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Rahm's Words, Actions On Transparency Continue To Differ

By aaroncynic in News on Mar 7, 2012 10:00PM

Mayor Rahm Emanuel with former President Bill Clinton at last week's launch of the Chicago Infrastructure Trust. (Photo via Chicago Mayor's Office Facebook page

Mayor Rahm Emanuel took another clandestine jaunt out of town on Monday, this time to New York, purportedly to raise funds for the Obama campaign. Fox Business reports Emanuel was spotted at the swank New York restaurant known as Sistina. According to unnamed “people at the restaurant” Fox cited, Emanuel was wining and dining with a group of bankers and hedge fund manager Michael Sacks. This is the second undisclosed trip Emanuel has taken on supposed city business. He took his first undisclosed trip out of town in February, which he later admitted was tied to the G-8 and NATO summits.

The Sun-Times reports spokesman Tarrah Cooper said, “Yesterday the Mayor was in New York for a series of meetings with business that are interested in growing and expanding in Chicago,” and he “was not there on behalf of or affiliated with the President.

Meanwhile, other transparency concerns are growing surrounding the Mayor’s $1.7 billion proposed “Chicago Infrastructure Trust,” which his office announced the creation of last weekBilled as an “innovative way to leverage private investment for transformative infrastructure projects to guide the city’s renewal of these vital and foundational elements in the 21st century,” the projects contained within the Trust will be coordinated with the City and other agencies, but financed five private financing organizations.

The Sun-Times reports the trust would be set up as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, which means more potential for opacity. Both The Freedom of Information Act and Open Meetings Act do not apply to non-for-profit organizations, and laws which require construction projects to be awarded to the lowest bidder do not apply. In addition, Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets Inc, who shelled out $1.83 billion to lease the Chicago Skyway, is among the five initial pledged financers. Seeing as Chicagoans have already felt the sting of privatizating city services, we’re well within our right to be concerned with the potential for more privatization.

Emanuel attempted to assuage those fears on Monday, saying:

Nothing we’re doing changes running a transparent process. Second, the type of investments we’re gonna make are key for the city’s economic future and its competitiveness. Third, I’m gonna make sure this is just a [financing] vehicle.

Seeing as how the idea of “transparency” seems to sometimes means picking only some of the fruit from a buffet, we’re more than a little suspicious.