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Nobody says he's dumb, but everyone says he's an asshole.

the theory that regular people know what they want, and get it rahmed down their cake holes good and hard

Posted by teasel 02/22/2011 at 08:59PM

I think these man on the street interviews, non-conforming haikus really, have given me a better understanding of Rahm’s victory:

For Hayden and his wife Liz, 62, that choice was Rahm Emanuel.
“He will try to do the right thing for as many people as possible,” said Liz.
Her husband added, “He’s just a phone call away from the White House.”
Sarah Strang was a little wistful as she voted for Rahm Emanuel for mayor.
“I am sad to see Daley go. I don’t want to see someone new come in,” said Strang.
She has lived in Chicago for about 20 years. It was her first time voting in a mayoral election.
“It’s a big change in Chicago,” said Margaret O’Hara, who cast her vote for Emanuel in a high-rise near Lake Shore Drive.
“It’s important that the next mayor understand the importance of keeping the Magnificent Mile
nice, with art and flowers.”

There might have been a time when I was skeptical that Wall Street could just waltz in with the chump change from god’s purse and buy our election for their man in the administration with some advertising impressions, but I feel so much dumber now I don’t remember exactly… Maybe I should have voted for Rahm, too? Hey, does anybody else feel the sudden urge to buy a few cases of acesulfame potassium, stand on the corner and chuck the cans at the groins of likely voters?

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making a big deal out of rahmbo's inconsequential tax proposals

Posted by teasel 02/21/2011 at 08:55AM

Two proposals Rahm has made that received some of the widest press during this campaign have been his policies to phase out the city’s $48 a year head tax on employers and shifting a fraction of city and county sales taxes from goods to services. We don’t understand how these trivial adjustments came to dominate so much campaign coverage, considering combined they add up to shuffling around $40 million in a city budget that has a $600 million deficit. But there it is, and here we are, so let’s take a look.

The folks at FactCheck have a pretty good explanation of how Rahm has been misleading voters about his sales tax proposal, and how Chico followed that up by misleading them some more. In a nutshell: Rahm is going to try to reduce sales taxes on goods by 2 cents for every $10 you purchase, and pay for that minor adjustment by creating a bunch of new, bureaucratically cumbersome itemized tax rates for different services, which will force the service sector to lobby the city to get favorable rates for their businesses, increasing the sector’s political costs while giving the Mayor’s office yet another policy weapon to punish some businesses while patronizing others. That sounds clever and ruthless, but it doesn’t sound at all like good tax policy. One year you’ve got separate tax schedules for limousine and pet grooming services, the next you have a sliced bagel tax. Implementing a progressive sales tax, like Rahm says he wants to do by taxing “luxury” goods, doesn’t take rocket science, and doesn’t involve a complicated, politically tangled tax code with line items for certain types of business and exclusions for others, but that’s what he’s proposing.

The head tax, meanwhile, raises some $20 million a year for a city that provides essential services and infrastructure to the businesses that operate here, and the question for business is really whether this city provides what they need and how much they have to pay for it, not how they pay for it. To the extent that the head tax affects hiring patterns at all in Chicago, the flat rate per employee arguably encourages businesses to create fewer low wage, part time positions in favor of better paid full time positions. Some share of the tax is probably shouldered by employees, and one could complain that it’s regressive, but even if the entire tax burden fell on wages if wouldn’t amount to more than a fraction of a percent of the lowest incomes.

The argument from Rahm has been that ”Chicago stands at a competitive disadvantage and will lose new business investment and jobs to other cities” because of the head tax, but this is total nonsense. Chicago’s head tax amounts to a 0.01% tax on median wage salaries, which is a tiny fraction of the employment taxes of other major cities: in New York City there is a 2.5% municipal payroll tax; in Baltimore it’s 3.05%; in Philadelphia employers pay nearly 4% of their payroll to the city. Even in California, where the state bans municipal income taxes, businesses end up paying much higher rates than Chicago’s head tax via business licensing fees that are based on payrolls: in San Francisco employers have to pay a 1.5% payroll tax to get a business license, 150 times larger than Chicago’s head tax. Nationwide 170 cities, including 21 cities with population of at least 100,000 individuals pay municipal income taxes that are absolutely astronomical compared to Chicago’s $4/month head tax.

Chicago has one of the lowest municipal taxes on employment in the nation. If we really are losing business to other cities it’s probably because they’re able to provide the services and infrastructure those businesses need but we can’t afford, because compared to other cities we’re not taxing employment at all. Instead of bragging about our favorable tax environment for hiring, Rahm is going on television and lying to businesses about how we have the highest employment taxes in the country and using his $12 million war chest to scare away investment. Thanks a lot, Rahm.

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speaking of rahm's role in the housing crisis...

Posted by teasel 02/20/2011 at 02:30PM

Why was he the only candidate to get campaign contributions from Magnetar’s CEO between 2006 and 2008? Those were the years that the Magnetar hedge fund was almost solely responsible for keeping the housing bubble inflating.

I was going to start going down the list of Rahmbo’s backers on Wall Street, maybe starting with something trivial like the $1000 he got from inside-trader John Mack during his first congressional race, but this blows that out of the water, and is kind of creepy.

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things have a way of getting done without him around

Posted by teasel 02/19/2011 at 07:43PM

I’m still puzzled by Rahm’s backroom deal to give retired Senator Blanche Meyers Lambert Lincoln (D-AR) $1.5 billion in emergency farm aid while the administration was telling black farmers there was no way to come up with the $1.15 billion for the Pigford v. USDA discrimination class action settlement. Despite bipartisan support, bills authorizing the funds had been stalled one way or another his entire tenure at the White House, but Rahm resigns and two months later a bill is on the President’s desk.

I guess we could say that about everything that happened during the lame duck session, though, and who would we be if we didn’t?

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right to free association? what right to free association?

Posted by teasel 02/19/2011 at 06:40PM

Leaping ahead of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s threat to call out the national guard on teachers who hadn’t so much as threatened a strike over a bill that would strip them of their bargaining rights, Rahmbo tells the Sun-Times that he would strip Chicago’s teachers of their right to strike to begin with.

Given he recently helped broker the contract that will eventually destroy the UAW, Rahm’s record on labor rights is looking positively medieval.

I can’t blame people for not having much sympathy for existing unions, but if this is the way our leaders are going to treat them, how are they going to treat the new unions that most people do want?

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patronage all the way up, corruption all the way down

Posted by teasel 02/19/2011 at 12:28PM

After Rahm Emanuel left his patronage gig ignoring corruption on Freddie Mac’s board, he came back to Chicago to run for congress. As Rahm was instrumental in getting Mayor Daley elected in the first place, the Mayor returned the favor by sending his chain gang of city workers to illegally campaign for Rahmbo in every one of his congressional campaigns.

Rahm says he didn’t know anything about it. I guess he could be lying, in which case he’s a liar and we can share a weak laugh at some sad joke about politicians. But if he’s not lying that makes me even more worried, because it tells us a lot about how successful he’s going to be at tackling corruption as Mayor when he couldn’t see that his own campaign was riddled with it for over half a decade:

Emanuel’s first bid for public office — his 2002 congressional run — and his re-election bids in 2004 and 2006 were boosted by city workers who were part of a political machine loyal to Mayor Richard Daley that was targeted by federal prosecutors for rigging city hiring and promotions to reward allies. Several top Daley administration officials were convicted in the probe, and the last of them — former Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Al Sanchez — was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison on Thursday.

According to court testimony, public records and interviews, members of pro-Daley street armies gathered petition signatures, knocked on doors and got out the vote for Emanuel.

Ever since he was first identified as a beneficiary of illegal patronage, Emanuel has maintained he was not aware of anything improper.

But the Tribune interviewed more than half a dozen current or former city workers who said they did volunteer work on the Emanuel campaign at the direction of their Democratic bosses.

James Sprandel, a retired Streets and Sanitation Department worker, said he circulated petitions for Emanuel at the urging of his now-convicted former boss, Daniel Katalinic, then a deputy commissioner in the department. Emanuel shared a beer with Sprandel and other campaign volunteers to thank them during his first campaign, the retired worker said.

“He knew we were working for him,” said Sprandel, who said he supports Emanuel for mayor. “I told him I was part of the Katalinic crew. He thanked me for the help. He knew we were helping him. Of course he knew.”

Emanuel declined to be interviewed for this story.

More than three dozen Emanuel campaign volunteers during his 2006 re-election bid also showed up on a secret “clout list” that surfaced in the 2006 trial of Robert Sorich, Daley’s patronage chief.

According to court testimony, Katalinic and Sorich met at Emanuel’s campaign headquarters in 2002.

Katalinic also testified that he took election-season orders from Greg Goldner, who managed Daley’s 2003 re-election bid as well as Emanuel’s first bid for Congress. Goldner — who was never charged in the hiring scandal — said he never had any knowledge of illegal patronage.

Street-level city workers said they understood what was happening.

“Daley made him a personal project,” Sprandel said of Emanuel. “Up until that time, I had never heard of Rahm Emanuel, but the Daley forces at City Hall said, ‘We are going to support him,’ so we did.

“That is just the way it was,” he said. “To get overtime or coveted assignments, you had to volunteer your time for politics.”

Jesus Navarro, a laborer in the city Water Department whose name appeared on the clout list, talks of the difference between then and now.

Back then, Navarro collected signatures for Emanuel at the request of then-Ald. William Banks, 36th.

“That was a long time ago, wasn’t he running for Senate or something?” Navarro said. “I don’t remember. I just did the politics to protect my job.

“I don’t know Rahm Emanuel. I just wanted to feel safe in my job, so I joined the 36th Ward organization,” Navarro added. “Then the inspector general came out with all the patronage stuff and there was nothing they could do for us anymore.”

That’s the kind of government background Chicago is used to, if not exactly the kind of good government it needs.

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in which two wolves and a lamb vote on what to have for lunch

Posted by teasel 02/19/2011 at 11:14AM

People give the media some of the lowest approval ratings of any institution in America, so it makes good sense that voters would let the press decide who they support. These past five months of non-stop Rahmbo coverage at the expense of his opponents has provided an invaluable public service, saving people the time and effort of knowing anything about the candidates they’re voting against.

We’re proud to continue in this fine tradition, but we’d be happier with a run off between two candidates that weren’t Rahmbo. If not that, then voting for any other candidate will help push him below the 50% he needs for an outright win and force a run off election between him and anybody else. And anybody else is better than Rahm.

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houston, we have a problem

Posted by teasel 02/19/2011 at 07:16AM

During Thursday’s debate on ABC7 Rahm told us what he’ll ask other people to do about education:

EMANUEL: If a kid in Chicago goes from kindergarten all the way to high shool and their cousin is in Houston, kingergarten to high school, the cousin in Houston spends four more years in a class room than the cousin in Chicago. A full high school education. I will seek and go to Springfield to raise the minimum for both the length of the year and the length of the day.

This is a great example. Texas, that ranks 47th in literacy, 49th in verbal and 46th in math SAT scores. Texas, whose Board of Education doesn’t want kids to learn basic biology or anything resembling actual history. We need to do what they’re doing.

EMANUEL: Fourth, make sure parents are involved in their kids’ education, because walking through that front door to the house is the most important door where a child learns an education.

The home is the most important contributor to a child’s education, that’s why he wants them to spend less time there.

I don’t think there’s a candidate for mayor that doesn’t support lengthening the school year, though the others are more candid about how much it will cost, so this policy is a wash for voters. But this is hands down the worst argument any of them has ever made for it. I’m sure it’ll be a real hit in Springfield, where our next mayor will have to argue for it.

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this town is full of those fucking idiots, too

Posted by teasel 02/18/2011 at 09:10AM

One of my favorite stories about Rahmbo during his time as the White House secretary is when he called liberals ”fucking retarded” for suggesting attack ads against conservative Democrats who were refusing to support Obama’s healthcare plan. We admire a man who gets so enraged at the idea of attacking allies who oppose him that he lashes out at the allies that support him. That Rahm apologized to the special olympics but not liberals should especially appeal to Chicago’s population of disabled conservatives.

But how and why he’s leading in the polls in one of the most liberal cities in America I have no idea. When the polls confuse me I always like to reflect on the ancient wisdom of Rambo III, “Allah must love crazy people, he makes so many of them.”

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don't touch the crown

Posted by teasel 02/17/2011 at 01:50PM

When Mayor Dick Daley decided not to run for another term Rahm Emanuel stepped down from White House Chief of Staff to run for Dick’s position, and Obama replaced Rahmbo with Dick’s brother Bill. Rahm and Bill worked closely together during the Clinton administration to ratify NAFTA in 1994, gutting out the labor and environmental provisions that Obama promised to re-insert during the campaign. Obama’s White House abandoned that campaign promise a few months after assuming office. You can hardly blame them: Rahmbo’s work to shove NAFTA through ratification is something he ”considers one of the crowning achievements of his government service,” and you wouldn’t want to reset the jewels of his crown. He might swear at you if you did that, or even poke you in the chest.

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"separate, unequal, and ignored"

Posted by teasel 02/17/2011 at 12:15PM

From Steve Bogira’s excellent Reader article on racial segregation and the mayor’s race:

I sought to speak with the six mayoral candidates about racial segregation, and five of them obliged. (Carol Moseley Braun’s spokesperson didn’t answer numerous calls and messages.) None of the candidates have a comprehensive plan aimed at directly addressing racial segregation, and I got the impression they hadn’t thought about the issue much. … Rahm Emanuel would only answer questions by e-mail….

I asked him in a follow-up how a city could provide those things in neighborhoods with concentrated poverty.

“We start by promoting economic development,” his response said, “and that can begin by establishing strong anchors in each community—a grocery store where there isn’t one, a transportation hub that helps residents access job opportunities, a great school that serves as a community center for job training.” He offered as an illustration the Old Town School of Folk Music’s move in 1998 to Lincoln Avenue, into a space “that had little economic vitality. By creating a strong anchor in the community and pushing small businesses to fill in around it, a vibrant local economy that creates jobs and produces revenue for the city can be established. We need to do this in more communities.”

That may be a good example of neighborhood economic development, but it seems unrelated to addressing concentrated poverty. Lincoln Square’s individual poverty rate was 13 percent in 1990 and 11 percent in 2000—well below the citywide rates of 22 percent and 19 percent those years. If Lincoln Square had been an area of concentrated poverty, would the Old Town School have even considered moving in?

I asked Emanuel if he’d make any direct efforts to desegregate neighborhoods, or if he saw desegregation as mainly a by-product of the safe streets, good schools, and jobs he’d ensure. “The latter,” he said.

He noted that he’d worked on the Plan for Transformation as vice-chair of the CHA. This was the federally funded program under which most of the city’s high-rise projects were demolished. A few of the residents got units in mixed-income developments built on the sites of the old projects; most were given rent vouchers and settled elsewhere. “While the policy was not perfect, combating the cycles of poverty that were fostered by the CHA high rises and building mixed-income housing developments scattered throughout the city has helped promote integration,” he said.

The tearing down of the high-rises offered an extraordinary chance for widespread desegregation, which might have happened had the displaced residents gotten more counseling and support to help them move to middle-class neighborhoods. But a study of the plan in the 2009 Journal of Public Affairs found that most of the displaced residents merely moved from their vertical ghettos to horizontal ones, settling in “disadvantaged, predominantly black neighborhoods.”

This is the first article I’ve seen that gives Rahm’s role at the CHA more than a passing mention. He was appointed by Mayor Daley to be its first vice chairman after the CHA regained its independence from the Department of Housing and Urban Development in 1999, and helped produce the original “plan for transformation” that has guided the CHA policy to move families from public housing into homeless shelters for over a decade.

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rooting out waste and corruption in Chicago would be easier if we elected a mayor who wasn't rooted in waste and corruption

Posted by teasel 02/17/2011 at 09:43AM

21 minutes into the WTTW Valentine’s debate, Carol Marin asked Rahm Emanuel about his service at Freddie Mac, and he answered the question he wished she’d asked:

MARIN: Mr. Emanuel, in a recent debate you never answered a question about whether you earned $320,000 to attend six meetings a year on the scandal ridden mortgage giant Freddie Mac, where, on your watch, the ground work was laid for the greatest housing crisis since the great depression. Would you agree that you and your colleagues on that board were asleep at the switch? But, first of all, did you earn it?

EMANUEL: I was paid like every other board member.

The question was “did you earn it,” not “were you paid like other board members.” Did any board member earn it? Did the other board members get campaign contributions too?

Rahm continued:

EMANUEL: I was appointed to that position because I was Vice Chair of the Chicago Housing Authority, and President Clinton wanted somebody with public housing and mixed income housing background. In addition to that point, I was there in 1999 and 2000, the housing crisis is in 2007 and 2008. As you well know, Ben Bernanke, as well as Alan Greenspan, the entire Treasury Department, as well as the entire fed, nobody predicted in 2000 a housing crisis in 2008. The only person who probably believes that I could have seen ahead is my mother. Eight years ahead of time, not possible.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way first: Rahm served on the board from February 2000 through May 2001, not from 1999 to 2000. It was during his actual time on the board that Freddie Mac was misreporting its earnings to mislead investors, the same board that ignored warnings about the accounting scandal from regulators that resulted in $50 million in fines for Freddie Mac. It was immediately upon his leaving the board to run for Rod Blagojevich’s congressional seat that Freddie Mac illegally donated $25,000 to Emanuel’s campaign, his third largest contributor. That contribution was part of a plan hatched during Emanuel’s time on the board to influence the House Financial Services Committee that oversaw Freddie Mac, coincidentally the first committee Rahm was appointed to.

To be fair, the Obama administration is blocking FOIA requests so we don’t actually know if Rahm ever showed up at the switch to sleep at it. For all we know he may have missed the meetings he was paid $320,000 to attend, much like taxpayers paid him not to attend the committee hearings on Freddie and Fannie because he recused himself over the conflict of interest he created when he accepted those illegal campaign contributions.

Rahm tells us he was appointed by President Clinton to serve on Freddie Mac’s board because he had been appointed by Mayor Richard Daley to serve as vice-chair of the CHA. That’s two appointments from public officials for whom Rahm raised millions of dollars ($7M for Dick’s first mayoral bid in 1989, $70M for Bill in 1992), and he’s somehow got the nuts to complain about revolving doors during this election. The number of revolving doors he’s been through makes your head spin.

He wants us to believe the appointments were based on merit and experience, but somehow he doesn’t know enough about campaign finance law after financing campaigns for over a decade to know that the campaign contributions organized by the organization he served on the board of were illegal. Asleep at the switch? He’s narcoleptic around switches.

Rahm’s role in overseeing housing finance didn’t end when he left the CHA or when he left Freddie Mac. During his first term in congress he served on the House Financial Services Committee - a detail he neglects on his campaign website - where he oversaw federal regulation of the securities, insurance, banking, and housing industries. Nobody may have seen the housing crisis coming in 2000 when the groundwork was still being laid for the bubble, but well before 2003 the alarm bells were ringing and Rahm was asleep at an even bigger switch.

Forbes questioned the “wild appreciation” in the housing market all the way back in September, 2001. UCLA economist Ed Learner warned about the bubble in June 2002. Economist Dean Baker raised the same warning two months later. Economists Karl Case and Robert Shiller - who invented the Case-Schiller Home Price Index - published their warning about the housing bubble shortly after Rahm took his seat on the Finance Committee. Less than a year later Chicago’s own Northern Trust, among many others, was predicting disaster. Rahm is using the “nobody could have predicted” excuse, but plenty of people got it right. Greenspan and Bernanke were just famously wrong, and at least one of them had the decency to be embarassed by the error.

Rahmblo says he’s serious about education reform, but here he is trying to rig the curve by ignoring the people who got the answer right.

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obama on rahmbo

Posted by teasel 02/15/2011 at 11:19AM

The Rahmbo campaign keeps releasing ads featuring kind words from President Obama at Rahm’s going away party. But his words aren’t always so kind when he’s reflecting on Rahm’s performance. You might remember that Obama put Rahm in charge of marshalling the administration’s health care plan through congress, something Rahm didn’t want to do and didn’t do terribly well. He made a hash of the President’s campaign promises on drug prices in backroom deals with the industry’s lobby, and repeatedly contradicted the President’s public position on the public option in the press and to lawmakers. Neither popular policy made it into the final bill. When President Obama discussed how his administration - which is to say Rahm - managed health care reform with Diane Sawyer, he told her that ”it’s an ugly process and it looks like there are a bunch of back room deals.”

That’s a hell of an endorsement.

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NICE T---

Posted by teasel 02/14/2011 at 10:57PM

WTTW hosted a love in for Valentine’s Day with four of our six candidates. It made me sick a few times, but I watched the whole thing.

what was blown is blown, unless it really blows

Posted by teasel 02/11/2011 at 05:25PM

Rahmbo has a principled stance on hypothetical questions about unpopular policies that directly benefited one of his top campaign donors:

Q: Would you have [privatized Chicago’s parking meters]?

RAHM EMANUEL: It’s not helpful or productive to say, would I have done something in the past. It’s done.

Unless, apparently, the hypothetical question is about an unpopular policy that wasted trillions of dollars and killed thousands of people for no good reason:

MR. RUSSERT: You voted–you said you would have voted for the war if you had been in Congress.

REP. EMANUEL: Right.

MR. RUSSERT: Now, knowing that are no weapons of mass destruction, would you still have cast that vote?

REP. EMANUEL: Yes.

The lesson I take from this is that Rahmbo can be a real straight shooter, but only when there’s real shooting involved.

In that spirit, Rahm has no position on fighting the parking meter deal, which is to say he has no intention of fighting it. And why would he? Unlike, say, city worker pensions, the parking meter deal “is done.” Some candidates for mayor don’t like the idea of Chicagoans paying billions of dollars to Morgan Stanley & Co. over the next 75 years to park in their own city, but what’s $9 billion in our parking fees between old pals? His only complaint is how the remainder was spent, not how our streets were sold for a song to his friends at Morgan Stanley.

To be fair, Rahm also criticized the sale of our parking meters for reducing the amount of free parking: not along the lake shore, but at the 40,000 meters that used to protect our rides from bike thieves. As a fiscally conservative cyclist himself, he says he’s going to have the City buy half the meters back as bicycle racks. A little million dollar insult added to a billion dollar injury never hurt nobody.

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rahm blows

Posted by teasel 02/11/2011 at 01:23PM

How did this domain name go unclaimed for twenty years? All these enemies he supposedly has have really been sleeping on the job.

Or maybe they’d just like to keep them.