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The [Thursday] Papers

"City Treasurer Kurt Summers announced the Chicago Community Catalyst Fund in 2016 with much fanfare - the city would earmark $100 million to jump-start investments in struggling neighborhoods, providing the seed money needed for ventures in places where many banks had been reluctant to put their money," the Tribune reports.

Sounds great! I bet by now we're seeing results.

"None of it was spent. In fact, it wasn't until Summers was about to leave office this May that he moved $75 million of the earmarked money into a bank account where it could be administered."

Oh.

"But upon taking office, Mayor Lori Lightfoot deemed that move improper and pulled the funds back, while not accusing Summers of doing anything illegal."

Improper, but not illegal. Check.

(I wonder if the feds agree.)

"Now, Lightfoot herself is looking to reboot the program and finally deliver on its promise."

Good. But WTF happened?

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"After Summers and then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel publicized the idea in fall 2016, the City Council approved an ordinance that November to allow the treasurer to immediately transfer up to $35 million into the fund, and follow with another $35 million in 2017. Up to $30 million could go into it in 2018.

"When Lightfoot took office, she learned that Summers had moved the $75 million out of the city's coffers and into the Northern Trust bank."

I bet Northern Trust was glad to have it!

"The new mayor ordered the money returned to the city's coffers."

Oh.

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"Communications from the days after Lightfoot's term began show administration officials and city attorneys discussing why Summers shouldn't have moved the $75 million.

In a May 29 letter the Tribune obtained through an open records request, Deputy Corporation Counsel James McDonald told new Chief Financial Officer Jennie Huang Bennett the $75 million appears not to meet the definition of "eligible funds" as laid out in the city code governing the Catalyst Fund because the city comptroller did not join Summers in determining its eligibility. "It would be advisable to reverse this transfer as soon as possible," McDonald wrote.

"Summers says he acted correctly in moving the money, and that he's happy Lightfoot wants to make the fund work as he intended."

Okay, I hope Summers isn't left off the hook that easily. Nor Rahm.

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"But the program has had detractors on the City Council."

Why? It sounds like a good idea, just one that was badly (or not at all) executed.

"To begin with, a handful of aldermen argued there wasn't enough oversight built into the ordinance to ensure the money was going to worthwhile programs in under-invested communities. And, if investments started flowing from the fund, there were some who worried about whether the money would make it to the struggling West and South side neighborhoods that needed it, said Ald. Scott Waguespack, 32nd, who voted against it."

Oh.

"I never thought it would succeed," Waguespack said. "We thought it was going to be a bust, and I guess it was."

I'm never going to put my full faith in a Chicago alderman, but aren't you glad Waguespack is now the council's finance chair? That alone is almost worth the election of Lori Lightfoot.

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"Rather than go forward with the once-ballyhooed Catalyst Fund program, Waguespack said Lightfoot should consider ending it. Instead, Waguespack said, the city should keep the funds within its financial structure, where it would be subject to the usual checks and balances.

"There was no oversight. It took accountability for how the money was spent out of the hands of anyone but the mayor or the treasurer," he said of the fund. "It was shaping up basically to be a slush fund for the mayor to play with. There was nothing stopping that money from being invested in projects in the (North Side) 43rd or 47th wards, which really don't need that kind of boost."

Like a junior TIF fund.

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"The City Council voted on it and it was approved in 2017 to set aside the money. We did that, and the move to Northern Trust was simply the next step, the creation of the account to hold that money," Summers told the Tribune. "Just as the city has accounts at many financial institutions for various purposes."

Right. Might as well earn even a little interest on the money. Plus, isn't all city money in a bank account? I mean, just where are the "city's coffers?" So now I'm confused about what was improper about it. Lack of oversight?

"As for the timing, four days before he left office and Conyears-Ervin took over as treasurer, Summers said that's just how long it took for the fund's board to come together and be ready to make the move. 'I think it was a first-of-its-kind investing vehicle, and these things take time,' he said. The program 'was never a priority for Mayor Emanuel,' which also slowed things down, Summers added."

So maybe the real problem here isn't where the money was parked but the fact that it was never spent.

Also, just because Rahm Emanuel is out of office doesn't mean he shouldn't be called to answer for his actions when he was in office. He may refuse to comment, or spew mad spin, but make the call - especially as he gallavants around the nation's elite news publications and television programs bragging about his (failed) mayoralty.

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"It was proper to move the money to Northern Trust as was planned, rather than to leave it sitting in a segregated account within the city coffers for Conyears-Ervin to find when she took over, [Summers] said."

Perhaps a municipal finance expert could help suss this out. What exactly did Lightfoot find improper about the money being stored at Northern Trust?

My first thought, which isn't addressed in the article, was that Summers had a relationship with the bank. That's usually how these things go. The bank, in turn, contributes to his campaign or offers him a job after he leaves office. (Summers' predecessor, Stephanie Neely, was a vice president at Northern Trust before becoming city treasurer; now she's at JP Morgan.) I don't have any evidence that any such relationship exists, but I also don't see any evidence that any such connections were sought by the Tribune. At least dispatch with the natural suspicions that rightfully arise in a town where coincidences do not exist.

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Profanity Inanity
"When Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza (10th) signed on to Mayor Lori Lightfoot's City Council leadership team, she did not agree to forfeit her independence or sever her deep roots at the Chicago Teachers Union," the Sun-Times reports.

"That much was painfully obvious this week when Garza, Lightfoot's hand-picked chairman of the City Council's Committee on Workforce Development, introduced Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders at a CTU rally called to rev up a rank-and-file casting a strike vote.

"The provocative video circulated on social media shows Garza stepping to the podium and promptly using profanity.

"That's right, mother-f---er!" Garza said, raising her fist in the air, after being introduced by Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th).

For the children reading the article who can't figure it out, the missing letters are "uck."

Also, breaking news: Reporters, editors and normal humans all use "profanity" every motherfucking day. Get the fuck over it already.

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"What would Lightfoot think if she saw the Garza video?

"I think she would understand. She knows why I'm at CTU introducing Bernie Sanders in front of the teachers. I'm not being disloyal to the mayor," Garza said.

"As a human being, we have multi-facets. I can be loyal to the teachers that work hard every day. It doesn't mean I'm disloyal to the mayor . . . I came out of CTU. I can be loyal to my husband. I can be loyal to my kids. I can be loyal to my employees and the people I work with. Your loyalty doesn't have to lie in one spot."

Framing this article around loyalty (and fucking profanity) is the sort of thing only a reporter (with enabling editors) who bought into the old Chicago Daley/Emanuel framework of government would do. Every public official should be loyal to the public, not the mayor or any other officeholder. I hope we see fewer tools and more real legislators in the Lightfoot era. It doesn't signal mayoral weakness; rather, the past signalled aldermanic weakness that for decades, if not forever, badly hurt the people of this city.

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The real questions I would ask Garza would center around which issues she thinks the city is getting wrong in its negotiations with CTU.

"If there's no compromise, then they have no choice but to strike," she told the Sun-Times.

Fair enough. The next question, though, shouldn't have been about loyalty to the mayor, but about where she thinks the mayor and her bargaining team aren't compromising enough.

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New on the Beachwood today . . .

Swiss Back In Chicago!
In 1864, Switzerland became the first country to open a consulate in Chicago. In 2014, the Swiss closed the consulate as a cost-cutting measure. Now, the Swiss are back!

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ChicagoReddit

How do Chicagoans feel about getting photographed? from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

What Does Roberto Clemente Mean To The City Of Chicago?

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BeachBook

Labradoodle Creator Says The Breed Is His Life's Regret.

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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

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Red alert.

There is a throughline from Russia/Mueller to Ukraine (if not multiple throughlines, including seeking assistance from foreign governments to manipulate American presidential elections).

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From Tim Willette: One swing voter, who has attended 23 Trump rallies and is compiling a book of Trump tweets, says impeachment is a bad idea.

This is hilarious.

One swing voter, a self-described communist who has never voted for a major party candidate in any election, says the capitalist system should be overthrown.

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My god.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Bloweth the whistle.



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Posted on September 26, 2019


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