|Rahm Emanuel flew in Randi Weingarten to support the Infrastructure Trust.|
The BGA's Alejandra Cancino writes in Crain's, that Rahm Emanuel's grand PR stunt, known as the Infrastructure Trust, has done nothing to rebuild Chicago's infrastructure nor to build any trust. In short, it was a sham and a humbug, a facade under which to carry out even more failed privatization deals.
...the infrastructure trust that Mayor Rahm Emanuel once hailed as a model of out-of-the-box thinking to jumpstart public works has proved anything but.
Launched five years ago this month, the Chicago Infrastructure Trust has accomplished little and done so at a snail's pace. None of the $800 million in financing that Emanuel claimed he had lined up from institutional investors to bankroll city projects ever materialized, with resources so tight that the trust on several occasions has been late by more than a month in paying staff and once by several months.
What's more, city records reviewed by the Better Government Association show trust operations and projects have been largely dependent on public financing even though Emanuel sold the idea as an innovative financing scheme to free taxpayers from cost and risk.
As of October, the trust still owed money to some former employees, consultants and contractors, according to its most recent audit report.Sounds like one of Trump's deals. Doesn't it? And there were more. Like the the failed privatization of Midway Airport.
I warned about the Trust back in 2012 when Rahm first touted it as a model for other cities to follow and claimed that it would bring thousands of jobs to Chicago. And I wasn't alone.
Ald. Scott Waguespack, 32nd, (yes, there are a few honest ones on the council) opposed the trust's creation pushed for more transparency and City Council oversight.
Ben Joravsky, writing in the Reader, called Rahm the "trust fund mayor" and warned of the lack of transparency around IT.
But warnings fell on deaf ears. Why? Because there were the big banks, like Citibank and big Democratic Party backers singing the Trust's praises. Namely, Bill Clinton who stood shoulder to shoulder with Rahm when IT was rolled out. .
And then there was AFT Pres. Randi Weingarten who Rahm flew to Chicago so she could offer her union's support of the Infrastructure Trust at Bill Clinton's Global Initiative Conference.
“People want to work,” Weingarten said. “And what we’re seeing, whether it’s the mayor’s infrastructure program here in Chicago or everything else we’re doing around the country, is that when labor and business start working good together on trying to put people back to work with good jobs, when we start building things again, it builds huge hope around the country.”To her credit, Randi had been in town a few weeks earlier to support and march with thousands of rallying union teachers. If you followed my blog at the time, you know that I gave her props for that. But now, here she was rallying support for Rahm's great privatization scheme, cheering it on with the very forces that were attacking the CTU in a massive media campaign.
She wasn't alone among union leaders either. The Mayor had put Jorge Ramirez, president of the Chicago Federation of Labor, on the board of the Trust. The promise of jobs, no matter how illusory, is pretty enticing. Just ask the sell-out union leaders who have drunk Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again" kool-aid.