Mayoral candidate Jesus “Chuy” Garcia teamed up with political reformers Tuesday to push back against “a series of ethical failures under Emanuel’s administration” as Garcia unveiled his plans for government accountability and transparency, if elected.
At a rally outside of the offices of Citadel CEO Ken Griffin, who has donated nearly $1 million to the Emanuel campaign, Garcia laid out his plans to end “pay-to-play politics” in Chicago. A release detailing Garcia’s plan for government accountability called Griffin and Emanuel out over a hotel deal that was granted millions in tax increment finance (TIF) funds: “The billionaire hedge fund CEO — one of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s biggest political donors — spent months quietly buying a stake in Marriott, which subsequently received $55 million in TIF funds from the Emanuel administration to build a hotel in the booming South Loop near McCormick Place.”
“Pay-to-play politics have cost the people of Chicago hundreds of millions of their hard-earned tax dollars even as residents struggle to find jobs, while our schools don’t have enough funding for critical resources, and while working people are being pushed out of the city,” Garcia said. “It’s irresponsible, it’s wrong — and when I’m Mayor, it’s going to stop.”
In addition to calling out Griffin, the ralliers held up a giant poster listing Emanuel donors “who have benefited from the Emanuel Administration’s pay-to-play policies.”
“Good government means inclusion, transparency, and accountability to the people,” Cook County Clerk David Orr added. “Instead, what we’ve seen from this Mayor is accountability to those who fund his campaign.”
Here are more specifics on Garcia’s ethics and transparency plan, which includes an audit of the TIF program:
Garcia’s ethics policy would short-circuit ethics failings under Emanuel by granting the Inspector General new powers to subpoena records, initiate investigations throughout City government and compel the production of documents and data. Garcia would also impose Shakman principles on hiring and promotions within City government, and reverse the Emanuel administration’s practice of thwarting FOIA requests from the press and public
Garcia’s ethics policy would also require an independent forensic audit of the City’s TIFs as a mechanism to end support for insider projects that produce no benefits for blighted communities, and increase oversight of the City’s Infrastructure Trust to forestall new deals like the parking meter debacle.
The new ethics policy would also push for staffing before the FY2016 budget cycle for a City Council Office of Financial Analysis, and implement sweeping performance and financial audits of city departments, beginning with the largest first, as well as implement performance management for all departments that report to the mayor. Those performance management assessments, which will be made available to the public, would be modeled after Cook County’s Set Targets Achieve Results (STAR) program, as a way to systematically evaluate city agencies and improve performance.
Garcia’s ethics platform also follows Cook County’s lead in banning political contributions from City employees, and draws from Seattle’s policy to require City agencies to conduct equity impact assessments and related planning to solve inequities in services, rules, regulations, and operations. The initiative calls for eradicating the influence of big donors by pushing for a small donor system to be implemented before the next municipal election, and for a standing practice of convening community town house meetings to seek resident input and ideas on strategies to increase transparency and accountability in City government.
“We can trust Chuy Garcia to reset our course with the right priorities for our city,” said Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd). “Mayor Emanuel has been giving away the store to his big corporate donors. The $55 million in TIF dollars to go to Ken Griffin’s Marriott Hotel is just the tip of the iceberg.”