In Chicago, “reform” just means a different set of ethically compromised political insiders get rich off the taxpayers.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel promoted himself as a reformer. And now it looks like he's throwing a big, meaty bone to his old campaign manager Greg Goldner, who also happens to be a
lobbyist media consultant for the company that would install speed cameras at intersections near schools and parks.
I think Goldner is the sleaziest cat in Chicago politics. I mean that as a compliment, since there’s so much competition. He’s like a character out of "We Don’t Want Nobody Nobody Sent." Goldner has managed a number of Illinois campaigns. Three of those campaigns ultimately resulted in jail time for Daley department heads. Ald. John Pope’s 1999 election to the city council led to jail for Streets and San chief Al Sanchez. Water Department head Don Tomczak went to prison for forcing workers to go door-to-door in aid of Emanuel’s 2002 election to Congress and Mayor Richard M. Daley’s 2003 re-election.
Goldner also exploited loopholes in campaign finance laws to ensure that rich folks could contribute anonymously to For A Better Chicago, the campaign fund he founded to aid Emanuel’s favorite City Council candidates.
As consultant to the firm that already supplies Chicago its red-light cameras, Goldner is the architect of a nationwide campaign to promote his client’s expansion prospects. That client, Redflex Traffic Systems Inc., is well-positioned to make tens of millions of dollars from Emanuel's controversial plan to convert many of the red-light cameras into automated speed cameras.
Emanuel is expected to present his speed camera proposal to City Council on Wednesday, and his aides began briefing aldermen on the plan Monday.
In an interview at his Resolute Consulting LLC offices, Goldner said there is no connection between his political support for Emanuel and the mayor’s staunch support for speed cameras. He said he wasn’t aware Emanuel was pushing a speed camera plan in his hometown until he read it in the Tribune in late October.
He acknowledged others may have a different perception.
“The fact is you guys are going to write your story, and you know, it's legitimate,” Goldner said. “It’s a legitimate news story. … I can’t dispute it.”
In a city long defined by the intersection of political clout and business might, Emanuel campaigned on a pledge to change a culture where government is “an insider’s game, serving primarily the lobbyists and well-connected.” But the converging interests of the mayor, his political consultant and the camera company are likely to fuel more skepticism about an initiative already labeled by critics as a money grab for the cash-starved city.
In other words, Goldner insists that there’s no connection between the fact that the mayor’s most ardent fundraiser is also a consultant for the company that will benefit from his most lucrative contract so far. Emanuel, for his part, says “this is about doing the right thing for our children and keeping them safe,” which is what he always says when anyone questions his motivations.
But who will protect our children from political insiders getting rich off their influence?
*Editors Note: Resolute Consulting disputed the use of the word "Lobbyist" in an earlier version of this post. They sent over a statement explaing their relantionship with RedFlex Traffic Systems.
Resolute Consulting has enjoyed a relationship with Redflex Traffic Systems since 2009, providing media communications and advocacy regarding traffic safety cameras across the country.
All of the activities of the Traffic Safety Coalition across the country are open and transparent in the advancement of photo enforcement technology.
Resolute Consulting does not lobby for Redflex Traffic Systems in Chicago, Illinois or anywhere across the county.
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