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Reporting on Springfield from Chicago

Tuesday, Jun 6, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* In a 2,300-word piece about how Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Statehouse operation is lousy, we find this buried paragraph

Of course, there’s a limit to what any one politician—even one as experienced as Emanuel—can accomplish long-distance, particularly in a state and a party so dominated by the likes of Madigan and an opponent as entrenched as Rauner. And with Emanuel’s backing, City Hall in the most recent legislative session scored some wins around crime, school funding and a bump in the city’s 911 tax, while close lieutenants such as Michael Sacks worked the back channel to move some pension and tax measures forward. That said, the standoff in Springfield constitutes an emergency of epic proportions for the city of Chicago, and yet its chief executive has remained away from the public front lines in the fight.

The article compares Emanuel unfavorably to Richard M. Daley, but Daley always talked a big game on gun bills and never really delivered. Emanuel got his gun crimes bill passed over the strong opposition of some Black Caucus members. Not an easy feat, to say the least.

The author breezes past the school funding issue, but, again, this was a huge piece of legislation. Yeah, it’ll probably be vetoed, but if they can ever get the talks back on track, evidence based funding will be very beneficial for the city’s schools. We now have a template for an eventual agreement.

And that “bump” in the city’s 911 tax will take pressure off local property taxes for police and fire pensions. The bill passed with lots of Republican support, even though it was labeled a Chicago “bail out” by the governor’s people. Again, that wasn’t easy.

Also, Sacks was in Springfield almost constantly during the final days of the session. He worked like crazy on that school funding issue, among other things.

* The Southern

“One of the things I’ve been saying to folks is, if this were any other year, where the budget negotiations weren’t part of the discussions, you would have to say, this has been a really bellwether year from the General Assembly, in terms of progress on K-12 school funding, pension reform, procurement reform, they’re making progress on worker’s comp reform — maybe not as far as people want it to go, but they’re making movement on some of these things that have been pretty much intractable issues over the years,” [Jak Tichenor, interim director at the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute] said.

They also got an agreement on automatic voter registration, plus a ton of other stuff.

* If there was no impasse, Emanuel and others would probably be lauded for this spring session. But there is an impasse, and Chicagoans think their mayor is supposed to be all powerful, so he’s getting some of the blame.

Could Emanuel do more? Heck yes he could. In my opinion, the mayor needs to go to his friend John Cullerton and urge him to somehow get the grand bargain talks back on track and offer to help any way he can.

* This is pretty good, however

A top Chicago political consultant who asks not to be named says that after that scandal and the continuing federal investigation into how the Police Department and the Emanuel administration handled the case, the mayor “has less political capital to spend,” so not getting involved in Springfield’s dysfunction is a risk worth taking. “From both a political and time-management perspective, it’s not the worst decision if a high-profile person like the mayor is not involved in the budget talks, because if you lose, it’s not necessarily a reflection on him, but on Springfield. You don’t want that lack of success splashing on you,” the consultant says. “The mayor’s pretty calculating that way.”

He is indeed a calculating man. Too calculating, if you ask me.

* Also

But another reason is one that existed long before the police reform issue caught fire: Emanuel’s lack of clout. The previous two Daley administrations had iron-bound ties to Springfield because father and son were both major power brokers in the Democratic Party and with Republicans. Richard J. served 10 years in the state House and Senate before becoming Cook County Democratic chairman and then mayor; Richard M. was an Illinois state senator for eight years. That experience translated to power once they presided over City Hall because legislators understood that to survive re-election, they had to give Chicago’s mayor what he wanted.

Wait. I thought those were supposed to be the bad ol’ days. Careful what you wish for.

* One more thing

So far it appears that Emanuel has left city lobbying to the Department of Intergovernmental Affairs. Collins, his spokesman, will not say who is in charge of such lobbying, and phone calls to the department were not returned. Michael Rendina stepped down​ last year to become Emanuel’s senior adviser.

Maria Guerra runs Intergovernmental Affairs. Victoria Watkins directs the Springfield operation (Chicago Lawyer just did a big profile on her). And Rendina was in town with Michael Sacks toward the end of session. I saw him all over the place.


  1. - Rocky Rosi - Tuesday, Jun 6, 17 @ 12:57 pm:

    Brother Rham has no power in the state capital. All power is with Mike Madigan. Mike Sacks is just the man that shows up and no one listens to him.

  2. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jun 6, 17 @ 12:58 pm:

    ===and no one listens to him===

    I wouldn’t bet on that.

  3. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Jun 6, 17 @ 1:03 pm:

    It’s complicated man. Changing the school funding formula is huge, if he can get it done. But he needs Rauner to veto the elected school board too, so he can’t be too aggressively partisan.

    Sometimes the Mayor is going to be with Madigan/Cullerton, sometimes with the Governer. The Governor is making it tough for the Mayor to oppose him, he’s cut off most of the funding for CPS and vetoed the pension pick-up $$. He trashed the 911 bill.

    But whenever Rahm inches closer to Rauner, with whom he shares an enormous political and FR base, Madigan and others remind him that there are no long-term friends in politics, only long-term interests.

    And the consultant is right. Rahm doesn’t want the stink of failure on him, and frankly, his power is diminished and he has LOTS of other stuff on his plate.

    It’s complicated man.

  4. - 51st ward - Tuesday, Jun 6, 17 @ 1:07 pm:

    The elected school board doesn’t take effect until 2023, doubt Rahm cares about that.

  5. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jun 6, 17 @ 1:10 pm:

    Their failure to read the tea leaves and the tone deaf way the IGA apparatus managed the elected school board legislation was telling.

  6. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Jun 6, 17 @ 1:14 pm:

    ===Emanuel’s lack of clout.===

    My, bar none, favorite “adult beverage” discussion on politics, especially Illinois politics…


    The premise; what is the right amount of clout you feel leaders, parties, political actors should have?

    It usually begins with, ironically…

    “We don’t get OUR fair share for… ”

    Ok. What do you want different?

    “I want (blank) to do what they’re elected to do, represent us”

    Ok, to get X passed, they need to work with both sides, and with leaders that control votes. People like GA leadership and the governor. Then, use what influence they can have to get this passed

    “They (pick a side, ugh) control (pick their people) so we won’t get it.”

    This rhetorical, rudimentary exercise of discussing, and finding where “clout” fits, it’s always a great discussion, and my favorite ending can be with the closed minded…

    “When I find the use for clout, what I think is good is fine. When others find a use for clout, they seem to always choose bad things!”

    Always fun with a beverage.

    To all that and the Post too…

    Clout and compromise, working within doing the doable for worthy goals that can make whole everyone, that’s the “sausage making” of legislation and governing. Doesn’t mean it’s good or even bad, it just means if can be an effective tool when wielded.

    The timing of wielding it and for what, Rahm and his Legislative Staff included… that’s what working for passage is all about. The amount of clout that can be wielded also can’t dismiss that clout does exist, even with Rahm.

  7. - Whatthewhat - Tuesday, Jun 6, 17 @ 1:16 pm:

    Does the press not realize the governor is in an all out war against Rahm, Chicago and CPS?

  8. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jun 6, 17 @ 1:18 pm:

    ===the tone deaf way the IGA apparatus managed the elected school board legislation was telling. ===

    Meh. They took a hugely popular but “hostile” bill and neutered it by pushing back the effective date by years.

  9. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jun 6, 17 @ 1:46 pm:

    The columnist exposed himself to be a rookie. I bet Greg Hinz got a chuckle reading it.

  10. - LizPhairTax - Tuesday, Jun 6, 17 @ 1:50 pm:

    More Paul Lee!

  11. - Roman - Tuesday, Jun 6, 17 @ 1:57 pm:

    == Emanual’s lack of clout in Springfield ==

    Part of that is due to Rahm’s lack of popularity — which is self-inflicted. But it’s also due to factors largely beyond Rahm’s control. It used to be that most Cook County-based legislators were tied to their aldermen and committeemen, who were usually close with the mayor — or at least feared the mayor. What’s more, a whole bunch of legislators used to be on the city or county payroll when they weren’t in Springfield.

    Those connections and pressure points gave Chicago mayors a block of reliable votes in the G.A. that came in handy at the negotiating table with the Guv and legislative leaders. That’s almost all disappeared in the post-Shakman era. As a result, we live in a time when the CTU president can move far more votes in the G.A. than the mayor can, as the roll call for the elected school board bill demonstrates.

    One of the main sources of the Rauner-Rahm war is the fact that the governor thought the mayor could and would help him in Springfield. The truth is Rahm can’t help much at all — even if he wanted to. I still don’t think the Raunerites get that.

  12. - Workin' - Tuesday, Jun 6, 17 @ 2:26 pm:

    The Taste in Springfield was always a boondoggle that Luking & team could use to butter up assorted friends and family and shrooms. RMD traipsing around with his senior team for the issue of the day (see John Harris, Chicago Casino) was valuable in that it delivered the message to the leaders of what his top priority was. But the deals were never cut on that day, and sending Sacks down probably accomplished as much if not more, as he doesn’t wear the jacket for saying no to various legislative requests that that CPS/CTA/CPD etc. always do.

  13. - Annonin' - Tuesday, Jun 6, 17 @ 2:36 pm:

    Anybody got any info on this stooge…there were also more DopeyDuct”early release” bills passed, new fees — some higher, some lower — for courts. Is it safe this got a briefin’ by DopeyDuct crack team.
    BTW the beer tent was fun, but it got expensive and was never really persuasive. Free Chicagofest and/or Taste of Chicago tickets worked better.

  14. - Amalia - Tuesday, Jun 6, 17 @ 2:42 pm:

    wow. that Chicago Biz columnist can’t even work the internet! out of it.

  15. - John Dunn - Tuesday, Jun 6, 17 @ 3:41 pm:

    Not sure what the point of that article was. Looks to me like the City of Chicago had a pretty good session.

  16. - Rhonda - Tuesday, Jun 6, 17 @ 8:24 pm:

    Saw this article a few days ago and laughed at how ignorant the writer is. Maybe his next piece can be on the “rubber stamp city council”. Also notable that Kurt Summers shows his real stripes in taking a cheap and uninformed swipe at the mayor.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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