Carol Felsenthal
On politics

Some Unanswered Questions in the Mayoral Debate

The City Club/Chicago Tribune-sponsored mayoral debate at the WGN studios Thursday was lively enough, but some of the more interesting exchanges happened afterwards, off camera, when each of the four participants took five minutes of questions from the press. I asked the first candidate up, Miguel del Valle, why he hadn’t…

Candidates at the debate
 

The City Club/Chicago Tribune-sponsored mayoral debate at the WGN studios Thursday was lively enough, but some of the more interesting exchanges happened afterwards, off camera, when each of the four participants took five minutes of questions from the press.

I asked the first candidate up, Miguel del Valle, why he hadn’t raised NAFTA during the debate. Del Valle used it to launch into an attack on Emanuel, a chief NAFTA strategist, for “blocking immigration reform in this country”—as well as for blocking a public option in the health care bill. I wondered why del Valle didn’t mention these items when the television cameras were on and the audience was larger than the 20 or so reporters questioning him.

When it was Rahm’s turn to take his five minutes, I asked him about President Obama calling him just after the Illinois Supreme Court overturned the appellate ruling, thus ending several days of what must have been exquisite misery. (Not surprisingly, Rahm looked exhausted and almost physically diminished.) I asked the candidate what Obama said to him, and if he was hoping for an endorsement from the president. The conversation was confidential, Emanuel replied, adding that the President “remains a friend of mine”—but ignoring the part about the endorsement.

When Gery Chico appeared, he seemed much more forceful than he did during the debate, blasting only the leading candidate, Rahm, for proposing what Chico called “the biggest tax expansion in history.” [Emanuel has proposed a sales tax rate cut for, as he put it, repeatedly and robotically, “mothers buying school supplies and backpacks for their kids.” He said he would fund it by taxing luxury services like limos and private jets.] Chico, however, expanded the list of those services to cover stuff that everyday working people use: haircuts, car washes, plumbers. He said, “You need a plumber, you’re going to pay the Rahm Tax; you need a haircut, you’re going to pay the Rahm Tax; you need child care services, you’re going to pay the Rahm tax.” That some of these were not on Emanuel’s list was rather confusing; presumably, Rahm’s camp will contest Chico’s attack, so expect to hear much more about the issue in the days to come.

Moving on from the “Rahm Tax,” I asked Chico who’s paying Burt Odelson, the lawyer who challenged Emanuel’s residency. Chico mumbled what sounded like, “I don’t even know who Burt Odelson is.”

I thought Carol Moseley Braun won the debate because she was so much more   articulate and charming than we’ve seen her so far. What didn’t ring right was her attempt, during the debate, to justify paying her property tax bills late five out of six times because she was shoring up her organic food company, Ambassador Organics. She presented herself as the future of the economic health of the city—a woman who started and nurtured a small business. She claimed never to have laid off an employee. As I drove home from the WGN-TV studios, I realized that I should have asked her how many people she employed. A look at her website provides a list of her board of directors. First on the list is her son, Matthew Braun, but there was no indication of the size of her company’s staff.

E-mails to her spokesman and her company’s public relations counsels were not returned by post time.

 

Photograph: Chicago Tribune

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4 years ago
Posted by helena

I know you're part of the "anybody but Rahm" crowd, but giving Carol Moseley Braun points because she's usually not as charming or articulate as she was during the debate doesn't seem right.

4 years ago
Posted by Alex Garcia

Braun apparently has less than five employees of Ambassador Organics, some of whom appear to be family members, etc. The company appears to be a sham and good luck in trying to pull any of its financials. It would have been nice if one of the other candidates challenged Braun when she accused them of profiting off of their public positions, but I think that the other three are content to just let her blather on. What was left unsaid is that's really all Braun herself has ever done, i.e. milked pensions off of her positions. Now that her "business" is failing, she needs another gig to pay off the four mortgages on her home, which she is trying to unload. If this whole election thing doesn't work out, she'll probably get to keep any of the modest contributions that she's garnered.

4 years ago
Posted by Bro. Clay

I believe that Ms. Braun won because she actually provided solutions to our city's problems, without the establishment of absurb taxes. She can speak about her years of government experience, and inclusion of all people and their needs as a legislator. Her company has suffered as most have in these tuff economic times. Regardless of her staff size (I refuse to make assumptions as Alex has), she has done what is necessary to assure her employees a means to continue to feed their families. Whatever her pensions may be, they were earned, just as every pol before her. It would be nice to see people employ a standard of criticism that is based historical fact, than to toss fictional theories toward Ms. Brauns candidacy.

It may be time enough for people to research the candidates histories, than to continue to make assumptions based on local news reports. Ms. Braun has experience in all levels of government,is a champion of civil, human, and womens rights, and has the best legislative record amongst all the candidates(who have one). Chicago deserves the most experienced candidate, and one who is able to unite, and serve all citizens of Chicago. One that is tested, and proven. That candidate is Carol Moseley Braun.

4 years ago
Posted by Ardvark

Brother Clay: Spoken like a true campaign staffer of Carol Mostly Wrong. Actually, spoken like all three of them.

BTW, "tuff" is actually spelled "tough" and the only thing that Carol Mostly Fraud has proven is that she loves the bright lights and the fact that she gets to keep the campaign money after it's all said and done. That should help sure pay down those mortgages!

4 years ago
Posted by EllenBrown

I support Carol Moseley Braun because she has the courage to stand up for what is right rather than compromise. For example while Rahm was busy compromising away lgbt rights Senator Braun was voting against DOMA? While Senator/Ambassador/State Rep. Carol Moseley Braun was fighting for equal rights and reproductive rights, Rahm was busy taking abortion out of the health care plan.

Neither Chico or Devalle have a record on these issues. Only promises. So if you care civil rights and women's rights your only choice is Carol Moseley Braun.

4 years ago
Posted by Bro. Clay

Thanks for the spell check, ardvark. Pol, is also short for politician.

You like most of Ms. Brauns critics base your comments on your own personal bias, and no actual facts.

3 years ago
Posted by Bill J.

Actual Fact: Braun committed Medicare fraud in the '90s.

Actual Fact: Braun's one term in the Senate was riddled with scandal (e.g. Nigeria trip), which resulted in Democrats voting for her REPUBLICAN opponent during her reelection attempt.

Actual Fact: Bill Clinton effectively banished her to New Zealand so that she would simply go away, not exactly a premiere posting for an Ambassador.

Actual Fact: When she left that post, she promised to not enter politics again and instead spend her days "wearing hot pants".

Actual Fact: She then ran for President of all things. of course, she didn't make it past the Iowa primary, but guess what? She got to keep the campaign donations she received.

Actual Fact: She has basically been invisible for the past 13 years, aside from the aforementioned presidential "run" and for operating a small "business" that hasn't turned a dime and "employs" less than a handful of people.

Actual Fact: Braun has four mortgages on her home. FOUR mortgages. Money is running short and she badly needs this mayoral campaign because she's at the end of her rope, both professionally and personally. In fact, she's been trying to unload her Hyde Park mansion because she has been living beyond her means. Amazing, given that she considers to earn pensions from her various past public sector jobs.

Actual Fact: Braun is not fit to hold another public office. EVER. I say this as someone who made the mistake of voting for her in the '90s.

3 years ago
Posted by WestLoopSteve

While I have misgivings about all of the candidates, Carol Braun is the only one where I say "God Help Us All" if she's elected. Miguel del Valle impresses me as the most sincere, but I'm not sure he can handle the job. It's therefore up to Rahm or Chico in my mind, with the likely edge to Emanuel. That's mainly because of Chico's ties to Ed Burke. So, sure, Emanuel is sort of creepy in his own kind of way, but at least he'd be a strong mayor and probably effective for the most part. Chicago's the type of place where you need a strong mayor and if he's connected to national and local power-brokers, so be it.

3 years ago
Posted by Chuck_Y

Rahm dodges another debate. The strategy of, I'm in the lead, I'll let my money talk for me, doesn't sit well with me. Rahm has too much to lose by actually talking unscripted.

I wonder how much got paid to the Sun-Times for them to support Rahm. I always thought newspapers were supposed to print the news not make the news. The media for this election has been hugely biased toward moneybags Rahm.

Come on Chicago voters, can anyone see the corruption connection here? Vote for CHICO the best candidate!

3 years ago
Posted by Chuck_Y

Rahm dodges another debate. The strategy of, I'm in the lead, I'll let my money talk for me, doesn't sit well with me. Rahm has too much to lose by actually talking unscripted.

I wonder how much got paid to the Sun-Times for them to support Rahm. I always thought newspapers were supposed to print the news not make the news. The media for this election has been hugely biased toward moneybags Rahm.

Come on Chicago voters, can anyone see the corruption connection here? Vote for CHICO the best candidate!

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