by Ben Joravsky
In the midst of spending his time trying to bring a casino to Chicago, he dashed over to the banks of the Chicago River to attend a ground-breaking ceremony for River Point.
That's the upscale office skyscraper subsidized with $29.5 million of your hard-earned property tax dollars taken from the mayoral slush fund known as TIF.
Or tax increment financing, to be proper about things.
In the TIF program, the city diverts over $200 million a year from the Chicago Public Schools—currently about $1 billion in debt—to fund much-needed economic development and eradicate blight in low-income neighborhoods.
Of course, in the case of River Point, the area is neither low-income nor blighted. It is instead in River North, one of the hottest real estate markets in town.
Why, you ask, would the mayor take money intended for poor neighborhoods and spend it on upscale developments on the rich end of town?
'Cause he wants to—and if you don’t like it? Well, consider what he (pretty much) told Sam Holloway when the firefighter pointed out that Rahm didn't have to cut the pensions of old firefighters if he just raised taxes on rich commodities traders and brokers instead of giving them tax breaks: "Run against me!"
In the picture the Tribune ran of the River Point ground-breaking scene, Mayor Rahm and a developer are laughing as if they're sharing a private joke.
The punch line of which is: Can you believe we get away with this shit?
The caption under the photo reads: "Mayor Rahm Emanuel, seen here shaking hands with Daniel Fournier, CEO of property development firm Ivanhoe Cambridge, has been tapping into a network of venture capitalists, law firms and leaders of his economic-development team to build up his re-election war chest."
That about sums it all up.
Now I can understand why the developers of River Point would be happy. I mean, it's not everybody who gets a $29.5 million handout from the taxpayers.
But why is the mayor so gleeful?
Oh, yeah, that was explained in the Tribune story, by Jeff Coen and John Chase, that the picture accompanied. Coen and Chase reported that the mayor raised "more than $567,000 in the last quarter of 2012" with "more than $87,000 brought in since the start of January."
Just in case firefighter Sam—or anyone—is actually thinking about running.
Personally, if I were the so-called Democratic mayor of a city with dead-broke schools and shamelessly high murder and unemployment rates, I'd be a little embarrassed to gleefully dispense millions to rich people who don't need it.
But the mayor's always been fortified with a strong I-don't-give-a-shit-about-you attitude that immunizes him from normal feelings of shame and enables him to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming the next Herbert Hoover.
Albeit trimmer and more fit.
Meanwhile, the mayor plows ahead with plans to build a casino in Chicago. Which, he assures us, is all about generating new taxes—largely squeezed from the suckers who gamble away their cash—for those dead-broke schools.
One way or another, you're paying for it, people.
Well, I'm happy the mayor's happy. Just another glorious day in the empire of Mayor Rahm.