- Choose Chicago, the city’s taxpayer-subsidized tourism bureau, secretly gave its chief marketing officer a six-figure payout when he left after just two and a half years on the job, newly released records show.
Warren R. Wilkinson abruptly left the organization in July 2013. That was less than two months after Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed President Barack Obama’s former White House social secretary Desiree Rogers as chairman of the Choose Chicago board, replacing Bruce Rauner, who stepped down to run for governor.
"Taxpayer funded?" That means it has to answer questions brought by the taxpayers, right? Or at least, their elected representatives, right?
- Choose Chicago officials won’t disclose the amount of Wilkinson’s severance. They say that as a private, not-for-profit organization, Choose Chicago doesn’t have to explain how it spends its $32 million budget, even though 87 percent of its money comes from taxpayers.
Oh, well pardon us for asking then. At least there is some oversight? Someone watching how the money is spent?
- Like some other not-for-profit Chicago agencies funded by taxpayers, Choose Chicago won’t divulge how it spends its money — a position that Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has upheld.
- Choose Chicago is overseen by an unpaid board that includes Desiree Rogers, chief executive officer of Johnson Publishing Co; Chicago Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts; Gibson’s restaurants partner John Colletti; Teamsters Local 727 boss John T. Coli; Chicago Federation of Labor president Jorge Ramirez, and former Emanuel chief of staff Theresa Mintle, a cousin of former Mayor Richard M. Daley. Mintle is president and chief executive officer of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported last fall that Choose Chicago’s contractors included a consultant who’s a friend of Emanuel, as well as lobbying firms with ties to Daley and House Speaker Michael J. Madigan.
And suddenly, all becomes clear. Now we just need a list the political contributions made by individuals connected to this "tourism bureau" and to whom the contributions landed and we'll all have a much clearer picture of what's going on here.