by Don Washington on 2011/12/07
“The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist." – Kaiser Sose
When I got a look at Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s new selections to the Ethics Reform Task Force I almost forgot that his Congressional campaigns were powered by hired thugs from the Hired Truck scandal or that his stint at Fannie Mae could be summed up as he was so incompetent that the multi-million dollar campaign fraud that benefitted only one Democrat, him went on or he didn’t show up for six-figure payday so he didn’t know about it or he was right at its corrupt center orchestrating the deal. I almost forgot that he’s actively hiding the goings on of the World Business Chicago board and won’t give up the records of his various dealings with all manner of powerful corporate executives. To call his efforts at transparency to date window dressing is an embarrassment to windows. (Wait for it, the joke will come.) Fortunately I almost forgot. I didn't suffer permanent amnesia. What I remembered is what these appointments tell me about whom and what Mayor Rahm Emanuel is. As we have said at the Tutorial for months now, the days of old-timey corruption are over. Mayor Emanuel is not interested in stealing from the system… he’s interested in stealing the system on a permanent basis.
There can be no doubt that Cindi Carnary, Dawn Clark Netsch, Sergio Acosta and Ald. Will Burns are honorable and reputable people (Will’s incredibly craven vote for the budget from Hell aside.). I fully expect them to come up with rules and regulations around the boring corruption that defined the Daley Administration. We’re not going to read about how a Marchese, Duff, D’Angelo, Crandall, Smit, Teele, Huels and Vanecko frauds. Frankly that kind of low-level hijinks is below the pay grade of our Mayor’s campaign investors. They already have fortunes. For them, the leaders at World Business Chicago, the Civic Federation or For a Better Chicago or G.E. or the arch-felons and on-going criminal conspiracy/enterprise aka Goldman Sachs to get caught in something like a contracting scandal is I daresay gauche. This is not to say that there will not be old-timey corruption to look into and discover. “Silent” Joe Ferguson has so many things for them look into it is almost embarrassing.
Remember when Daley first took over the schools and they kept “finding” pockets of waste and corruption and trotting them out at intervals like the dead body of a terrorist or 14-point buck for the media? It’s almost like Rahm was working for Daley when that happened… wait a second…. So I expect we will soon see some spectacular revelations, court cases and probably some prosecutions. Who knows, maybe we’ll see some high-level prosecutions of people who can’t make the leap from stealing with a briefcase to making the entire process an ethical “crime”. (I’m talking to you Victor Reyes but it’s possible that you’ve evolved enough to make the jump and won’t be seen as a possible competitor.) For example, prior to the repeal of Glass Steagall virtually everything that Goldman Sachs has done to wreck such havoc on our economy was illegal. Now, even though many of the things they’ve done are straight up frauds, a number of them were only possible due to a repeal of the law and a number of their practices though not frauds are now not even under regulation. We call it regulatory capture.
That’s the sort of thing our new sharp-shooters will have to be looking into. This Chicago Microlending Institute, from how the loans are given, to how they are being re-sold, packaged, speculated on and the like needs to be looked into and constantly paid attention to. We need to know every meeting that the World Business Chicago people are engaged in and any deal they are putting together. When a city service gets privatized we better be really clear on what the deliverables are for the city and how much profit the new proprietors are allowed to take out of the process. That’s right, just like the feds saying that 80 to 85% of healthcare has to be spent on the service we need to see the same kind of things applied to any new deals that open any new markets. We just saw a $1.1 million dollar accounting error come rolling out of a stadium deal. Small potatoes, not what we need to be thinking too hard about but if these same accounting genii, that’s genius plural, are coming up with ways to use TIF funds or investing the pension funds or are tangled up in bonding issues that is an area for investigation and concern.
So old-timey corruption is out and we can expect the new ethics team to discover a lot of it as no one looks into the moral hazard posed by schools, charters, as a for-profit endeavor, for example. Remember, Rahm Emanuel is a foe of the government and a servant/agent of corporate interests. With him, as a public what we want the ethics people up to his neck and inside his underwear on is how he is relating to those entities and how much oversight is focused on them. We want the strictest possible rules dropped on them possible and we don’t want tax breaks flowing to them out of the public coffers to do things for them that they should do themselves. We also don’t want them contributing less to the public coffers while continuing to drain cash out of the public to support them. Those are the kinds of things our ethics laws need to be paying attention to. How the elimination of the corporate head tax came into being and who benefits and what is G.E. Capital getting for coming here? See, no one even thinks that’s worth looking into but guess what… these sorts of deals have the potential to structurally deprive the city in billions of dollars in revenue while making corporations even richer and more powerful. Something to think about and something for our friends of spend a lot of time examining.