STUMP » Articles » Illinois Connections Watch: Usual Biz in Chicago » 29 October 2014, 14:35

Where Stu & MP spout off about everything.

Illinois Connections Watch: Usual Biz in Chicago  


29 October 2014, 14:35

As per the last post on Rauner, something odd has been going on in Chicago:

Eighty-five cents of every dollar spent by Chicago main’s tourism promoter, Choose Chicago, comes out of your pocket as a taxpayer. That works out to $28.4 million for a year.

But Choose Chicago doesn’t have to tell you how it spends your money because technically it is not a public agency. Choose Chicago lives off your money like a rich kid lives off his daddy’s trust fund, but it is allowed by state law to pretend to be a private, not-for-profit business.

Too bad. Because best we can tell, based on what Sun-Times reporter Chris Fusco recently found when he turned over a few rocks, Choose Chicago is playing the same old political insider’s game for which Illinois and Chicago are notorious. Who gets a consulting contract and who gets hired seem remarkably aligned with Choose Chicago’s desire to curry favor with the single most powerful elected official in Illinois, House Speaker Mike Madigan.

And by “odd”, I mean completely usual for Chicago.

Is it my imagination or has the banking and private-equity crowd taken over?

I’d call it a coup, except this crowd has been running the show for years. Most of us just weren’t paying enough attention to notice.

For starters, Mayor Emanuel is an investment banker. Or he used to be, in the three years between leaving the Clinton White House and running for Congress in 2002.

In that period Emanuel made about $18 million, putting together deals by tapping connections he made in the White House.

This led to one of the great exchanges of my journalistic career, when, back in 2002, I was granted an audience with his Rahmship while he was running for Congress.

I asked him how someone becomes an investment banker. Do you have to start as a teller and work your way up?

As I recall, he gave me his patented kiss-my-ass look—the one we’ve all come to know and love—and took a call on his cell. Our relationship has been going downhill ever since.

As you might have heard, Emanuel’s mentor during his short but sweet banking career was Rauner, who made hundreds of millions of dollars buying and selling other businesses through GTCR, his former investment firm.

Should Rauner win, we can look forward to having one financial wheeler-dealer running the city and another running the state.

You imagined some sort of squeaky-clean candidate on the Republican side?


It’s Illinois. Corruption/connections is a bipartisan thing.

Again, I shouldn’t be throwing stones from the glass house that is New York, but one gets amusement where one can.

Compilation of Chicago posts.

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