Hey, Governor Rauner—open the books! | Bleader

Monday, February 22, 2016

Hey, Governor Rauner—open the books!

Posted By on 02.22.16 at 06:00 AM

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click to enlarge "This is the pen I used to veto your college dreams." - PHOTO: AP/SETH PERLMAN, CAPTION: KENZO SHIBATA
  • Photo: AP/Seth Perlman, Caption: Kenzo Shibata
  • "This is the pen I used to veto your college dreams."

As part of his latest attempt to drive CPS to bankruptcy, Governor Rauner has attempted to transform himself into Tom Tresser.

That's no easy task, as Rauner's a billionaire who made his fortune in part by managing state pension funds, thus securing the millions he needed to essentially buy up the state Republican Party and finance his campaign for governor. Now in office, Rauner's chief mission seems to be to destroy unions and shred worker pensions—presumably without having to return any of the money he and his partners made from managing them.

In contrast, Tom Tresser's a citizen activist of the Green Party persuasion, one on a crusade to force Mayor Emanuel to reveal how he's spending our tax dollars.

Yet, just the other day, Rauner had a Tresser-like moment, demanding that Emanuel open up the books on CPS spending.

In particular, Rauner directed Tony Smith and James Meeks—appointees who run the state board of education—to order Chicago Public Schools to turn over specific information regarding its budget, payroll, and bond obligations.

If CPS doesn't meet the governor's March 4 deadline, Rauner's threatening to withhold state aid.

I was of two minds when I read about Rauner's ultimatum.

On the one hand, I was like—go get `em, tiger. Make Rahm show us the good stuff!

On the other hand, I was like—whatever you're up to, Rauner, I know it's no good. 

In particular, I suspect Rauner wants to use whatever dirt he unearths as an excuse to cut state aid to CPS. Thus, forcing CPS to pay exorbitant fees to Wall Street to borrow more money.

Like the $110 million CPS recently paid to Wall Street lenders in order to borrow $615 million.

Rauner goes on and on against every itty-bitty raise CPS teachers get, but he's awfully silent when it comes to bankers feeding from the public trough.

Especially when his actions force CPS to pay even more in borrowing fees.

The governor's cry for CPS transparency is also ironic considering his hostility to FOIA requests from reporters regarding his schedule.

Mick Dumke, my First Tuesdays partner in crime, started this crusade back in the days when we were tag teaming it here at the Reader.

When Mick filed a Freedom of Information Act request to get a look at the governor's schedule, Rauner responded by turning over a heavily redacted version.

Mick appealed to the Illinois attorney general's office, asking officials there to make Rauner unredact the redactions.

Rauner responded by basically saying Mick's lucky he turned over any information at all. 

After all, he's the sultan and sultans don't have to tell little people, like Mick, who they're meeting with.

OK, Rauner didn't put it that way exactly, but in so many words.

Eventually, the attorney general ruled that even sultans have to publish their schedules—without redactions.

Since then, Rauner's taken to writing his schedule in Sanskrit.

Rather, he uses initials, not full names. Like this entry from Rauner's October 7 schedule, where he lists afternoon meetings with "MH,"  "EB,” “MW,” “JC,” and “AP," as Mick recently reported.

It reminds me of that hilarious scene in The Odd Couple, where Oscar explodes at Felix:

"You leave me little notes on my pillow. `We're all out of corn flakes. F.U.' It took me three hours to figure out that F.U. was Felix Unger."

You know, as the years go by, my love for The Odd Couple continues to grow.

Out of curiosity, I asked the real Tom Tresser what he thought about Rauner's demand for CPS information.

"I'm for it—at least in spirit, though I'm a little suspicious about the execution by this governor," said Tresser. "But a complete and independent audit of the books? By all means, let's do it."

He's got a point. So here's my suggestion.

As long as Rahm has to open his books to Rauner, let's make Rauner open his books to Rahm.

Rauner should turn over all information regarding the state budget, payroll, and contracts to the mayor's bean counters. So we can see how Rauner's spending our tax dollars, too.

While we're at it, governor, let us know who you're meeting with.

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