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Election 2015 Mon Mar 30 2015

Fioretti's Bewildering Endorsement

Ald. Bob Fioretti made the decision late Saturday night to endorse Mayor Rahm Emanuel in the runoff instead of Jesus "Chuy" Garcia.

Let me rephrase that in case you think I made something up to mess with you. Ald. Bob Fioretti is endorsing Rahm Emanuel for mayor.

This will come as a surprise to anyone who has paid the slightest attention to the mayoral campaign, let alone what has gone on in city council for the last four years. As a member of the progressive caucus Fioretti has been one of the harshest critics of the mayor. He has criticized Emanuel on his policies regarding TIFs, mental health clinics and the Chicago Public Schools. When I interviewed Fioretti about his plan for TIF reform he said this:

The TIF imbalance has created the fiscal mess we have. If money had been directed to the proper entities we wouldn't be having the pension crisis, we wouldn't be having -- well, before I say that, we may still be having some of it, but not to the concern that we see. For many years it was over half a billion dollars that went in to the slush fund. There are different economic tools that we can use to bring businesses here, to put people to work so we can have safe streets and strong neighborhoods.

Why on earth is he choosing to endorse the mayor over Garcia, whose policies are more in line with his?

The official reason given for why Fioretti is endorsing Rahm is he feels he is the best person to handle Chicago's financial mess. The problem with this reasoning is there is plenty of evidence to suggest the city's finances have worsened under Emanuel since the current administration has borrowed in order to handle the debt left behind.

There is also the fact that a lot of the policies Fioretti has criticized, such as closing mental health clinics and schools, have been done in an attempt to save funds. While he may say he is backing the candidate most likely to handle the financial problems facing the city, he is also saying, by endorsing the mayor, he is backing the same policies creating a chasm-like division between the wealthy and upper-middle class and low-income families in Chicago.

There has been some speculation this is the result of the mayor being willing to help retire the campaign debt accrued by the alderman, which the mayor is willing to help out with. According to ABC 7--and pointed out by Chicagoist in their post on the endorsement--a former Fioretti advisor reported a paycheck bouncing. Mary Ann Ahern of NBC 5 has reported on Twitter that SEIU said Fioretti had asked them to help out with his campaign debt, but they turned him down. There is also a history of the mayor retiring former opponents' campaign debts as he did that with Carol Mosely Braun and Gary Chico in 2011.

Ultimately though the endorsement reeks of "sour grapes." Fioretti was passed over by many unions and progressives in favor of Garcia. Almost instantly after Garcia announced his candidacy he received endorsements from top unions such as the Chicago Teachers Union, even though Fioretti had been in favor of an elected school board and opposed to the school closings in 2013. Even though Fioretti said he would endorse "anyone but Rahm" back in February, he has clearly changed his mind. To many this comes off as him being a sore loser, but at best it seems like cynical Chicago politics.

At the very least, Fioretti has endorsed a candidate with union endorsements. UNITE HERE has endorsed Emanuel, making a prominent appearance at the election night event on February 24 for the mayor as well as appearing in a series of ads where members declare their "Rahm Love." Clearly, Fioretti was feeling the "Rahm Love" as well.

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Stan Hollenbeck / March 31, 2015 9:10 AM

As I have posted many times in the last few days, Alderman Bob Fioretti made a courageous and principled endorsement of his arch-nemesis after almost a decade of bitter criticism. He has put Chicago first before his personal and political animus for suburbanite Rahm's foibles in education (chronic testing) and automation (red-light cameras). I applaud his decision.

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