Neo-Liberals Aren’t Just Incompetent, But Corrupt Too: The Rahm Emanuel Edition

The neo-liberal, technowonk, corporate Democratic wing of the Democratic Party has successfully perpetrated two frauds. One, as we often note, is that they are competent. Sure, maybe the other guy seems better, but we’re the ones who get it done (STOP LAUGHING! STOP LAUGHING NOW!). The second fraud is that they’re not corrupt: sure, the other guy says the right things, but he’s a crook–we’re honest.

Former Obama chief-of-staff and neo-liberal rising star, Rahm Emanuel (who is a horrible person) once again puts the lie to the honesty canard (boldface mine; Pando’s links in this story are humongous on the html so go to the original to find them):

Chicago is the iconic example of all of these trends. A new report being released this morning shows that the supposedly budget-strapped Windy City – which for years has not made its full pension payments – actually has mountains of cash sitting in a slush fund controlled by Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Indeed, as the report documents, the slush fund now receives more money each year than it would cost to adequately finance Chicago’s pension funds. Yet, Emanuel is refusing to use the cash from that slush fund to shore up the pensions. Instead, his new pension “reform” proposal cuts pension benefits, requires higher contributions from public employees and raises property taxes in the name of fiscal responsibility. Yet, the same “reform” proposal will actually quietly increase his already bloated slush fund.

But it gets worse: an investigation by Pando has discovered that Emanuel has been using that same slush fund to enrich some of his biggest campaign contributors…

For example, just after Emanuel took office, his apparatchiks on Chicago’s City Council passed that $7 million TIF subsidy that will benefit grocery chain Mariano’s Fresh Market. Mariano’s is owned through a parent company by Willis Stein & Partners, whose CEO gave Emanuel $25,000 just months before the TIF was approved.

Similarly, in the above mentioned data center proposal (which fell through), Emanuel offered to use his TIF authority to let private equity firm Madison Dearborn Partners and real estate company JDI Realty get away with not paying back $7.5 million in TIF money that is still owed to taxpayers. Madison Dearborn Partners is one of Emanuel’s biggest sources of campaign cash.

Then there is Emanuel’s $29 million office-tower TIF. That boondoggle will underwrite the new Chicago headquarters of DLA Piper – the same law firm whose employees have given Emanuel more than $125,000. The law firm will benefit not only from having its leased office space effectively subsidized by taxpayers, but also from the preservation of TIFs in general, as the firm’s Chicago office has a long history of TIF legal work. As just one example of that, DLA Piper is the law firm involved in the $4.5 million TIF Emanuel’s allies engineered for Vienna Beef.

Not to be forgotten is Emanuel’s $55 million TIF for a massive new hotel near Chicago’s convention center. According to the Chicago Tribune, Emanuel appointees on the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority awarded commercial real estate company Jones Lang Lasalle the big construction management contract that will benefit from that huge TIF. One of the largest shareholders of Jones Lang Lasalle is Ariel Investments, whose president gave Emanuel’s campaign $31,500.

During the 2008 campaign, the Republicans tried to use ‘Chicago’ to ‘mob him up.’ The reality, as Obama’s ties with the Pritzker family show, is just the same old sordid local politics that occur everywhere, neo-liberal or not.

Don’t let the elite college sophistication fool you: underneath it all, they’re just incompetent and corrupt, though they do excel at surviving their own mistakes…

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