Mayor Rahm searches for his inner Al Sharpton | Bleader

Mayor Rahm searches for his inner Al Sharpton

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Mayor Rahm throws a bone to Chicagos lowest-paid workers—just in time for Februarys election.

On Tuesday I was trudging through the mind-numbing details of Mayor Rahm's latest handout to wealthy bankers when the City Council, at the mayor's urging, voted to hike the minimum wage in Chicago.

Think of it as two contrasting items on the mayor's Christmas gift list.

In the case of the bankers, the mayor's taking up to $17 million from our dead-broke public schools and giving it to a consortium that includes Goldman Sachs, Northern Trust, and the J.B. and M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation.

'Cause these folks really need the money.

And in the case of Chicago's lowest-paid workers, he's jacking up their hourly wage from $8.25 to $10—come July.

Well, that is, their wages will rise if the Illinois Retail Merchants Association doesn't successfully block Chicago's minimum wage hike in court.

Or if the General Assembly doesn't team up with newly elected Governor Rauner to pass a statewide law that preempts it.

By which time, if all goes well for the mayor, he'll be blissfully indifferent to the matter. Having been happily reelected and doing what he does best—throwing out handouts to rich people.

In any event, whatever happens on the minimum wage front will be prominently played up in newspapers and over airwaves as we agonize over whether throwing a bone to the poorest of the poor is the first step toward economic ruin.

You know, people, really not all that much has changed since the days of Charles Dickens.

In case you forgot, the latest bankers' handout is the one where Mayor Rahm decided to fund the expansion of a pre-K program by borrowing the money instead of just paying for it out of the Chicago Public Schools' budget.

That means the mayor's effectively doubling the annual $4 million cost of the pre-K expansion by adding up to $4 million-plus a year in interest for the bankers who are "lending" us the money.

Thus, over the course of the four-year program we could pay up to $17 million to the bankers. All in the name of helping Chicago's most impoverished and disadvantaged children.

I think I speak for children everywhere when I say Please, Mr. Mayor, find a new way to help us!

On the bright side, the mayor's given us a challenging new mathematical word problem for his next standardized achievement test. Which he loves almost as much as he loves wealthy bankers.

Here we go . . .

How many years will it take all the low-wage workers in Chicago to earn $17 million—like the mayor just gave to Goldman Sachs, et al?

As a follow-up question, we might want to calculate how many years it would take any of us to earn $100 million. That's the extra amount in interest another batch of bankers got from that convoluted bond deal cooked up by our fiduciary watchdogs at CPS.

Unfortunately, you won't be able to use your calculators, kiddies, 'cause our schools are too broke to afford them.

As the last unreconstructed New Deal liberal left in Chicago, I appreciate the mayor's efforts to jack up the minimum wage.

Even if it's just a last-ditch effort to make everyone forget all the cuts, closings, and corporate handouts of his first three years in office.

Think of it as his attempt to transform himself from Mitt Romney into Al Sharpton as he hopes to sucker enough voters into reelecting him.

If we see Mayor Rahm jetting off to Missouri to join the protestors in Ferguson, we'll know his election-eve efforts have really kicked in.

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