Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett’s campaign spokesman was “very pleased” that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel would be stumping at a Barrett fundraiser in Milwaukee on March 28. Tickets are pricey, ranging from $400 to $2500. Rumors have circulated that this serves as a precursor to a Barrett repeat run for Governor against Scott Walker; as a White House/National Democratic Party choice candidate. A Barrett campaign spokesman flatly denies this scenario. A Rahm Emanuel staffer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Emanuel office has no comment – but would not deny this scenario. Should this prove true, what does it say about Barrett’s alignment with the likes of Rahm Emanuel, and his disconnect with the “Wisconsin Movement”, labor, and what has driven the recall? More importantly, why would Barrett even welcome an endorsement from Emanuel…the same Rahm Emanuel who led the sell-out of National Dems under Clinton to NAFTA? Under pressure from Emanuel, it is clear that President Obama shifted his mild opposition to NAFTA, pushing additional Pacific Rim free trade agreements.
As a Mayoral candidate, Rahm Emanuel slammed Scott Walker’s political methods on the last day of his campaign:
“We’re gonna deal with our fiscal issues by being honest with each other, straight forward and on a level of respect to work out the agreements that are necessary to put our fiscal house in order so our economy can grow,” he said.
The Emanuel Mayoral Record on governing speaks volumes regarding his “level of respect” toward labor, minorities, public employees, and the general population – more so than the “D” behind his name. From early on, Emanuel had every indication that privatization was a priority. He picked Lois Scott as Chicago’s Chief Financial Officer , president of the financial advisory firm Scott Balice Strategies. The firm is well-known nationally for its work on government privatization deals, including proposals to privatize parking facilities in Pittsburgh and Los Angeles that were later put on hold. The firm was also hired by the administration of convicted former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich to explore the possibility of leasing the state lottery.
In July, Emanuel issued layoff notices for 625 city employees from janitorial services to library services; clearing the way for newly privatized services and weakening union representation for city employees. Just days after these sweeping layoffs, Rahm named Mark Angelson his Deputy Mayor. Angelson introduced himself to Labor Leaders by saying there is a “new sheriff in town.” Angelson and Emanuel have refused to meet and negotiate with labor leaders regarding wage and benefit negotiations. After a meeting to discuss layoffs, Angelson refused to “…discuss the meeting with labor leaders as they left the headquarters of Local 399 of the International Union of Operating Engineers. ”
Rahm Emanuel continues to govern more in the Scott Walker manner than an Illinois Progressive, making himself virtually unavailable to the public, reserving his time for the wealthy and influential. The “World Business Chicago” group, chaired by the mayor, not only meets in secret, but has its own rules regarding FOIA and Open Records laws – this despite receiving millions of dollars from taxpayers every year.
Then comes the privatization. Emanuel is selling off the city resources at a breakneck pace, virtually unchecked, that must make Scott Walker green with envy. Recycling programs, City Health Programs, and Public Schools have been seriously impacted by privatizing – to the benefit of private donor-contracts, and to the detriment of public accountability and service to the general public.
As this is being written, an educational war is brewing in Chicago. Yesterday (February 22), the Chicago Public School Board (which is appointed by the mayor) voted to close or overhaul 17 public schools. Most of the schools serve poor and minority areas of the city, and most of those slated for “turnaround” will be done so by a private charter group. Through the appointed school board, Emanuel has declared war on the teachers union, and shown favor to private, non-union charters.
Emanuel is beholden to a slew of big money, big finance, high-powered donors – not the people of Chicago. His actions betray his party affiliation – unless he considers himself a Democrat historically linked to those of the Robber Baron Age. Regardless of party, Emanuel is no progressive – he is a corporatic.
This begs the question – the historical political alignment of Tom Barrett and Barack Obama, and therefore Rahm Emanuel is longstanding. The politics and policies of Barrett and Emanuel, the record shows, also have similarities. If Tom Barrett were to run for Governor, whose Governor would he be? His policies, which break similar to Emanuel’s; as well as Barrett’s campaign donors, do not bode well for Barrett as a progressive candidate reflective of the new Wisconsin Movement.
No less a conservative rag than the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute blog in a Mike Ford article reports on Barrett’s public school issues. While Jim Doyle was Governor, he and Barrett were pushing for the Milwaukee School Board to be mayor-appointed. In addition, Barrett has bowed to Milwaukee Corporate power brokers in his support for voucher schools; and his opposition to mandatory paid sick leave for city employees.
Barrett is also on board with the Greater Milwaukee Committee’s water privatization agenda, ran on consolidation and privatization as a candidate, and is heavily aligned with the national Democratic Party corporatic elite such as Rahm Emanuel. Should Barrett win re-election as Mayor of Milwaukee, he will have positioned himself with high name recognition for a second run against Scott Walker for Governor of Wisconsin. Whether this is pre-arranged by some behind-the-scenes dealings by the Obama White House, this is the continued nationalization of Wisconsin politics.
While Tom Barrett would be a far cry from Scott Walker, and a vast improvement, whose Governor would he be? After all, did he ever sign the recall petition? Kathleen Falk and Kathleen Vinehout did - very publicly and proudly. Obama and the National Party were absent from the outset of this movement. Their interjection now, when it is politically expedient, is questionable at best.
The selection of a candidate must be reflective of who and what this movement is about – and that is “We, the People” of Wisconsin.