In his inauguration speech a year ago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel was unequivocal in declaring the start of a new era: “From now on, when it comes to change, Chicago will not take no for an answer.”
Perhaps the times have changed back. Emanuel’s appointment schedule—one of the most direct measurements of how the mayor prioritizes his vast connections—shows that, in addition to the usual insiders and wealthy businessmen who quietly help run the city, wealthy right-wing donors have access to City Hall.
Here’s a sample of the GOP funders, shadow government figures, favor seekers, contractors, mayoral campaign contributors, and longtime insiders who met with Emanuel over a three-month period last fall.
Carrie Austin, thirty-fourth Ward alderman, chair of the City Council budget committee
Based on the number of visits to his office, Austin is one of Emanuel’s favorite aldermen; she was listed on his calendar seven times for individual and group meetings as the mayor prepared for his first council budget vote. On the evening of November 16, a few hours after aldermen approved the budget 50 to 0, Emanuel set aside 15 minutes for a “quick stop by” at a dinner one of his deputies was having with Austin at Ruth’s Chris Steak House. Austin says she’s grateful for the mayor’s attention. “I’m in awe of the experiences I’ve been privileged to have with him,” she says. “That’s my guy.”
Seven meetings from September 8 to November 16, three hours total.
Ed Burke, City Council dean who makes big money representing firms that do business with the city
Way back in February 2011 Emanuel talked about removing Burke as finance committee chairman. It didn’t happen.
Six meetings from September 8 to November 16, three hours total.
Terry Duffy, executive chairman of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange
Duffy sat down with Emanuel twice while CME was lobbying—successfully, it turned out—for a state tax break worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The Merc donated $200,000 to Emanuel’s campaign for mayor. It’s also given to U.S. House speaker John Boehner and Tea Party favorite Michele Bachmann.
September 15, 60 minutes (with Illinois house speaker Michael Madigan); October 7, 30 minutes.
Ken Griffin, CEO of Citadel Investment Group, a hedge fund
Griffin and his wife, Anne Dias-Griffin, each chipped in $100,000 to Emanuel’s mayoral bid. The Griffins also gave more than $1 million to Restore Our Future, a Romney-affiliated PAC, and $1.5 million to Americans for Prosperity, a nonprofit organization created by the billionaire Koch brothers that fights for government deregulation and union busting.
September 19, 60 minutes.
Avis Lavelle, spokeperson for Chicago Parking Meters LLC
LaVelle, a former press aide for Mayor Daley whom Emanuel appointed to the Park District board, now is a mouthpiece for the company that controls the city’s street parking system for the next 72 years. Emanuel has vowed to fight the firm over millions of dollars billed to the city.
September 20, 60 minutes (with other African-American business leaders).
Langdon Neal, chairman of the Chicago Board of Elections
The board ruled last year to keep Emanuel on the mayoral ballot after his residency was challenged. Neal’s law firm, Neal & Leroy, has done millions in no-bid legal work for the city, including $1.8 million last year.
September 26, 30 minutes.
Ozinga Brothers Inc.
Unnamed representatives of the concrete firm stopped by Emanuel’s office with Tenth Ward alderman John Pope as they were seeking support to build a cement production plant on the far-southeast side—in the face of community opposition. In the last ten years, Ozinga has received at least $35 million in contracts from the city and Park District. Emanuel endorsed Ozinga’s plan but didn’t set aside any time for the community opponents.
September 15, 30 minutes.
Richard Price, chairman and CEO of Mesirow Financial, an investment and consulting firm
Price has been donating to Emanuel since he was a congressman, and Mesirow has received no-bid work from the city to work on bond issues. The mayor also tapped Olga Camargo, one of Price’s top lieutenants at Mesirow, to serve on the Chicago Plan Commission, which oversees zoning requests for construction projects.
October 20, 30 minutes; November 17, 30 minutes.
Bruce Rauner, principal and chairman of GTCR, a private equity firm
Rauner helped fund the creation of four Chicago charter schools and has given $80,000 to the national Republican Party since Barack Obama was elected president. He’s also a member of the board of World Business Chicago, a publicly funded, mayor-appointed advisory group.
September 13, 60 minutes.
Dana Rice, partner with Hinshaw & Culbertson
The firm’s other partners include Michael Kasper, who represented Emanuel in his residency case.
September 27, 30 minutes; November 29, 45 minutes (with Michael Sacks).
Jim Rohr, CEO of PNC Bank
PNC has contributed to Romney, House speaker John Boehner, conservative former senator Rick Santorum, and the Eagle Forum, a right-wing organization dedicated to cracking down on “illegal aliens,” limiting abortions, and ending “multiculturalism” in schools.
November 30, 45 minutes.
Michael Sacks, CEO of Grosvenor Capital Management, a hedge fund firm
As vice chairman of World Business Chicago, Sacks essentially serves as Emanuel’s shadow chief of staff and is a regular presence at City Hall. Grosvenor employees and family members donated at least $500,000 to Emanuel’s campaign for mayor.
Seven meetings from September 27 to November 29, four hours and 30 minutes total.
Muneer Satter, retiring managing director at Goldman Sachs and World Business Chicago board member
Satter has given at least $190,000 to Mitt Romney. Goldman Sachs gets no-bid work as an advisor on city bond issues, including a $600 million bond sale last month. In February the CTA picked the firm to advise it on “public-private partnerships” to help finance infrastructure.
September 1, 60 minutes.
Patrick Daley Thompson, nephew of former mayor Rich Daley and grandson of the first Boss Daley
Thompson stopped by City Hall during his successful primary campaign for the water reclamation district board.
October 4, 30 minutes.
Dan and Patty Walsh, longtime friends of the Daley family
The Walshes’ firm, Walsh Construction, has received hundreds of millions of dollars in city contracts over the last decade, including about $70 million since Emanuel took office.
November 28, 30 minutes.
Photo credits, from top: Jean Lachat, Sun-Times Media; Rich-Hein, Sun-Times Media; MarketsWiki; MarketsWiki; Brian Jackson, Sun-Times Media; Al Podgorski, Sun-Times Media; no credit; Keith Hale, Sun-Times Media; Al Podgorski, Sun-Times Media