Emanuel expands on his calls for an independent probe of Lollapalooza contract

August 18, 2011

Editor's Note:  Jim DeRogatis is on vacation

Even though DeRo's away, the latest Lollapalooza developments haven't gone unnoticed on Pop-n-Stuff

In case you haven't been following along, after months of refusing to answer DeRo's questions about the nature of the city's financial arrangement with the mega-music fest Lollapalooza, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is speaking out.

On Wednesday, he made his most extensive public comments yet about his desire to have an independent investigator re-open talks with Lollapalooza, with an eye toward reviewing the current deal and its tax-exempt status.

Emanuel addressed the issue during a live webcast with the Better Government Association's Andy Shaw.

As first reported here on DeRo's blog, Lollapalooza contracts not with the Chicago Park District for its annual Grant Park festival, but with its non-profit offshoot, the Parkways Foundation. As such, Lolla was able to secure a tax-exemption, enabling it to save at least $1 million each year it would otherwise have to pay to public coffers. Mark Vanecko, the nephew of former Mayor Richard M. Daley, negotiated the deal on behalf of Lollapalooza. 

But those aren't the only family connections to the deal.  The co-owner of Lollapalooza is William Morris Endeavor, which is led by Hollywood super-agent and mayoral brother Ari Emanuel. 

As a result, Mayor Emanuel says the best way to review the deal is to appoint an outside party to do so.

"First of all, I didn't come here [to the Mayor's office] so any member of my family could make money," he told Shaw. "So what I said in the campaign, which I think is the appropriate thing, [is that] I want this [to be] totally independent. I want either the Park District or the City Council to set up a third party to deal with it.  I don't want to be near it."

Back in February, campaign communications director Ben LaBolt told DeRo that Emanuel would handle the matter this way.

“Because, given his brother’s position at WME and on the board of Live Nation, Rahm would ask the City Council to appoint an outside negotiator to handle any negotiations with these companies so that there wasn’t even a question of favoritism,” LaBolt said at the time.

And Emanuel himself made similar statements to the Chicago Sun-Times' earlier this week.

During the BGA interview on Wednesday, Emanuel said that while the move to appoint an outside investigator could come from either the City Council or the Park District, they should be the ones to initiate the action, not him.  Noting that he also has the power to appoint people to the Park District board, Emanuel pledged to remain at arms length and to let the chips fall where they may.

"Look, nothing would make me happier than to make Ari pay more money since he had the top bunk growing up," he told Shaw.

Here's the full audio of the exchange with the BGA:

 

Earlier reporting in this blog about Lollapalooza’s deal:

Aug. 1, 2011: Does Lollapalooza $hort Chicago?

July 13, 2011: Lollapalooza: 'No concerns' about Eminem's hate

April 7, 2011: Two key differences between the mega-fests, Dave Matthews Caravan vs. Lollapalooza

Feb. 24, 2011: Dear Rahm: How to quell fears about your ties to Ticketmaster/Live Nation and Lollapalooza and fix relations with the Chicago music scene

Feb. 21, 2011: Tomorrow we vote, but still no answers from Rahm on his cozy ties to Ticketmaster/Live Nation and Lollapalooza

Feb. 7, 2011: Rahm Emanuel pledges hands off all dealings with Ticketmaster/Live Nation and Lollapalooza

Feb. 4, 2011: Rahm Emanuel: Pal$ with thuggish concert giants Ticketmaster/Live Nation and Lollapalooza

Nov. 19, 2010: Lollapalooza goes South

Oct. 19, 2010: Crain's Agrees: Lollapalooza tax deal warrants scrutiny

Oct. 6, 2010: A second look at my Lollapalooza tax math

Oct. 5, 2010: Does Austin get a crappy deal from Lollapalooza's "little sister"?

Oct. 4, 2010: Is Chicago earning all that it should from Lollapalooza?

July 13, 2010: Lollapalooza, liquor sales, and the links to the mayor's nephew

June 29, 2010: What's behind the Attorney General's investigation of Lollapalooza?

June 24, 2010: Illinois Attorney General investigating Lollapalooza for anti-trust