“Ethics reform.” That’s what Mayor Rahm Emanuel is calling his new limit on lobbyists' gifts to city employees. From now on, lobbyists would be limited to $50 for each non-cash gift to city employees and $100 in total gifts per year. Lobbyists also would be prohibited from loaning money to city employees, officials or their business.
And the mayor is doing this at a time when he’s freezing wages for teachers? How exactly is a public servant supposed to make a little graft now?
It’s easy for Emanuel to ban gifts from lobbyists. He doesn’t need them. He got an $18.5 million gift from Wasserstein, Perella & Co., as a token of the investment banking firm’s gratitude for his White House contacts.
The $50 limit means a lobbyist can’t treat a city worker to the courtside Bulls tickets said worker would never be able to afford on a government salary. Instead, they’ll have to sit in the upper deck. Emanuel, you may have noticed, always sits courtside.
The limit also means a lobbyist can’t dine with a city worker at MK Chicago restaurant, where Emanuel recently attended a fundraiser for President Obama. The Spring Tasting Menu is $54. Perhaps MK can solve that problem by offering 10 percent off with a City of Chicago pay stub. Otherwise, there’ll be a lot more lobbying done at Phil’s Kastle Hamburgers on the East Side.
Really, these new “ethics” rules are no different than Emanuel’s offering higher salaries to top Chicago Public Schools administrators while stiffing teachers on their annual pay raise. As Chicago magazine’s Whet Moser noted in a post on that decision, “income inequality seems to be more culturally acceptable than it was decades ago.” In Emanuel’s administration, rank has its privileges.
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