The [Friday] Papers
"Former White House Chief of Staff William Daley talked a lot about a lack of 'leadership' in Illinois government Thursday as he continued to mull a run for governor in 2014," the Sun-Times reports.
Well, given his resumé and relatives, he'd know it when he sees it.
"He did, however, dismiss any notion that an involuntary-manslaughter charge recently brought against his nephew, Richard J. 'R.J.' Vanecko , would play any role in his decision about whether to run. Vanecko was charged Dec. 3 in the death of David Koschman eight years ago, and a special prosecutor continues to investigate why the Chicago Police Department - then headed by Daley 's brother, the former mayor - refused to bring charges against Vanecko in 2004 and again last year.
"No," said Daley when asked if his nephew's situation could impact his decision to enter the governor's race.
"Speaking for a half-hour before about 300 people at the City Club of Chicago, the former White House chief of staff and U.S. commerce secretary said he was 'seriously' looking at a run for the Democratic nomination for governor - in contrast to two previous flirtations with seeking the office a decade ago and two years ago," the Tribune reports.
"I think when I looked (at running) last time, I was looking at it," Daley told reporters later. "I'm seriously looking at it right now."
Aha. That explains it. Maybe just get back to us when you're doubly seriously looking at it.
"I think just because people comment on things, you shouldn't assume that they're going to run, and just because they comment on things doesn't mean they won't run," Daley said.
So people shouldn't comment on things. Or we shouldn't pay attention to their thing comments. Maybe just get back to us when you are seriously commenting on things.
"Daley blamed the state's fiscal crisis on a lack of political leadership in Springfield."
It's not like the leadership of the financial community could have anything to do with it.
The Uninformed Absentee Alderman
"The best thing for me is I don't read any newspapers and I don't watch any news," said Jackson Thursday night between doling out hugs and kisses to constituents at the South Shore Cultural Center.
A) Breaking News! Sandi Jackson Meets Constituents!
B) Sandi Jackson least informed member of nation's most ignorant legislative body!
C) Sandi Jackson thinks about what's best for herself for a change!
Midway Meter Deal
"While the timing isn't ideal, with investors offering to pay much less for recent airport deals than just a few years ago, Chicago faces a Dec. 31 deadline to let the Federal Aviation Administration know whether it plans to proceed. This is only the first step in a long process that may or may not end in a viable transaction for the city or investors."
File under Lessons Not Learned. And it's not just the infamous parking meter deal whose stink still wafts over the city. For example, remember the highly touted Indiana toll road privatization? From Reuters' MuniLand blog (via a Whet Moser tweet):
[T]he privatization of the Indiana toll road was a disaster. It certainly should be a lesson for public officials who are considering this approach to finance infrastructure.
Rahm's restructuring of a proposed Midway deal does little to avoid familiar pitfalls. From Crain's:
"Instead of one year short of a century, Mr. Emanuel said he wants to lease Midway for no more than 40 years. Airport investors consider that to be at or near the minimum length of a lease that offers the opportunity to invest in revenue-generating improvements that will pay off over time."
Forty years is still a long time. If the city gave Starbucks an exclusive coffee contract in 1972 with its share of the profits locked in, we'd be pretty pissed right now.
"The other major structural change from the previous Midway deal is that Mr. Emanuel wants enough cash upfront to pay off Midway's roughly $1.4 billion in debt. The rest of the city's money would come over the long term in a split of profits with the private operator."
That's the kind of "short-term fix" thinking that made the meter deal so horrendous. Ideally you'd like more money on the back end precisely because of those "revenue-generating improvements that will pay off over time."
A very real question, then, is whether Rahm sees this as a possible piece to the "pension crisis." Consider:
"By state law, at least 90 percent of the proceeds must be spent on infrastructure or to reduce the city's pension debt."
Rahm (sort of says) he's not looking at this as part of a pension fix, but one might reasonably suspect he's got some numbers written down on a piece of paper one of hisa secret drawers that does just that.
There are other potential advantages from his perspective. For example, Rahm wants that big upfront payment in part to eliminate Midway's $1.8 million debt, which the city refinanced last spring. Again, someone would have to run the numbers to see if it would be smarter to clear the debt or simply refinance it on even better terms, but there's another piece in play. The law requires the city to reinvest airport profits on airport infrastructure. What's made at the airport must stay at the airport. Not so with a private operator, though. Then the city is allowed to take its share of the profits and do whatever it wants with them. So under privatization, Rahm gets a little slush fund.
Some aldermen are already balking at a Midway deal because it smacks too much of the meter deal and that gives them the willies.
But just two weeks ago, some of those very same aldermen passed a billboard privatization ordinance while thundering just how unlike the meter deal that was - and how the media should stop comparing every privatization plan to The Deal Which Must Never Be Spoken Of Again.
We will if you will!
But no, the meter deal is the gold standard of the false promise of privatization. It offers an incredibly useful model - a dynamite business school case study. Everything the city does should be compared to it. And then we should just do the opposite.
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Posted on December 21, 2012
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