long gone. So are the factories and other businesses that once provided good jobs.

Kellogg’s administration isn’t entirely at fault, but it has more often than not made things worse. Before this latest scandal, there was wrongdoing at the water department. For years, Harvey bought water from Chicago, resold it to other suburbs, then stiffed Chicago and illegally pocketed or misspent millions to shore up the town’s shaky finances. A Cook County judge blasted the scam as “egregious” and stripped the town of control over its water.

Before the water scandal, there was the hotel deal that seemed like a bad bet from Day 1. City Hall gave a shady developer $10 million to rehab a struggling hotel that was supposed to help jumpstart the local economy. The property ended up in foreclosure. The developer fled to India. The Securities and Exchange Commission sued Kellogg and the city over the deal, saying they defrauded the deal’s investors.

And there was more, such as bad policing in a town beset by crime. Meanwhile, Harvey’s City Council in 2015 tried to bring in Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, as an inspector general, to investigate fraud and corruption allegations. Kellogg shot down the idea.

Harvey voters have a few more weeks before they can turn the page to something better.

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