Bill de Blasio was swept to the New York mayoralty on the promise of getting Gracie Mansion out from under the thumb of corporate elites. So how worried should you be that he listened to Chicago’s Rahm Emanuel and is now getting advice on his transition from Emanuel’s corporate consultants.
The story first broke three weeks ago in the web publication Capital New York. “De Blasio’s Shadow Transition” cited an unnamed source (I know who the source is, and can vouch for his trustworthiness) who said that following a November meeting between de Blasio and Emanuel, the nonprofit group Civic Consulting USA “has ‘embedded’ into the process a team drawn up from the ‘creme de la creme of big New York consultants.’ This group has shaped the process by organizing the original transition team into a number of topic-specific committees and then bringing in an even greater number of other people onto those committees to participate in the search for future administration members.” Civic Consulting USA is an offshoot of a Chicago group, the Civic Consulting Alliance, which provides opportunities for corporate executives to do pro bono work on municipal affairs. And in Chicago, where CCA was also instrumental in staffing Emanuel’s transition, their record has been creepy.
Regular readers of my work for The Nation are familiar with my reporting on how Mayor Emanuel rammed through the nation’s largest school closing. Because the move so plainly defied common sense, democratic procedure, empirical honesty, racial and class equity, safety and sound educational policy (see my reporting here, here, here, and here), the plutocrat-heavy school board Rahm personally appointed faced the problem of how to sell it. That’s where the Civic Consulting Alliance came in—and also the Walton Family Foundation, the right-wing group controlled by the family that owns Wal-Mart, who are rather gung-ho to close public schools in order to turn them over to charter school operators.