Mayor Rahm's new advisory board: Advise and consent but no dissent



Why is Rahm smiling? Because his advisory board will do whatever he tells them!
Big news from City Hall: Mayor Rahm's appointed another advisory board.

I knew you'd be excited.

It's called the Advisory Members of the Chicago Infrastructure Trust Board of Directors. A name that just rolls off the tongue. Here's the press release.

Their role—as the title suggests—is to advise the members of the Infrastructure Trust, which is itself essentially an advisory board to the City Council.

The Trust's advice to the council—when they get around to giving it—will generally go like this: Do what the mayor says or else!

As if the council needs advice to do that.

As you recall, the Infrastructure Trust is Mayor Emanuel's scheme to get you—the clueless taxpayer—to pay more than it would ordinarily cost to borrow money to fund public works projects.

The mayor can shower that extra money on his cronies—unions included—who will reward him with contributions and endorsements.

As I may have written a few times.

As you also know, the mayor carefully scrutinizes each appointee to every board to guarantee that he never, ever gets a no vote on anything he proposes.

This is called—democracy in Chicago!

The Infrastructure Trust advisory board consists of MarySue Barrett, a former aide to Mayor Daley; Alderman Latasha Thomas, who's loyal to the mayor even by City Council standards; and two union guys—Damon Silvers, of the AFL-CIO, and Tom Villanova, president of the Chicago Construction Trade Council.

In City Hall, they're known as obedient union leaders. Unlike the disobedient ones—i.e., Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union, which has been blasting city tax breaks and handouts to "fat cats."

The mayor hasn't talked to Lewis since August of 2011. It doesn't look like he'll be seeking her advice on anything anytime soon.

The advisory board also includes David Dohnalek, vice president of finance for Boeing. One of the world's wealthiest producers of airplanes, Boeing still received about $24 million in public dollars when it moved its headquarter to Chicago.

The trust's chairman, James Bell, is a former Boeing executive.

Finally, the advisory board includes city treasurer Stefanie Neely.

Confession time!

I've had a soft spot in my heart for Neely since her 2006 City Council confirmation hearing, where she had the following exchange with former alderman Ed Smith.

Smith: "You talk about your relationship with elected officials. You should grab them and kiss them because you are going to need them."

Neely: "Is that an invitation, sir?"

Well, you've got to admit, she's quick on her feet.

I'm not sure why the trust needs an advisory council since they're only going to do what the mayor tells them. Unless it's to continue spinning the fantasy of a benevolent mayor bringing great minds together to find solutions to vexing problems.

Well, as long as everyone's having fun, who am I to complain?

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