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That's it! I'm through with this wretched rag once and for all! And I'm heretofore canceling my subscription, even if that means doing without Zits (great cartoon) and K.C. Johnson's insightful coverage of my beloved Bulls.
At which point I broke out into a sweat, like a junkie going cold turkey.
But then to the rescue came the investigative reportorial tag team of Heather Gillers and Jason Grotto, who socked it to the man with their three-part examination of the slimy world of Chicago Public School bonding policies. Their stories got me so fired up that I decided not to cancel—though the editorial board remains on a tightly scrutinized probation. Thus, I will continue to keep yet another newspaper financially afloat—that's three—with my generous home subscriptions.
You're welcome, Tribsters.
In a nutshell, Gillers and Grotto described in exacting details how our fiduciary watchdogs at CPS engaged in a series of speculative loans that largely favored the investment bankers making the loans.
The result is that we—the dumbass taxpayers—are paying at least $100 million more in interest than we would have paid had they just borrowed the money at fixed rates. You know—the boring, old-fashioned way, like any ordinary shmo who buys a house.
Proving once against that when it comes to deciding which master to serve—their Wall Street pals or the general public—Mayors Daley and Rahm can't be trusted to do the right thing.
There are many great details to the Tribune stories that I'll be delving into at a later time.
But what's interested me most at the moment is Mayor Emanuel's response.
Yes, it's true, most of these cockamamie bond deals occurred under Mayor Daley.
But the CPS official who oversaw the bond deals is David Vitale, who's now Mayor E's hand-picked school board president.
So you could say that Mayor Emanuel essentially promoted Vitale. Which is kind of like if the Bears promoted Jay Cutler to offensive coordinator, after last Sunday's disaster against Green Bay.
Plus, as Gillers points out, Mayor Rahm's administration also engaged in some of these goofy borrowing deals.
So how would the mayor react to the Tribune's stories? Would he thunder against this outrageous assault on the public purse? Would he call for heads to roll? Would he launch an investigation? Would he march into investment houses and demand that the bankers pay back the $100 million, like he used to march into fire stations—backed by body guards, of course—and demand that firefighters give up their pensions?
Alas, he said nothing. As though he were just waiting for the embarrassment to blow away.
Then on Wednesday, reporters confronted him at a City Hall press conference where he was waxing eloquently about hiking the minimum wage.
Talk about a swap! The lowest-paid workers will get an $1.25-an-hour raise and the highest-paid investment bankers will get $100 million.
Clearly, I went into the wrong profession.
When pressed about the Gillers/Grotto revelations, Mayor Emanuel did what he usually does at such moments—he blamed it on Mayor Daley, without mentioning him by name, naturally.
Then he went on to say he's balanced the budget and held the line on taxes. Neither of which is true or relevant.
Pressed harder as to why he doesn't try to retrieve some portion of that $100 million, Mayor Rahm morphed into Law Professor Rahm.
"There's a thing called a contract," he said.
In other words, a contract between the city and investment bankers—like ones between the city and parking meter companies—is etched in stone. As though it were on a tablet sent down from the Lord above.
But pension contracts with firefighters, teachers, and cops are drawn in sand. And can be washed away with every changing tide.
Thanks for your insights, Professor Rahm. I look forward to your next lecture—why everyone else has to abide by traffic laws except for you.