Will the scandals and shady behavior of Chicago politicians never end? A whole host of Chicago business executives, educators and politicians will be making their way to Rome this week for the elevation of Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich to Cardinal. And while, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner and a host of other Chicago politicians will be paying their own way to Rome, according to CBS Chicago, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has decided to let the ultra secretive "World Business Chicago" cover his expenses.
World Business Chicago is a highly secretive agency that promotes Chicago commerce and industry. It reports directly to the mayor.
It is so secretive, CBS 2 cameras weren’t even allowed to visit its offices in the Page Building, next to the Chicago Theatre.
In 2015, WBC spent $8.7 million, mostly private money, but it also received $1.2 million in city taxes. Again, Emanuel says no public money is paying for his trip.
“There’s co-mingled money and you can’t really tell, so that’s something we should be concerned about,” 32nd Ward Ald. Scott Waguespack says.
WBC paid to host the Chicago visits of the Italian prime minister and London’s mayor. Emanuel says the Rome trip is a moment all Chicago should applaud.
“In a time where voices of intolerance are becoming accepted, we have a cardinal who speaks to tolerance,” Emanuel said.
While neither Emanuel nor World Business Chicago would discuss the details of the trip, they did confirm that Rahm will be traveling with an entourage of 14 people in total, all of whom have been covered.
WBC says they’re paying for a mayoral entourage of 14 in all. That includes the mayor, his wife, eight city officials, two high school students, and their two chaperones.
The organization did not offer information about the cost.
Given that the stated mission of World Business Chicago is to promote Chicago business and economic growth, it’s not entirely clear how a boondoggle to Rome advances those efforts.
As a public-private partnership between the City and the business community, WBC’s Board of Directors is composed of prominent leaders who guide the progression of Chicago’s business climate.
WBC is responsible for the implementation of Chicago’s Plan for Economic Growth and Jobs, a coordinated effort to assess and expand Chicago’s economy.
The Plan provides a set of goals, a framework for research and analysis, and as set of strategies which are currently being implemented to foster regional growth.
But, we're sure this is all above board and we should just trust Rahm. CBS should be ashamed of their efforts to "criminalize behavior that is normal."