Pennsylvania is a state with a rich history, culture, and natural beauty, but not all of its cities offer an equally appealing living environment. Some of them have been struggling with issues such as high crime rates, poverty, and political corruption for a long time. One such city is Chester, located south of Philadelphia, which has earned the dubious distinction of being labeled the most corrupt city in the state by multiple sources.
What Makes Chester So Corrupt?
Chester is home to approximately 32,600 residents and is situated in Delaware County, nestled between the Delaware River and Center City Philadelphia. It was once a thriving industrial hub, teeming with shipyards, steel mills, and textile factories. However, since the 1960s, Chester has faced challenges such as deindustrialization, urban decay, and racial tensions. This has led to businesses and residents abandoning the city, resulting in vacant buildings, unemployment, and an increase in crime.
Chester has also earned notoriety for its political corruption, which has eroded public trust and accountability. A report from the Pennsylvania Auditor General revealed that Chester has been under a state of financial distress since 1995, receiving over $62 million in state aid. However, the city has failed to implement effective financial management and oversight, leading to instances of waste, fraud, and the misappropriation of public funds.
Some noteworthy instances of corruption in Chester include:
In 2017, former Chester mayor John Linder pleaded guilty to federal charges of extortion and bribery. He confessed to accepting $4,000 from a businessman in exchange for influencing a city contract.
In 2019, former Chester police officer Roosevelt Turner was sentenced to 18 months in prison for stealing over $20,000 from a drug dealer during a traffic stop. He also admitted to planting drugs and falsifying reports to justify his actions.
In 2020, former Chester city councilwoman Elizabeth Williams faced charges of theft, forgery, and tampering with public records. She was accused of embezzling over $27,000 from a nonprofit organization she managed, using the funds for personal expenses.
What Are the Consequences of Chester’s Corruption?
The repercussions of corruption in Chester have been profound, negatively affecting the city’s quality of life, safety, and reputation. The city consistently ranks among the least desirable places to live in the United States, grappling with a history of high crime and violence. According to the FBI, Chester had a crime rate of 4,389 incidents per 100,000 people in 2020, which was 116% higher than the state average. The city also recorded 24 homicides, making it one of the most dangerous cities in the country.
Chester’s corruption has also hindered the city’s economic development and access to social services. The city has a poverty rate of 38%, which is more than double the state average. The city also has a low median household income of $28,607, which is less than half the state average. The city’s schools are underfunded and underperforming, with a graduation rate of 53%, which is the lowest in the state.
Chester is a city that has been plagued by corruption for decades, resulting in a decline in its social and economic well-being. The city has been named the most corrupt city in the state by various sources, based on the number and severity of corruption cases involving its public officials and employees. The city’s corruption has also contributed to its high crime rate, poverty rate, and low quality of life. Chester is a city that needs urgent reform and intervention to restore its integrity and vitality.