Friday, March 27, 2009

The Usual Suspects

Posted By on 03.27.09 at 12:22 PM

It's starting to get surreal, even for Chicago.

On Thursday, Mayor Daley's Olympic planners announced that they'd negotiated "a long-awaited deal with community groups on contracting opportunities, jobs and affordable housing," as Crain's put it.

They made it seem like the end point of a tough negotiations in which competing interests forged compromise on common ground.

Please.

The deal was ostensibly struck between Chicago 2016, the organization Mayor Daley put together to oversee the games, and the Outreach Advisory Council, a group put together by Chicago 2016. Think of it as Mayor Daley negotiating with himself.

The co-chair of the council is Michael Scott. That would the same Michael Scott who's been a Daley ally since the early 80s. He's currently serving his second stint as the mayor's handpicked school board president. He's also served as the mayor's handpicked president of the Park District board.

The other council co-chair is Terry Peterson, who was Daley's campaign manager in the 2007 election. Before that Peterson was Daley's CEO of the Chicago Housing Authority. 

Also praising the deal was Juan Rangel, another council member. He's the CEO of the United Neighborhood Organization, which has contracts with the Chicago Public Schools (run by Daley) to manage eight charter schools in the city.

I realize Daley's allies will praise Daley's plans. But don't be foolish enough to believe this represents an independent affirmation of the Olympics. Winning support from Scott, Peterson, and Rangel is like calling a press conference to announce that Maggie Daley has endorsed the Olympics.

Actually, Maggie might drive a harder bargain. 

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