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The [Friday] Papers

"Three years after creating a city infrastructure bank with a huge splash, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has decided to remake management of the finance unit, which by many accounts never has lived up to its potential," Greg Hinz reports for Crain's.

I'd say by every account - let's face it, it's been an abject failure. Why not just say so? Some of us haven't forgotten how Rahm rammed this down everybody's throats without proper consideration because it was so urgent to get it up and running immediately.

But then, consider the source as we take a trip through the Beachwood Wayback Machine.

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From March 9, 2012:

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel plans to ask aldermen next week to consider giving him broad authority to try a new way to pay for big-ticket projects, even though details on how it would work remain fuzzy," the Tribune reports.

"Top administration officials dispatched Thursday to explain the Chicago Infrastructure Trust insisted they don't know what public works improvements would be included and can't guarantee that public disclosure laws would apply."

So just like the current system.

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"I'm not smart enough to know all the ways it could potentially be used," said the city's chief financial officer, Lois Scott.

At least we have the right person in charge.

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"Emanuel wants to establish a nonprofit to oversee the trust, governed by five mayoral appointees approved by the council."

So city government is going to create a nonprofit to oversee the privatization of building public infrastructure.

I need a drink.

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Strangely, Greg Hinz had a different view in his write-up for Crain's:

"Having apparently learned from Richard M. Daley's mistakes, the Emanuel administration is pledging both total transparency and limited city financial risk in its much ballyhooed new infrastructure bank."

Huh?

"In a background briefing late Thursday, city officials said the new Chicago Infrastructure Trust will operate under strict rules designed to protect taxpayers, attracting the kind of private financing the city needs without burdening its own balance sheet."

ALTERNATE: "Officials from the mayor's office trying to generate positive publicity for their boss's "infrastructure bank" pledged total transparency and accountability in a background briefing in which they wouldn't allow their names to be used and couldn't provide even the most basic details about how the bank would work. By holding the 'background briefing' late Thursday for journalists from several competing news organizations, officials used a timeworn strategy for stoking reporters into writing stories lacking sources other than the briefers due to lack of time to flesh out critical voices and views while feeding the impulse to not be 'scooped.' In at least one case, it worked."

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Back to today:

"And the trust appears to have received an enlarged mission."

Great. Double down on failure.

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"City Chief Financial Officer Carole Brown declined to detail what's in mind but in an interview said a couple of eye-catching projects could be unveiled within coming weeks.

"Brown denied that the agency is being 'shaken up,' saying it's more a case of moving to a new phase."

A new phase called the Not An Abject Failure Phase?

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"The old leadership team 'got the trust up and running. They've had incredible success,' [Brown] said.

Incredible success if you define incredible success as success that's not credible, that is. Quick, Carole, name the Trust's top three successes (and moving the Penske papers into an accordion file doesn't count)?

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"[Outgoing executive director Steven] Beitler, in a quick interview, said it was 'time to leave and go back to the private sector. I promised I'd stay for two years, and it turned out to be two years and eight months.' Beitler declined to comment further."

You mean he didn't want to talk about the Trust's incredible success under his leadership?

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"[S]ome sources familiar with the trust say that while he could have acted faster on occasion, so could City Hall and its notoriously complex bureaucracy."

On its face, this sounds like good insider dish. But when you re-read it you're left with a nothingball.

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"[T]he trust has approved just two deals worth roughly $50 million, one in which private groups will help retrofit city buildings to make them more energy-efficient and, in turn, share in the energy savings. The trust also is assisting the CTA in upgrading cellphone capacity in the subway."

Neither of which needed the Trust to happen.

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"The Chicago Infrastructure Trust has the ability to move forward projects that are beneficial to the city for Chicago's communities and neighborhoods, and this new board will enable us to bring more of these innovative projects over the finish line," Emanuel said in a statement. "I appreciate the work that the outgoing board and executive director have undertaken."

Why even publish this? If Emanuel won't take questions about the Trust, fuck him. Don't give him a commercial that is clearly false. Be a fucking journalist.

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See also: Greg Hinz, For One, Would Like To Welcome Our New Overlord.

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Hinz also endorsed Rahm's re-election.

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Hinz also, inexplicably, thinks TIFs are awesome and Ben Joravsky doesn't know what he's talking about.

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See also Hinz's role in Blago Ruling Indicts Media.

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See also the item Rahm's Trust Is A Bust.

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Maybe former inspector general David Hoffman, ostensibly put on the Trust board to mollify critics, has something to say (hint, hint).

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Did you know that Carole Brown and Lois Scott were both once on the board of directors of the Better Government Association?

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Pilgrim's (Non-)Progress
"When a fire in 2006 nearly demolished Pilgrim Baptist Church, an architectural treasure by Louis Sullivan that is known as the birthplace of modern gospel music, many Chicagoans insisted that the building had to be restored," the Tribune reports.

"Two years after the fire, architects hired by the Bronzeville church's board of trustees revealed dazzling plans for a $37 million rebuilding project that would include a social services building and a cultural center. At the time, some architectural preservationists questioned how an aging congregation whose membership had declined from its height of 1,000 members to a couple of hundred would be able to undertake such a project.

"Now those skeptical voices ring prophetic. Nearly a decade after the blaze, steel bracing that stabilizes the church's limestone walls offers the only clear evidence that anyone intends to save one of Chicago's most historic places. Hopes of a restoration have fallen so far that some architectural preservationists think the only remaining option might be to preserve the surviving walls and turn the site into a park."

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What the hell happened? You'll have to click through to find out.

But let me pull out one of a series of screw-ups that seems to have doomed Pilgrim.

"[F]ormer Gov. Rod Blagojevich promised $1 million in state money, which later became mired in controversy when it was directed to and used by a school that held classes on the church's grounds.

"In 2010, the church filed a lawsuit against the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, seeking compensation for the mix-up. The suit, which the church later withdrew, claimed the church had spent $65,015 on demolition and building expenses. Pilgrim Baptist never received any of the promised $1 million from the state, a representative of the commerce department said recently."

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From the Beachwood vault, April 2008:

A House panel grilled a high-ranking Blagojevich aide, Deputy Gov. Louanner Peters, about how the politically connected Loop Lab School mysteriously wound up with $1 million in state funds the governor had intended for fire-ravaged Pilgrim Baptist Church on the South Side," the Sun-Times reports.

"But at least 59 times in the roughly 90-minute hearing, Peters professed ignorance toward what Blagojevich has called a 'bureaucratic mistake.'

"'I would not have any idea who in the governor's office would have the most answers,' Peters told members of the House State Government Administration Committee.

"Even though Blagojevich last month indicated two former aides oversaw the apparently errant deal giving Loop Lab School money, Peters said she was unaware of whom the governor was talking about."

Maybe it's time to haul the governor before the committee.

From the Beachwood vault, July 2008:

"The confusing controversy over Gov. Rod Blagojevich's decision to give $1 million in state assistance following the Pilgrim Baptist Church fire has a new twist - the founder of the private Chicago school that got the money is contradicting the governor's statement about what happened," the Tribune reports.

Will the last person in the state who hasn't been lied to by the governor turn the lights out?

Now, to be sure, Blagojevich isn't the only villain in the story. Just sayin'.

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"At this point, city historians and architects hope to at least salvage the walls and incorporate them into a memorial park on the site, with hopes that either the church or another organization eventually can raise enough money to rebuild."

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The Political Odds
Updated to reflect recent developments.

Beachwood Photo Booth: Lincoln Tap
Pole dancing.

The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Future, Freddie Gibbs, Murder By Death, Kitten Forever, The Bank Notes, Dumpster Babies, Mr. Twin Sister, AWOLNATION, and REO Speedwagon.

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BeachBook
* 1977 National Safety Council PSA ('Gas Leaks') Featuring John Cusack.

* YouTube's 5 Biggest Stars Are Millionaires.

* Make PR People Confirm Quotes.

* NPR: White Men Talking.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: A matter of trust.



Permalink

Posted on July 24, 2015


MUSIC - Blues Fest 2017.
TV - The Queen's Speech.
POLITICS - Psychopath CEOs Destroy Value.
SPORTS - Why Todd Frazier Should Lead Off.

BOOKS - The Fresh Air Fund's Complicated Racial Record.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - The Great Lakes Have Tsunamis.


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