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Mike Klonsky comments on the latest scandal in Chicago, where ex-CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett pleaded guilty in a scheme to take a kickback from a no-bid contract.
Klonsky says Mayor Rahm Emanuel hand-picked Byrd-Bennett. The Mayor hand-picked the school board. No one question the $23 million contract to SUPES, which had a s secret deal with the CEO.
“My take is that the SUPES scandal goes way beyond BBB and her crew. Mayoral control of the schools has created a culture of corruption that goes all the way up to the top of the system. Turning CPS into a wing of City Hall — one of the most disreputable institutions in history — with an autocratic mayor in charge, was a mistake for which we all now will pay a tremendous price.
This is familiar to those of us who live in Néw York City. The board of education approved hundreds of millions on no-bid contracts during the Bloomberg years. The mayor-controlled board supinely approved each one, never challenging them (8 of 13 members were appointed by the mayor). The only dissident voice was Patrick Sullivan, appointed not by the mayor but by the Manhattan borough president Scott Stringer. Other than Sullivan, the board went along to please the mayor, no questions asked.
Democracy implies the need for checks and balances, transparency and accountability.