Thursday, June 19, 2014

Why Can't The Indianapolis Star Report Like This?

It seems like there is hardly a week that goes by that either the Chicago Tribune or the Sun-Times doesn't have at least one investigative story about political clout, pay-to-play or some other form of political cronyism taking place in Chicago and Illinois politics. Occasionally, they find something really "Golden" that takes out a governor, an alderman or state lawmaker. The Tribune's Jeff Coen, who first reported on the FBI wiretapped conversations that led to the impeachment and ultimate conviction of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich on political corruption charges, managed to get his anger management problem under control (he was arrested last month for kicking out a window on a CTA train) to write another investigative story on Mayor Rahm Emanuel that is pretty much standard fare at the Tribune.

When Emanuel took office as mayor, he signed an executive order that banned city contractors from contributing to the mayor's campaign committee. In Indianapolis, Mayor Greg Ballard relies on city contractors for about 90% of his campaign contributions, but you wouldn't know that from reading the Indianapolis Star where the former managing editor actually rejected in an opinion piece one time the notion that the concept of pay-to-play existed in Indianapolis. Not surprisingly, the Tribune has sought to hold Emanuel accountable for enforcing his executive order and asked how a major restaurateur that operates at O'Hare International Airport could skirt the executive order. Here's what Coen found:
In April, Mayor Rahm Emanuel stood in the newly remodeled Terminal 5 at O'Hare International Airport, unveiling the sparkling gateway as the newest evidence of Chicago's global status. The project developer predicted international fliers would generate big sales at the new shops and restaurants, thanks in part to the airport debut of famed local restaurant group Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises and its popular Chicago brands, including Wow Bao, Big Bowl and R.J. Grunts Burger and Fries. 
Just a month earlier, Emanuel himself was at a Lettuce Entertain You restaurant, records show, for a political fundraiser that earned him more than $26,000 from restaurant founder Richard Melman and his family. The money from the event at Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak and Stone Crab was part of more than $59,000 donated to the mayor's re-election fund in March by people and restaurants tied to Lettuce Entertain You. 
A campaign spokesman for Emanuel said the mayor's political operation asked for the fundraiser hosted by Lettuce Entertain You, which stands to reap profits from its preferential arrangement at the airport approved by Emanuel's administration. Both the campaign spokesman and a spokeswoman for the mayor's office said the circumstances did not violate the mayor's executive order banning city contractors from donating to him because Lettuce Entertain You is a licensee under its arrangement with the firm that has the city contract to run concessions at O'Hare. 
"We follow the law and the executive order," said Emanuel spokeswoman Kelley Quinn, who declined to answer detailed questions about why the mayor sought the fundraiser. "We believe that this situation holds true to both and does not violate the spirit of the executive order either." 
But the donations provide a fresh example of how the ethics rules Emanuel signed on his first day in office don't prevent him from raising millions of dollars in political cash from people who are beholden to his administration . . .
The story goes on to discuss stories the Tribune has done in the past about Emanuel soliciting large campaign contributions from businesses and individuals seeking to do business with the city and from real estate developers who need the city's blessing for their projects and bond lawyers who perform work on bond finance deals. Wouldn't it be nice if a reporter in this town could actually perform the kind of investigative journalism on how business is conducted at our city hall, which is every bit as corrupt, if not more corrupt, than Chicago's city hall? After all, virtually every major decision made by Mayor Ballard is linked to campaign contributions. Would someone at the Star actually study his campaign finance reports for a change?

4 comments:

Rick Smith said...

Thank God Carmel isn't so tainted!

Our reporters depend on access and it is denied if they don't toe the line.

Consequently, It's always Sunny in Carmel! Good Day Carmel!
https://www.facebook.com/GoodDayCarmel

C. Roger Csee said...

It's not on Gannett's agenda to actually report news.

Anonymous said...

Back when the Colts were "winning" rigged games to get to a Super Bowl to convince this town of morons to lay out cash for a needless new stadium, I used to watch the live blog that the stupid Star reporter would run during the game. The idiot may have been someone called "Phil B. Really stupid guy, in any case.

Every blog comment critical of the Colts was deleted. Comments noting phony flags, biased refs, ignored holding, mere breathing on Harrison being flagged to give Manning free 40 yards were all deleted. When people would then mock the Star for deleting critics, the Star dummy running the blog actually posted that it's the job of the Star and of everyone in the city to support the Colts to make Indianapolis look good. Oops. If that got out, I wonder what is said in staff meetings.

There is complete alignment of all moneyed interests in Indianapolis, as the elite think they need to present a unified front and act with a unified purpose to increase all their fortunes. This is corporate socialism, or fascism, as it's properly called.

The entire city of Indianapolis is a cartel, and the socialists in Indy like it that way. Indianapolis hates individualism, as an individual may not be trusted to work for the common purpose.

If you'll notice, every major economic player in Indianapolis is in a position to help every other major economic player, and none ever takes swipes at the others or compete too hard against the others.

Chicago does not have such an inferiority complex, so the reporting is more robust and less manufactured, and the range of economic activity is much broader.

Indianapolis is a fascistic experiment, perhaps the city in America most devoted to the experiment.

Anonymous said...

cBut Gary, Erika Smith had a hard hitting piece on how Portland, OR should be more like Indy! :)