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As Mayor Rahm Emanuel Steps Down, Several Of His Appointees Plan To Stay

SHARE As Mayor Rahm Emanuel Steps Down, Several Of His Appointees Plan To Stay
A Chicago Park District sign stands in Jackson Park on May 12, 2015.

A Chicago Park District sign stands in Jackson Park on May 12, 2015.

AP Photo/Paul Beaty

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel leaves office in May, but several key agency heads he appointed could stay on. By signing so-called “golden parachute” contracts with these officials, the mayor guaranteed them a salary for a set period of time. That means that if the next mayor decides to replace them, taxpayers will still foot the bill for their salaries.

“Golden parachute” recipients include City Colleges of Chicago Chancellor Juan Salgado, whose contract is valid through 2020, and Park District superintendent Michael P. Kelly, who will be paid until the end of 2022.

Sun-Times reporter Lauren FitzPatrick reported on this story. She talked to WBEZ's Odette Yousef. 

Park District superintendent Michael P. Kelly’s contract lasts another four years

Lauren FitzPatrick: Mr. Kelly was appointed by the mayor way back in 2011 when the mayor took office — shortly after. But he didn’t get a deal until just this December. So a few months after Rahm Emanuel said he would not seek a third term, all of a sudden Mike Kelly was offered a four-year contract with a nice little sweetener: That if he were terminated without cause, when he hadn’t done anything wrong, that he would get to keep a whole bunch of the pay and benefits that he now enjoys as head of the Park District….

Could the new mayor replace officials with ‘golden parachutes’?

FitzPatrick: A lot of these folks already did have some kind of contract in place from around the time they started working in the first place, but it’s the Kelly one over at the parks that really ties the new mayor’s hands the most, because it just took effect, and it’s the one that lasts the longest. Now, of course, it’s not like the new mayor’s hands are actually tied because there’s a really easy way to make all of these folks step down and bring in whoever the new mayor would like to have. But it’s just — you and I get to pay for it. Chicago taxpayers would then be on the hook for basically paying these folks to go away.

Odette Yousef: And all told, how much money would that be?

FitzPatrick: So if the new mayor, whoever she may be, decides to make a clean sweep, we’re talking about $823,000 ….And, you know, there are folks who would say, “Well, [Chicago Public Schools] has a $6 billion budget, so paying [CPS CEO] Dr. [Janice] Jackson $130,000 in salary plus a bunch of health insurance is hardly going to break that budget. I mean, it’s a drop in the bucket in the big scheme of things.” Except, you know, $130,000 is a teacher. It’s two special education aides. I mean, we could count up how many air conditioners could be installed inside of schools for that kind of money. And then, what that number is not counting is the cost of all the insurance, plus, now, the salaries of the people who are going to come in and then take these jobs. So $820,000 just for folks to walk out the door.

GUEST: Lauren FitzPatrick, reporter, Chicago Sun-Times

LEARN MORE: Rahm’s agency heads could outlast him thanks to golden parachute contracts (Chicago Sun-Times 2/18/19)

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