Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

The $100 Million Hustle

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The $100 Million Hustle

In this month’s Fall Veto Session, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has concentrated his lobbying efforts on two big bills.

The first would provide a $100 million tax break to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, which is threatening to leave the state if it’s subjected to the same tax increase everyone else has to pay.

The second would allow the city of Chicago to install speed cameras near schools. According to The Expired Meter, this could generate over $100 million in fines.

Now do you see what Mayor 1% is up to? He’s trying to shift the burden of funding state and local government from his wealthy friends in the financial industry to the ordinary chump driving a Ford Focus. From the 1% percent who funded his campaign to the 99% who can’t afford to attend one of his meet-and-greets.

The Merc gave Emanuel $200,000 during his mayoral campaign, making it his second-biggest contributor, after Hollywood mogul Haim Saban. Presumably, if he comes through with this tax break, they’ll donate some of the savings to his New Chicago Committee. If you or I get a $100 speeding ticket, it’s not like we would have sent that money to Emanuel. We would have used it to pay off credit cards or student loans. From a campaign finance standpoint, he’s got far more to gain by helping the Merc than he has to lose by soaking drivers. He can just say we deserved the fine because we endangered the lives of schoolchildren.

The shift from taxes to fees is regressive. It’s unfair. But it’s Rahm’s style of governance.

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