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The [Friday] Papers

"When Amer Ahmad abruptly resigned as city comptroller about three weeks ago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel heaped praise on his hand-picked aide for helping him 'reform government' in Chicago," the Tribune reports.

"On Thursday, Ahmad was indicted in Ohio on federal corruption charges in what prosecutors described as a more than $500,000 kickback scheme involving state investment business while he served as deputy treasurer and chief financial officer there."

Well, in Chicago that kind of piddly-ass scheme would represent "reform."

Come back when you've learned to play in the big leagues, Amer!


A haul of only half a mil would be like the Jesse Jackson Jr. case without the elks' heads, Eddie Van Halen guitar and Michael Jackson hat. Borrring!


Ahmad bought Gary Cherone and Tito Jackson memorabilia.


Okay, I'm done. There's really nothing witty to say about this constant stream of corruption anymore, and I hate making fun of it because one reason it persists is that Chicagoans are more entertained than outraged by their peculiar local culture - even if the alleged crimes in this case happened in Ohio; that didn't prevent him from landing a key job in Chicago despite previous reports there about Ahmad's controversial relationship with a lobbyist (who was also indicted Thursday) described by prosecutors as a "close personal friend and business associate."

"When Emanuel brought Ahmad to City Hall in late April 2011, newspapers in Ohio already had raised questions about the links between Ahmad and [Mohammed Noure] Alo after a Boston-based bank won business from the Ohio treasurer's office after hiring Alo as its lobbyist," the Trib reports.

For example, from a June 12, 2010 Cleveland Plain Dealer editorial:

Democratic State Treasurer Kevin Boyce says his selection of Boston-based State Street Corp. to manage $32 billion for the Public Employees and State Teachers Retirement systems and the Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund will save Ohioans $7.3 million.

That remains to be seen. The bank was the low bidder in Ohio, but is being sued for its handling of California public pensions.

What seems clearer - and more contemptible - is how practiced Boyce appears to be in the old Statehouse game of patronage.

About the time State Street submitted its bid, it hired as its exclusive lobbyist a pal and former business associate of Boyce's deputy, Amer Ahmad, according to The Dayton Daily News and Plain Dealer Statehouse bureau reporter Joe Guillen. Noure Alo, a Columbus immigration lawyer, has no other lobbying clients, the Dayton paper reported.

About a month later, State Street got the job. Boyce's office earlier had hired Alo's wife as an office assistant.

Back to the Trib:

"Asked about the Emanuel administration's vetting process for hiring Ahmad, [Emanuel flak Sarah] Hamilton said in an e-mail that the 'city routinely conducts criminal background checks, city residency verification and city indebtedness checks. A confidential federal investigation of this nature would not have been revealed in any such review.'"

Hamilton's e-mail account did not respond when asked if it had anything interesting to say; Hamilton herself wouldn't submit herself to questions, probably because she doesn't know anything. Rahm himself is "out of town on a camping trip," which he often plans around embarrassing federal indictments.

Meanwhile, Google said it was never searched by the Emanuel administration during the vetting process. (Efforts to confirm this with the NSA were unsuccessful.)

Is any of this working for you? The point is that the mayor and his aides refused to answer questions about the vetting process for Ahmad. Either they were aware of the allegations in Ohio and ignored them or they were haplessly unaware. Or maybe it was something else . . .

"According to Ahmad's LinkedIn profile [link mine], he worked at the same New York-based firm, Wasserstein Perella & Co., that Emanuel made his fortune with as an investment banker. Ahmad's profile says he worked there as an analyst and associate from 1996 through 1999. Emanuel served as managing director of the firm's Chicago office from 1999 through 2001."



"City Hall sources said Thursday the federal investigation and impending indictment had nothing to do with Ahmad's abrupt departure from City Hall," Fran Spielman reports for the Sun-Times.

City Hall sources who were so embarrassed to actually be saying this that they demanded anonymity?



Rake Strong
"Besieged by scandal and an exodus of its members, the Metra board is expected to gather today for the first time since dumping CEO Alex Clifford, but it will have barely enough members for a meeting after Thursday's departure of board member Stanley Rakestraw, the fifth member to quit in four weeks," the Tribune reports.

"Rakestraw was asked to resign as the Tribune was about to report that he lives in Chicago, instead of in suburban Cook County, as required by state law."

(See the item More Metra Board Games from Thursday's column.)


"In his five-paragraph letter of resignation, released by Preckwinkle's office, Rakestraw said that despite the fire, it was his intention to rebuild and return to Flossmoor. But declining property values made rebuilding 'economically unrealistic.'

"Rakestraw said that he had informed the Metra board's counsel of his residency 'and was repeatedly assured that, given my personal situation, my residency was not an issue.'"

The Beachwood issued this response.

Look, Stan, I'm sorry about the fire but you didn't have to move into downtown Chicago for chrissakes.


Rules - For The Little People.



"In a press release announcing the comptroller's resignation, Emanuel praised Ahmad for managing his highly-touted wellness program and for dunning deadbeats to generate an additional $70 million in sorely-needed revenue in 2012 alone.

"The city doubled Ahmad's own expectations, in part by siphoning the state income tax refunds of parking ticket scofflaws."


"[H]e's best known as the official in charge of collecting late water bills, license fees, traffic charges and other payments from scofflaws, something the city says he did to the tune of $70 million in 2012 alone."

Good job, everybody!

President Pinocchio
The Washington Post just blew the lid off the Obama presidency.

The Week In Chicago Rock
Including: Majical Cloudz, The Aristocrats, Cattle Decapitation, The Black Crowes, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Robby Krieger's Jam Kitchen, and Cherie Currie.

Beachwood Photo Booth: Van In Flames

Howard Sudberry's Arlington Millions Madness


The Beachwood Tip Line: Superfected.


Posted on August 16, 2013

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BOOKS - The Lessons Of Typhoid Mary.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - A 360° Great Train Story.

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