Northwest Side Ald. Milly Santiago offered an apology of sorts Thursday, a day after she complained about the Cubs yanking their offer of face-value World Series tickets for aldermen. The 31st Ward politician who makes $116,208 per year described herself as “a poor alderman” who can’t afford scalped tickets and said the seats weren’t in a great spot in Wrigley Field anyway.
“I never intended to offend anybody, and if I did offend somebody I apologize,” Santiago said at City Hall. “When I said ‘poor alderman,’ I’m very grateful for my salary and my position. What I meant to say was, you know, compared to so many people, the scalpers and all these brokers, and all these people who have access to all these tickets to the highest price, of course I’m poor compared to them. Because my salary doesn’t make me rich.”
On Wednesday, Santiago was among several aldermen who spoke during city Inspector General Joseph Ferguson’s budget hearing about their aggravation at not getting the face value World Series seats at a time Cubs fans are paying thousands of dollars to get inside Wrigley Field to see this weekend’s games.
The Cubs pulled the ticket offer after the city Ethics Board ruled last week that to take them could violate a ban on elected officials accepting gifts worth more than $50 (the difference between face value and market value being thousands of dollars).
“I’m a loyal fan, and that was a moment I was waiting for along with millions of people,” Santiago said. “But I think, in a moment of passion and the excitement, I probably said the wrong thing. It came out bad, and I apologize for that.”
But Santiago noted the team offered the tickets to aldermen at face value for the division series and the National League Championship Series.
“The thing is, it was not unethical during the playoffs,” she said. “But now it became unethical for us to accept any others for the World Series games. But if the law is the law, and they’re willing to make changes, I have to go by it. I don’t have any problem obeying the regulations.” (John Byrne)
What’s on tap
*Mayor Rahm Emanuel will attend a college admissions fair at Malcolm X College.
*Gov. Bruce Rauner has no public events scheduled.
*Chicago City Council budget hearings: administrative hearings/water management/procurement services/law department.
*Cook County budget hearings: state’s attorney.
What we’re writing
*Rauner Republicans face challenges turning Madigan attacks into results at ballot box.
*Sacks, Pritzker, Eychaner fund anti-Rauner ads: The federal super political action committee running TV ads attempting to link controversial Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner has raised $5.7 million this month, federal campaign finance records show.
The super PAC is known as LIFT, an acronym for Leading Illinois For Tomorrow, and is headed by state Sen. Daniel Biss, an Evanston Democrat. It’s an attempt to counter Republican legislative ads backed by Rauner that try to link Democratic candidates to veteran Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan.
The disclosure of money from Oct. 1-20 shows the group’s largest donors include $2.5 million from Michael Sacks, a wealthy asset management CEO and confidant of Mayor Rahm Emanuel; $1 million from veteran Democratic megadonor Fred Eychaner; and $950,000 from longtime Democratic contributor J.B. Pritzker and the Jabodon PT Co. he co-founded.
In addition, unions have given more than $1 million. That includes $400,000 from the Construction & General Laborers District Council of Chicago, $250,000 from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, $200,000 from the Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers and $100,000 from the American Federation of Teachers Solidarity independent expenditure fund. The AFT is the umbrella organization for the Illinois Federation of Teachers, which includes the Chicago Teachers Union.
Unions through their Democratic allies and Rauner have been waging a fight over elements of what the Republican governor calls his “turnaround agenda,” which he’s made a requirement to reach a full-year budget agreement. It includes changes in state law that would scale back collective bargaining rights for public employees unions and prevailing union wage laws for private unions doing public works projects.
The federal filing showed that in the first 20 days of October, the group had spent $3.2 million primarily on advertising and had nearly $3 million available to spend in the closing days to the Nov. 8 election (Rick Pearson)
*Watchdog hits CPS lack of transparency: The Chicago Board of Education’s monthly meetings should be streamed live and board members should discuss and debate issues more openly, the nonpartisan Civic Federation says in a 13-page brief that chides the school system over a handful of transparency issues.
The Civic Federation notes in its report that the school board is the only one of the area’s major local governing bodies that “rarely discusses agenda items.” The board should “engage in public dialogue at hearings” to give the public a sense of what’s at stake, the report says. The watchdog group also says the district should better detail critical elements of its budget.
The meetings, usually held in the basement of CPS’ downtown headquarters, are recorded and eventually posted to the district website but are not carried live online. The meetings often feature emotional testimony from the public but generally don’t showcase much in the way of actual debate or discussion from schools officials.
Board members are briefed on each month’s agenda items behind closed doors prior to the meeting. When it does come time to vote, the school board halts the meeting and empties the gallery to carry out discussions that are closed to the public, before eventually re-emerging to carry out rapid-fire votes on the business of the day.
As of Thursday evening, video of the school board’s meeting a day earlier still wasn’t online. (Juan Perez Jr.)
*Strange bedfellows: The Regional Summit to Combat Heroin and Opioid Addiction is a gathering of local officials trying to fight the increase in heroin users and overdoses in the area over the past several years. But to hear Mayor Emanuel tell it, the group already has overcome a seemingly intractable problem: getting DuPage County Republicans and Chicago Democrats to set aside their mutual political enmity and join forces.
“The idea that Chicago’s mayor and the chairman of DuPage County would be working together, I think there’s a lot of people rolling over in their graves right about now,” Emanuel said as DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin and other county board members looked on from the crowd.
“But the other thing we also know, Dan and I know, is that the days of Chicago vs. everyone else, A, that’s an anachronism of another era, because we actually have to be partners in our economic growth,” said Emanuel, who has made a habit of getting suburban companies to relocate corporate headquarters downtown. “Not only our economic growth, our educational growth. But we also have to be partners in dealing with a challenge that both of us are experiencing in different ways.”
Notably, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle was not on hand Thursday. She sent a subordinate to talk at the summit. (John Byrne)
*City Council budget hearings lunch update: Day 9, helmed by 49th Ward Ald. Joe Moore and others featured various empanadas, carnitas, tacos, guacamole and pico de gallo.
*The Sunday Spin: On this week’s show, Chicago Tribune political reporter Rick Pearson’s guests include Amanda Vinicky of Illinois Public Radio and Kent Redfield, emeritus professor of political science at the University of Illinois at Springfield. The "Sunday Spin" airs from 7 to 9 a.m. on WGN 720-AM.
*City Hall’s Cubs magic number: The folks at City Hall have a countdown going for the number of wins left until the Cubs earn their first World Series in 108 years. Mayor Emanuel’s official Twitter account tweeted out an image of the banners hanging in the City Hall lobby. The magic number, of course, is down to three. (Bill Ruthhart)
Follow the money
*Track Illinois campaign contributions in real time here and here.
*End of the world as we know it? Clinton, Trump go nuclear.