Rahm re­ly­ing on ex­tended group to help guide se­cond term

Chicago Sun-Times - - FRONT PAGE - BY FRAN SPIEL­MAN City Hall Reporter Email: fspiel­man@sun­times.com Twit­ter: @ fspiel­man

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has long main­tained that he doesn’t have just one in­ner cir­cle but a bunch of them on is­sues per­tain­ing to busi­ness, la­bor, pol­i­tics and eth­nic is­sues.

It’s a good thing Emanuel is not re­ly­ing solely on the team that sur­rounds him at City Hall as he strug­gles to re­gain his political foot­ing af­ter the po­lice shoot­ing of Laquan McDon­ald. That sup­port­ing cast has changed dra­mat­i­cally.

Two months af­ter re­plac­ing Lisa Schrader as Emanuel’s chief of staff, For­rest Clay­pool was dis­patched to the Chicago Pub­lic Schools to clean up a con­tract­ing scan­dal that swal­lowed Schools CEO Bar­bara ByrdBen­nett and straighten out a fi­nan­cial mess that has the sys­tem on the brink of bank­ruptcy and an­other teach­ers strike.

Garry McCarthy, who spent nearly five years tak­ing the heat off Emanuel on crime is­sues, was fired on Dec. 1 af­ter the mayor ac­cused his only po­lice su­per­in­ten­dent of be­com­ing a “dis­trac­tion” in the con­tin­u­ing fall­out from the video played around the world of a white po­lice of­fi­cer pump­ing six­teen rounds into the body of a black teenager.

With­out McCarthy, Emanuel alone wears the jacket for the trou­bling rise in homi­cides and shoot­ings and for a pre­cip­i­tous de­cline in pro- ac­tive polic­ing trig­gered by the McDon­ald shoot­ing video and a fed­eral civil rights in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the Chicago Po­lice Depart­ment.

As dif­fi­cult as that tran­si­tion has been, the re­cent de­par­ture of se­nior ad­viser David Spielfo­gel will be an even big­ger ad­just­ment for Chicago’s po­lit­i­cally weak­ened mayor.

Spielfo­gel had de­vel­oped such a re­mark­able con­nec­tion with the mayor, staffers who needed to know Emanuel’s thoughts and po­si­tions used Spielfo­gel as a sur­ro­gate. He was equal parts pol­icy wonk, strate­gist, al­ter- ego and may­oral hand­holder. He played a role in or had knowl­edge of vir­tu­ally ev­ery­thing go­ing on at City Hall.

With­out him, there’s a power vac­uum at a time when the mayor is swamped by pen­sion, polic­ing and school fund­ing crises. Spec­u­la­tion abounds that Cor­po­ra­tion Coun­sel Stephen Pat­ton could be next through the re­volv­ing door.

Who, then, are the key play­ers who will guide Rahm Emanuel through a se­cond term?

Mike Ren­d­ina, di­rec­tor of in­ter­gov­ern­men­tal affairs

It won’t be easy to fill Spielfo­gel’s shoes or repli­cate his chem­istry with Emanuel, but Ren­d­ina is about to give it a try. A for­mer di­rec­tor of in­ter­gov­ern­men­tal affairs at the Chicago Pub­lic Schools who man­aged Alexi Gian­nou­lias’ failed 2010 U. S. Se­nate cam­paign, Ren­d­ina was part of the ne­go­ti­at­ing team that ham­mered out a new four- year con­tract re­jected by the Chicago Teach­ers Union’s 40- per­son bar­gain­ing unit. As if teacher ne­go­ti­a­tions weren’t enough of a headache, Chicago al­der­men have been push­ing back, mak­ing Ren­d­ina’s job of de­liv­er­ing votes more dif­fi­cult and forc­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tion to com­pro­mise a lot more than it used to.

Ca­role Brown, chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer

For­mer CTA board chair­woman who took the reins from Lois Scott one week af­ter the state Supreme Court’s de­ci­sion over­turn­ing state pen­sion re­forms placed Emanuel’s plan to re­form two of four city em­ployee pen­sion funds in sim­i­lar jeop­ardy. Wall Street didn’t wait for a rul­ing on the Chicago re­form be­fore drop­ping the city’s bond rat­ing to junk sta­tus. Banks had the abil­ity to call back $ 2.2 bil­lion in city debt. It was Brown’s job to ne­go­ti­ate with banks and call off the wolves. She has done that while me­thod­i­cally ex­e­cut­ing Emanuel’s debt re­struc­tur­ing plan. But it has cost Chicago tax­pay-

ers hun­dreds of mil­lions in penal­ties and higher in­ter­est rates.

Eileen Mitchell, chief of staff

Trusted may­oral con­fi­dant Clay­pool was sup­posed to be Emanuel’s se­cond- term chief of staff, just as Clay­pool had twice served Mayor Richard M. Da­ley in that thank­less job. But when the con­tract kick­back scan­dal cul­mi­nated in a guilty plea by Byrd-Ben­nett, Emanuel de­cided he needed Clay­pool more at CPS. En­ter Eileen Mitchell, a for­mer top aide to House Speaker Michael Madi­gan, D- Chicago, turned AT& T Illinois ex­ec­u­tive. It was a not- so- sub­tle mes­sage to Gov. Bruce Rauner that his ef­forts to drive a wedge be­tween the mayor and the speaker were go­ing nowhere. With Bud­get Di­rec­tor AlexHolt at her side and Schrader of­fer­ing part- time con­sult­ing help, Mitchell helped fi­nal­ize a tax- laden 2016 bud­get that in­cluded a $ 588 mil­lion prop­erty- tax in­crease for po­lice and fire pen­sions and a first- ever garbage col­lec­tion fee. The ques­tion is, does she have the rap­port with Emanuel to do that and the per­son­al­ity to lead a dispir­ited staff?

Janey Roun­tree, pub­lic safety li­ai­son

The one- time aide to for­mer New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg pulled to­gether the mayor’s task force on po­lice ac­count­abil­ity af­ter the McDon­ald shoot­ing vide­owas re­leased, and she dealt di­rectly with a rather ornery and de­fen­sive McCarthy be­fore Emanuel fired the po­lice su­per­in­ten­dent. As spe­cial coun­sel and firearms pol­icy co­or­di­na­tor un­der Bloomberg and chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer for the Bloomberg- founded “May­ors Against Il­le­gal Guns,” Roun­tree crossed paths with the U. S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice. Sources said Roun­tree used those con­tacts to help Chicago brace for the pro­tracted and costly fed­eral civil rights in­ves­ti­ga­tion that’s likely to cul­mi­nate in the ap­point­ment of a fed­eral mon­i­tor sim­i­lar to the one that rode herd over city hir­ing for a decade.

Joe Fer­gu­son, in­spec­tor gen­eral

What a turn­around for a man who spent the first two years in a cold war with Emanuel that in­cluded a le­gal bat­tle over ac­cess to doc­u­ments that went all the way to the state Supreme Court. Their re­la­tion­ship was so frosty, it ap­peared Emanuel was count­ing the days un­til Fer­gu­son’s term ex­pired. It was only af­ter the Ohio bribery scan­dal, which cul­mi­nated in the con­vic­tion of for­mer City Comptroller Amer Ah­mad, that Emanuel seemed to re­al­ize Fer­gu­son was more help­ful than threat­en­ing. In 2013, Emanuel re- ap­pointed Fer­gu­son with the un­writ­ten un­der­stand­ing that the IG would step down af­ter a year. Eight months later, Fer­gu­son de­cided to serve out his new four- year term af­ter dra­mat­i­cally im­prov­ing his once- con­tentious re­la­tion­ship with the mayor. When a fed­eral judge re­leased Chicago from the Shak­man de­cree and dis­missed a fed­eral hir­ing mon­i­tor, Fer­gu­son as­sumed the all- im­por­tant power to po­lice city hir­ing in the post- Shak­man era.

Ginger Evans, avi­a­tion com­mis­sioner

Whip smart and tough as nails, Evans is front and cen­ter in Emanuel’s push to fi­nally de­liver the longstalled plan to build an ex­press train be­tween down­town and O’Hare Air­port. If she can per­suade pri­vate in­vestors to bankroll con­struc­tion and busi­ness trav­el­ers to pay as much as $ 30 to ride it, she will have pulled off a ma­jor coup. Al­ready, the for­mer Wash­ing­ton, D. C., air­port of­fi­cial has helped Emanuel ham­mer out a deal with ma­jor air­lines to build the fi­nal run­way at O’Hare while Amer­i­can Air­lines has agreed to add five gates. Evans also is pre­sid­ing over the mayor’s $ 248 mil­lion plan to con­front Mid­way Air­port’s big­gest weak­nesses and pas­sen­ger an­noy­ances: park­ing, se­cu­rity and con­ces­sions.

David Reif­man, plan­ning and de­vel­op­ment com­mis­sioner

Emanuel raised con­flict of in­ter­est con­cerns by hir­ing this at­tor­ney who had ad­vised the Cubs on the mas­sive Wrigley Field ren­o­va­tion pro­ject and coun­seled many other clout- heavy clients whose projects have al­tered the Chicago sky­line. But the mayor knew he needed an ex­pert on zon­ing, land- use plan­ning, his­toric preser­va­tion and tax- in­cre­ment fi­nanc­ing if he hoped to counter the charge lev­eled against him dur­ing the may­oral cam­paign that his de­vel­op­ment ef­forts are down­town- cen­tric, leav­ing im­pov­er­ished neigh­bor­hoods be­hind.

Lori Light­foot, Po­lice Board pres­i­dent, co- chair­woman of Task Force on Po­lice Ac­count­abil­ity

Her ap­point­ment to both po­lice jobs stirred con­tro­versy be­cause she once ran the Chicago Po­lice Depart­ment’s Of­fice of Pro­fes­sional Stan­dards. But what crit­ics failed to ap­pre­ci­ate is there’s a rea­son why Light­foot, a for­mer fed­eral pros­e­cu­tor, was a run­ner- up of the U. S. at­tor­ney’s job that went to Zach Far­don. She’s fiercely in­de­pen­dent and showed it in 2005while join­ing Mary Dempsey in clean­ing up Da­ley’s Depart­ment of Pro­cure­ment Ser­vices af­ter the Hired Truck and mi­nor­ity con­tract­ing scan­dals. Light­foot sure has amassed a lot of clout for a per­son who barely knew the mayor be­fore her Po­lice Board ap­point­ment. Not only is she con­duct­ing the na­tion­wide search for McCarthy’s suc­ces­sor, she is try­ing to re­store pub­lic con­fi­dence in a Po­lice Board with a trou­bled his­tory of re­vers­ing the su­per­in­ten­dent rec­om­men­da­tions to fire way­ward of­fi­cers. Light­foot was even talked about as a pos­si­ble re­place­ment for McCarthy be­fore slam­ming the door on that pos­si­bil­ity.

Steve Koch

The for­mer in­vest­ment banker is at the cen­ter of Emanuel’s ef­forts to lure sub­ur­ban com­pa­nies to move their cor­po­rate head­quar­ters to the city to ap­peal to a work­force of mil­len­ni­als who love city nightlife and can’t stand the long com­mute. He played a key role in rene­go­ti­at­ing the deal that ini­tially used $ 55 mil­lion in tax- in­cre­ment fi­nanc­ing to help fi­nance a 10,000- seat bas­ket­ball arena for DePaul Univer­sity that will dou­ble as an event cen­ter for McCormick Place. When crit­ics called the pro­ject a sym­bol of Emanuel’s mis­placed pri­or­i­ties, Koch helped rear­range the fi­nanc­ing so the TIF sub­sidy would be used to ac­quire land for the pro­ject and sur­round­ing ho­tels, in­stead of to build the sta­dium.

Stephen Pat­ton

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