Rahm Emanuel 'Opportunity Areas': Mayor's $3 Billion Worth Of Old Ideas Have A New Name

Are Rahm's $3 Billion In 'Opportunity Areas' A Privatization Ploy?

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has announced a splashy plan to inject three billion dollars into seven Chicago neighborhoods in what the city touted in a Sunday press release as a new “Opportunity Planning” initiative.

(See the seven targeted "Opportunity Areas" and their proposed plans below.)

Though the city has stuffed the announcement with buzzwords like "holistic," "strategic vision" and "synergies," the Illinois Observer notes nothing in the mayor's plan is really new, save the curious emphasis on linking up with private entities to propel "opportunity" in the city.

Rather, the plan is a re-hashing of projects and public-private partnerships that were largely in the mayor's office's backlog or already in the works, as is the case with the urban agribusiness project slated for Englewood.

"Private-sector" investments or so-called "public-private partnerships" have long been interpreted as Emanuel's code for privatization, especially when hailed under the banner of cost-savings for the city.

"Chicago is reflective of the outsourcing that's been going on for years," Leonard Gilroy, director of government reform at the libertarian Reason Foundation said in a December Chicago Reader cover story on city privatization.

Curiously, after a "progressive caucus" of mayoral dissenters formed on the City Council — and announced privatization transparency as a key focus — a second caucus made up of Emanuel allies sprung up the following day.

Emanuel's plan, however, is likely to barrel ahead. Neighborhood blog Uptown Update hailed the news, while the mayor continued to talk up the plan in grandiose terms.

Speaking to the Sun-Times, Emanuel gushed, "In Bronzeville, we’re having the Gospel Fest that’s gonna be down there now on a regular basis. There’s a cultural element. We’re talking about marketing it as the ‘New Harlem.’”


Rahm's 7 'Opportunity Areas'

Slideshow text via the City of Chicago

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