Get sick, get well
Hang around a ink well
Ring bell, hard to tell
If anything is goin' to sell
-- Bob Dylan

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Union busting behind Rahm's privatization of Midway

I don't agree. 
A story in today's Sun-Times reveals some of the real reasons behind Rahm Emanuel's assault on public space and public decision making. Reporter Fran Spielman's story is all about the planned privatization of Midway Airport. But it could just as easily be about privately-run charter schools, the Chicago Skyway, or the expansion of privately-managed charter schools. 

This time it's Aviation Committee Chairman Michael Zalewski (23rd), whose ward includes Midway, who's kicking sand in Rahm's face. He’s concerned that a private contractor would attempt to shoehorn more late-night flights into the airport. But he's also worried about a revolt from the many union members who live in his ward.
His concerns are exacerbated by the fact that one of two finalists for the Midway lease — Spain’s Ferrovial — has been accused of “union busting and black-listing,” Zalewski said. 
“A number of employees from Europe came to see me last week with these allegations — that one of the finalists is a notorious union-busting company,” the alderman said.
“I told them I needed proof. I’m awaiting that documentation. But, if it’s true, that’s a huge problem” that would require Emanuel to either risk a political donnybrook with organized labor’s City Council allies or award the contract to the only other bidder, Zalewski said.
Great Britain’s largest union has alleged that a union shop steward on a massive London tunnel project that includes Ferrovial was fired and black-listed after raising health and safety concerns on behalf of rank-and-file employees.
The Great Lakes Airport Alliance is a partnership between Ferrovial and Australia’s Macquarie Group that leased the Chicago Skyway for 99 years. The rival team includes Industry Funds Management of Australia and Manchester Airports Group.

Could things be any clearer?

Ahmad and Rahm
Carrying Rahm's water in defending Midway's privatization is none other than his Chief Financial Officer Lois Scott.  If you don't know who Scott is, she's the one who recommended Rahm's former comptroller Amer Ahmad, who was just indicted in Ohio on conspiracy charges about directing state investments in exchange for bribes. Ahmad currently sits on the boards of all four of the City's largest pension funds. Ahmad tendered his resignation to Emanuel on July 23, more than 10 months after the former comptroller was questioned by FBI agents in the probe involving his tenure as Ohio deputy treasurer.

It turns out that Scott's private financial firm apparently worked on some $200 million in state highway construction bonds in Ohio and that Scott Balice Strategies LLC, co-owned by Scott, served as "financial adviser to the treasurer" on those Ohio deals. Scott sold her interest in the firm in 2011 when she came to work at City Hall.

As you might expect, Scott loves the Midway privatization deal. If you were in her expensive shoes, you would too.

Lois Scott 
Funny, Crain's has been all over Rahm for his choice of Ahmad as his chief money guy.  But looking back, guess what I found. Ahmad had made Crain's 2012 40 Under 40 list and quoted the high praise being offered by none other than, Lois Scott.
"There's been some extraordinary results," says city CFO Lois Scott, noting Mr. Ahmad's perhaps not universally appreciated efforts to get tax and fine delinquents to pay up, or the more than $100 million she says he saved by tightening up the city's health insurance coverage. "I give major credit to Amer."
The best quote in the Crain's story comes pre-indictment  from Ahmad himself :
What's next? Government pension reform, he says, adding with a smile, "Sometimes I miss the private sector."
I'll bet you do, Amer.  And they will miss you too, while you're (uhm) away.

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