Former Mayor Richard Daley popped up to give a tour of Millennium Park Monday, but did not address why more than a dozen companies subsidized by city taxpayers were required to give more than $900,000 to the charity founded and led by his wife.
Instead, in his first public comments on the issue, Daley made the issue personal, characterizing Inspector General Joseph Ferguson’s review of After School Matters as “disgraceful” and “a personal insult” to Maggie Daley.
Daley’s remarks came in a brief exchange recorded by WBBM Newsradio outside a tour of Millennium Park that was part of Chicago Ideas Week but shut to the media. Attempts to get follow-up questions answered through a spokeswoman were not successful.
Last week, Ferguson’s review of public-benefits clauses in city tax-increment finance district agreements determined 16 companies were required to give to After School Matters. No other private, non-profit group got as many, the report stated.
Just how the charity was chosen and who chose it was not clear, according to the report. But only one of the officials from nine companies who were interviewed said the company itself chose the charity. The rest were “unilaterally chosen” by the city, the report stated.
“Neither Mr. Daley’s wife nor After School Matters were at issue,” Ferguson responded in a prepared statement after being told of Daley’s remarks Monday. “Moreover, no allegations of any sort were made.
“Instead, the report lays bare the simple fact of a near total absence of transparency, accountability, or ownership in the city’s process for leveraging TIF subsidies to the benefit private not-for-profits.”
Although the reviewers who prepared the report talked to the company representatives and several city officials, one of whom was tasked to work for After School Matters, Daley offered a different take. “No one — no one — talked to anyone,” he said. “A disgraceful thing they did.”
Daley went on to call the report “a personal insult to my wife,” though her name is not in the report and Ferguson has been careful to say he was not criticizing her work.
Daley’s comments echoed those put out by After School Matters the day the report was released. The organization called the report “an insult to the work that former first lady Maggie Daley continues to do for the youth of this city.”
The report recommended that new Mayor Rahm Emanuel eliminate public-benefits clauses. If not, the city should set up a transparent process for picking which private, non-profit agencies get funding, it concluded.
“In the absence of established guidelines for public benefits clauses, the frequent selection of After School Matters . . . creates the appearance of preferential treatment with close ties to the city,” the report stated.
Emanuel said last week he was looking at ways to revise the public-benefits clauses, but he declined specifics as he repeatedly touted the benefits of After School Matters. Emanuel once sat on its board, and his wife, Amy Rule, holds a seat on it today.
Not only is the board a who’s who of Chicago people of influence, it also employs folks who were longtime loyal employees of the former mayor. Raymond Orozco, Daley’s former chief of staff, recently was named CEO of the charity.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times