Huffpost Chicago
THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Mike Klonsky Headshot

If You're Looking for Change, Rahm Is Not Your Guy

Posted: Updated:

If you liked the scandal-ridden Daley machine, you will love Rahm Emanuel as mayor. And why not? Daley and Rahm both move in the same inner circle politically and financially. Rahm's campaign offers voters little more than a continuation of Daley's policies and management style, including management and control over the city's public schools.

Bill Clinton's Chicago fund-raising visit to pump the Emanuel campaign ("there's no better role model") highlighted both Daley's and Rahm's connections to the same family of political and financial interests. Candidate Miguel del Valle was quickest to point out the fallout from Rahm's brief term on the board of directors of Freddie Mac. it was Clinton who appointed Emanuel to the board in 2000. Rahm earned $320,000 for his 14 months of service, but was pulverized in the media for being a "asleep at the switch" during the agency's disastrous accounting scandal.

As Greg Hinz reports at Crain's Chicago Business,

Both men also share an inner circle that dates back decades and that includes political consultant David Axelrod, mayoral brother Bill Daley (who just succeeded Mr. Emanuel as White House chief of staff) and David Wilhelm, who led both Mr. Daley's and Mr. Clinton's first political races.

While serving as Bill Clinton's chief fundraiser, Rahm "handed out favors such as time with the candidate only to those who produced big numbers, however big their reputations." But, says Hinz, "he stumbled at the Clinton White House, where he was demoted after offending too many colleagues."

Both run with the same crowd of hedge-funders, Civic Committee patrons and profiteers who continue the sell-off to the highest bidder of every city asset that's not nailed down. At investment bank Wasserstein Perella & Co., Mr. Emanuel made millions in just two years between the Clinton White House and Congress.

Hinz continues:

"Even though Rahm didn't have a business background, he was one of the best investment bankers we ever worked with," says GTCR LLC principal Bruce Rauner, one of the many Chicago business leaders backing Mr. Emanuel for mayor. Both Mr. Emanuel and his former clients deny that he traded on his government contacts. But the deals he was involved with tended to include firms that are regulated by the government, like Commonwealth Edison Co. in its acquisition of Philadelphia-based Peco Energy. Still, Mr. Emanuel's shortcomings could hobble him in the race, or as mayor if he wins."

Rahm also vows to continue and expand (with private funding) Daley's discredited school reform policies. Those policies include "merit" pay for teachers (based upon test scores), privatization of public school management, arbitrary school closings (likely to yield more instability for kids and families), and more pitched battles with the Chicago Teachers Union. Rahm also promises to continue Daley's leadership approach, including a high-priced, hand-picked, non-educator, business-type CEO to run the schools as an extension of City Hall.

So if you're looking for change, for a new day in Chicago politics, don't look here.