Emanuel keeps up spin as Chicago goes down drain, group suggests
Mayor Rahm Emanuel has a simple way of getting rid of Chicago's poor financial management, the Better Government Agency (BGA) says: Don't mention them.
"It’s not easy finding silver linings in the dark clouds that define Chicago city finances, but Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his spin machine are doing their best," the BGA posted on its website.
The watchdog group says Emanuel has created a new way of spinning the city's dire financial straits by writing a test for himself and then "passing" it.
"Emanuel first made the claim about ending the bad practices he inherited during his presentation of the city’s 2018 Annual Financial Analysis on July 31," the BGA posted on its website. "That also was when he noted that the expected $114 million gap was the smallest the city had faced since 2007."
But in doing so, Emanuel omitted the $70 million the city will have to pay in 2018 to hire hundreds of police officers.
The BGA quoted a Crain's Chicago Business columnist regarding the matter. “I should know by now: In dealing with Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration, you never take anything at face value because you're always being spun,” Greg Hinz wrote.
The BGA contended that Emanuel has basically skipped over important facts when promoting himself and the changes he has said he has brought to Chicago.
Another example it used was Emanuel arguing that he is trying to address problems that he inherited from the previous administration.
"Fresh off unveiling a preliminary fiscal year 2018 budget that forecasts a deficit of $114 million – the city’s smallest in 11 years – Emanuel focused on the sun behind the clouds that have led him to pile on city debt at very high interest rates and cope with a major rating agency downgrading the city’s credit rating to junk bond status," the BGA wrote.
But the mayor failed to mention that the downgrade in credit came after his election. In fact, Emanuel pleaded with Moody's to re-examine the city's bond rating earlier this year, after the city became the first in the United States to reach junk bond territory since Detroit in 2015.
"It’s also worth noting that it wasn’t until after Emanuel won election to his second term that a major credit rating agency downgraded the city’s credit to near junk bond status, timing that suggests if nothing else he was slow to act," the BGA posted.
The group also pointed to the ever-worsening financial problems at Chicago Public Schools, which has claimed a $269 million shortfall in its budget for next year. It is asking the city for help.
"Cash-strapped Chicago Public Schools this year relied on it (the city) to generate $500 million in operating cash," the BGA wrote. "As the Chicago Tribune noted, city taxpayers ultimately will pay $835 million in interest over the 30-year financing period. That’s a $1.35 billion investment for $500 million in operating capital that will be spent within two years."