'Transparency'? For City Hall, maybe, but not for CPS... Rahm brags about City Hall budget information availability, while he encourages massive coverups from Jean-Claude Brizard and CPS

It was a typical Rahm Emanuel City Hall press release and publicity stunt — but with a twist or two. Considering it is touted as the Next Big Thing from Chicago’s energetic media-soaked mayor, even the dullest corporate reporters might have noticed that the mayor didn’t seem to want reporters asking questions about it. Maybe that was because the questions could actually be about some inconvenient truths about city budget, and about the murky budget cover-ups and falsehoods down the street from City Hall, a the headquarters of Chicago’s public schools.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel hosts at least one publicity stunt, media event, or show every day, six days out of every week. Above, Emanuel speaking about the wonders of the Academy of Urban School Leadership during a carefully scripted two-hour event at "Morton School of Excellence" on Chicago's west side on November 29, 2011. Substance photo by Sharon Schmidt. So Chicago news organizations received another mayoral press release. It was, by Substance’s estimate, the 22nd of the week that began on November 27, and possibly the 500th during the six months since Rahm Emanuel was inaugurated Mayor of Chicago in May 2011. It may have been an important announcement, but instead of announcing another media event starring Rahm Emanuel, this one came out in the dead of night and was “embargoed” until the wee hours of a Sunday morning. The city’s mayor may have been proud of the “transparency” he was announcing in the city’s budget, but he sure didn’t want to talk about it.

For reasons not explained, the mayor was making an announcement on a Saturday night, but it was embargoed until Sunday morning. Anyway, the announcement was another bragging press release about how much "transparency" was going on since Rahm Emanuel took over on the Fifth Floor at Chicago's City Hall in May 2011. Left out was the fact that Rahm's appointees at the Board of Education were continuing the massive cover up of everything about CPS finances (which are almost as large as the City of Chicago's) even while the mayor bragged about how much he was doing to make clear city finances to the public.

At its December 2011 meeting, the Chicago Board of Education will receive a copy of the Board's "Comprehensive Annual Financial Report" (CAFR). But the Board will try and keep the document secret until January 2012 or later, because once again the CAFR will show how much CPS lied about its alleged "deficit" during the crucial months of April, May and June 2010. The CAFR is always the audited books for the previous fiscal year, so the CAFR that the Board will have in December 2011 is for the fiscal year that went from July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011. None of the lies told by CPS since July 1, 2011 — or the Big Lie of June 15, 2011, when Rahm's Board, under Jean-Claude Brizard, claimed it was too broke to pay the fifth year raise to union workers — will be known until the audited books are finalized in December 2012, by which time the first year of Rahm's CPS budget lies will be a kind of ancient history.

The other Big Lie that CPS continues is the cover up of all of the discussions the Board holds in Executive Session. Since mayoral control began in 1995, the Chicago Board of Education has voted to maintain the secrecy of all of its discussions in closed session, voting every year in July and January to maintain the secrecy of every discussion held. The Chicago Board of Education barely discusses anything in public. The hiring of Jean-Claude Brizard and $5 million in newly created bureaucratic jobs — many of which never existed in Chicago before — since June 2011 has been a secret, if it's discussed at all, for example. But the veil of secrecy over CPS discussions goes back to the first day Richard M. Daley became dictator of Chicago's public schools, July 1, 1995, and continues under Rahm Emanuel. Although the procedures is a clear violation of both the Illinois Freedom of Information Act and the Open Meetings Act, no one thinks that Attorney General Lisa Madigan is about to challenge the secrecy of CPS.

The City Hall publicity about the so-called "transparency" in city finances follows:


December 4, 2011


Mayor’s Press Office



Today the City of Chicago posted online all of the documents from the 2012 City Council Committee on Budget and Management public hearings, including the opening statements and presentations of individual departments' budget proposals.

“For the first time we are posting budget documents online in an easy to use format for the public,” said Mayor Emanuel. “This budget was not drawn up behind closed doors. We opened up the process so that the public can view the process we followed to get our finances back on track.”

The documents, organized by department, include the introductory statements and material presented to aldermen during each hearing, as well as the information departments provided to aldermen after the hearings in response to questions or requests that could not be immediately addressed. For ease of use, an index to those responses is also provided.

The City is posting this information in collaboration with the Inspector General’s Office as part of the Administration’s ongoing efforts to provide an unprecedented level of access to data and analysis to the public.

“Throughout the budgeting process the Mayor has remained committed to increasing the transparency of government,” said Budget Director Alex Holt. “We have to approach government and public service in a different way and come up with a different way of doing what we need to do to help our constituents.”

The documents are available here.

For the first time in the City’s history, a website was used to continue the conversation about the budget. received more than 2,500 ideas on the budget, and nearly 70,000 votes or comments on those ideas. Nearly 130 of the ideas submitted by Chicagoans are reflected in the 2012 budget plan. Additionally, Mayor Emanuel held two budget town halls this summer with over 1,000 people to discuss the budget directly with Chicagoans.

The City of Chicago’s data portal,, currently hosts 271 datasets with over 20 million rows of data. Since Mayor Emanuel took office on May 16, 2011, the portal has been viewed over 733,201 times and over 37 million rows of data have been accessed.


December 4, 2011 at 5:27 AM

By: Jeff Burdick

Rahm's PR gambits

Rahm is a master of PR distraction and spin. I think this humorous YouTube video nicely lampoons both. In it Rahm tries to shift the media conversation by celebrating Chicago Public Schools very own Derrick Rose, everyone's picture boy of public education success:

December 4, 2011 at 6:10 PM

By: Bessie Potter

Rahm's leaks and lies...

Rahm "leaker" Emanuel doesn't go after anyone face to face. He's a weasel...The leakers last hit job was Herman Cain — not unlike what he did with Jesse Jackson Jr. leaking his affair to Lynn Sweet...I hope he starts to remember the details of the Solyndra affair before he has to testify before Congress...Maybe he should study all the past emails he sent them...

December 5, 2011 at 7:54 AM

By: Bob Busch

Derrick Rose's Vocational Education

Mr Burdick’s video was brutal and funny as hell. It has been a long time since I laughed as hard. But on a serious note, Mr Rose should not have to take the rap for anything except the College entrance exam cheating.

Many people do not realize that at Simeon Career Academy sports can be a real vocational career option. When Simeon had it’s Homecoming pep rally, I used to cram tissue paper in my ears to soften the noise. That was the only time in my life that sound actually vibrated my bones. Sports is a religion at that school, and players can be treated like gods. Let’s not forget that the purpose of a vocational school is to prepare kids to work. Simeon prepared Mr.Rose to play basketball extremely well. And it is his career.

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