The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Ald. Bob Fioretti Set To Endorse Rahm Emanuel

By Lisa White in News on Mar 29, 2015 6:00PM

One of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's most vocal critics—and recently failed mayoral candidate himself—Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) is set to endorse Emanuel this afternoon in a surprising change of heart. Fioretti released a written statement early Sunday morning stating that his decision was based on how the candidates plan to deal with the city's financial issues.

The Sun-Times reports that Fioretti deemed it "the No. 1 issue that we face in this election" and quoted Fioretti as saying "“The mayor and I disagree on many issues. . . . My endorsement is about which of these two candidates is ready and able to take on the tough financial challenges this city faces. For me, that candidate is Rahm.” Fioretti also said in his statement, "We need a mayor that can dive in, rather than a mayor that wants to create a commission to look at the problem that his supporters say does not exist."

It comes as a surprising move to many, since Fioretti told the Sun-Times on the eve of the Feb. 24 election that he would support "anybody but Rahm" and further stated that “If there is a runoff, I will support whoever the challenger is...We need a change. Chicago is headed in the wrong direction under this mayor." Fioretti is now also supporting the candidate who less than six months ago he suggested should be the center of a full investigation regarding $600,000 in campaign contributions from both organizations and individuals that manage Chicago pension funds, a case the alderman brought to the Securities and Exchange Commission and to the city's inspector general and the Board of Ethics.

More telling is that Fioretti's financial ideas voiced in his own mayoral bid seem more in line with Chuy Garcia's than Emanuel's. Fioretti often criticized Rahm on lack of transparency and called for a "top to bottom audit of city government" in order to find out what could be cut from the City's budget. Garcia's proposed (albeit tepid) financial plan has likewise heavily leaned on creating commissions to analyze fiscal issues before making any decisions.

Furthermore, Emanuel opposes an elected school board and the removal of the city's much maligned red light camera program, two issues that both Fioretti and Garcia have campaigned on. Fioretti even called for an end to auction-rate securities paired with interest rate swaps, also called "toxic swaps," which have cost CPS hundreds of millions of dollars. The alderman was fond of calling TIFs a "slush fund" for the mayor, often using the DePaul stadium dealas a frequent card to play against Emanuel. Given Fioretti's former priorities and relationship with Emanuel, this partnership just doesn't add up.

Some are questioning if this might have something to do with the lukewarm and ultimate lack of support Fioretti received from various unions and other progressive groups during the race. The CTU was quick to endorse Garcia over Fioretti, despite his vocal opposition to the school closings and support of the teacher's strike. SEIU-HCII and the American Federation of Teachers were also quick to pour hundreds of thousands of dollars into Garcia's campaign fund.

Meanwhile others are asking if the decision might be related to financial woes Fiorietti struggled with during past campaigns. Earlier this month a former advisor claimed that his last campaign paychecks from Fioretti were returned due to insufficient funds. And two staffers stepped forward last year to disclose that they were not paid in full until Fioretti was halfway through his first term as alderman, only receiving wages that were owed after appealing to a state agency, as reported by the Sun-Times political portal, Early & Often. Dan Mihalopoulos of the Sun-Times brings up a valid question in relation to this point:

If Emanuel is victorious on April 7 and remains mayor, the future of Fioretti's career might shed some light on his decision. It "IS the Chicago Way" after all. But it doesn't take much thought to realize that you usually don't release a bold, untimely statement on a Saturday at midnight if you aren't trying to sweep some amount of shame under the rug. If anything, we can at least learn a lesson that in order to save face it is best to never say never.