What Mayor’s New Hires Say about the Future of Chicago

May 26, 2023

Cabinet, advisor and deputy picks suggest we’re in the first inning of a social justice and equity wealth grab double header

There’s an old adage in business hiring that used to matter. It goes something like this: “A's hire A's and B's hire C's.” It’s a reference of course to the idea that top people hire top people. It also suggests that the best leaders hire people who are, at a minimum, at least on the same quality level, if not superior. A strong leader, thus hires people who, at times, could actually be more qualified than the leader himself.

But in a world of race-based hiring, better known as Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), the notion of “quality” has become dramatically less important. In fact, a reasonable person might conclude DEI leads to race-based hiring which is the very antithesis of quality. That is, if we define quality as the best candidate to achieve an outcome based on qualifications, merit and work ethic rather than equity or equal outcomes regardless of inputs.

In private companies, however, most CEO’s still look to build teams based on the quality of the candidate first, skin color second. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of many large publicly traded companies given stated preferences for black, brown and LGBTQ hires at many firms (with active discrimination in hiring and promotion practiced against whites (especially men), Jews and Asians).

In short, to talk about quality or merit in hiring, well, that has become nearly verboten. Or racist if you’re in progressive circles.

Like Chicago.

But if an observer examines the hiring picks of new Mayor Brandon Johnson, it becomes clear that DEI serves as the “only” relevant hiring criteria. Specifically black hires (without any relevant experience in running anything but unions).

To be more specific, glaringly absent from any of Johnson’s picks are: Any private sector experience (with the exception of Jill Jaworski, the incoming CFO whom we will come to in a moment), anybody that has ever worked in business, anybody that has ever worked in management as in say acting on the side of management in a management/labor negotiation, and perhaps most importantly, not one person at the top of the administration comes from a policing background (and given that crime remains perhaps the city’s most pressing issue, one might expect a token pick from this community).

Why does this matter, especially now? Because the city is in crisis mode in terms of economic outflows.

According to Bard AI examining IRS tax filings, the city of Chicago saw a net outflow of 112,000 people in 2021 and 2022. The average adjusted gross income (AGI) for a Chicago resident in 2021 was $68,000. This means that the total AGI lost to the city due to the net outflow of people was $7,616,000,000. This serves as a “net loss” estimate. Younger people, those coming to Chicago, typically have lower adjusted gross incomes than long time residents. It’s not outlandish to hope that the mayor might at least have some casual curiosity or interest in this staggering number, or perhaps pay at least lip service to this issue in an attempt to “stop the bleed,”  if for no other reason than to secure the much needed funding to support his Marxist regime.

However, that would be an erroneous assumption.

Comically of course, the Johnson administration, from a DEI perspective, failed to add a single “Latinx” individual to the city’s leadership team, even though that population represents 28.8 percent of the city’s total population according to 2020 census data. After all, today’s equity equivocates that representation in anything must reflect the overall underlying population!

Notably missing from the top echelon of the Johnson administration, anyone identifying as Asian.

The notion that the government serves as the tool to make individual lives’ better appears at odds with this administration.

In terms of lack of private sector experience, only Jill Jaworski can boast having that working for a private financial advisory company, though helpfully in a public sector finance capacity.

Chicago Hiring “Tag Cloud” Phrases from Johnson Administration Picks

And though early press reports literally stated the city’s goal of “first we get the money,” the lack of any public or private business acumen and skill reflects the lack of understanding of some of the city’s youngest voters and most members of the powerful Chicago Teachers Union who put Johnson in office. Of course an “A” player would hire folks with those skills because once the COVID fund surplus dissipates (which it will during Johnson’s term in office), the notion of simply raising taxes or placing more of those taxes on the wealthy will never fly. It’s simply a numbers game. There won’t be enough of those residents to fund the city coffers. New and onerous taxes will “trickle down” to the city’s middle class and of course, to its youngest working residents.

Let’s get back to business. Literally the only reference to the word “business” comes from the appointment of Kenya Merritt to become the Deputy Mayor of Business and Neighborhood Development. Merritt herself has never actually worked for a business yet she will oversee, “promoting wage growth, entrepreneurship and investment in 77 neighborhoods.” Having worked for the Pritzker Traubert Foundation, Merritt at least has solid educational credentials. But having never earned a dollar in the private sector, she faces an uphill battle in fostering entrepreneurship.

Most citizens know that the city has both the authority and the ability to levy taxes and spend taxpayer money. What many do not know involves the concept of fiduciary responsibility. Just what is fiduciary responsibility? Again, Bard AI, “Fiduciary responsibility is a legal and ethical obligation to act in the best interests of another person or entity. Fiduciaries are typically appointed to manage assets or make decisions on behalf of others, and they have a duty to act with the utmost care, loyalty, and competence.”

When a person joins a Board of Directors, he or she has a responsibility to act in a manner that sustains and helps serve both the financial health of a business and its long term viability. Mayor Johnson has no basic understanding of fiduciary responsibility. If he did, Johnson would realize he’s breached ethical boundaries by hiring union negotiators as city managers. How will the city maintain fiduciary responsibility when it will merely rubber stamp the wants and desires of the most powerful public sector unions?

Johnson’s conflict-of-interest union picks include: Deputy Mayor Jennifer L. Johnson who most recently served as the Chief of Staff at the Chicago Teachers Union. Tell us exactly, Mayor Johnson, how this pick will help the standing of CPS? In addition, and to give credit where credit is due, Jennifer Johnson led the rollout of CPS’s controversial Skyline curriculum which was swiftly remade after the 2020 George Floyd riots here in Chicago.

The Skyline curriculum includes the new critical race theory (CRT) and social and emotional learning (SEL) components e.g. gender ideology, the identity pinwheel, the gender unicorn and a whole range of alternative “new” pedagogical themes. Johnson’s “accomplishments” are numerous including bargaining on behalf of the CTU, leading the union negotiations over an extended and protracted COVID lockdown policy keeping students out of the classroom for as long as possible (and the data continues to pour in regarding the damage these lockdowns caused Chicago children) and of course her gold star stellar accomplishment, leading an eleven day strike in 2019.

In addition to having Jennifer Johnson on the mayor’s team, transition director Jessica Angus, who most recently served as the VP and Chief of Staff of the SEIU Healthcare IL since 2008, as well served as the founding member of United Working Families, a political non-profit. Angus is literally a union organizer. Again, fiduciary responsibility be damned.

“Tag Cloud” Phrases in Merit-Based Hiring

Mayor Johnson, arguably has made the biggest mistake with his hires by effectively doubling down on Mayor Lightfoot’s CPD strategy. By selecting Garien Gatewood as the Deputy Mayor of Community Safety, Chicago residents should continue to expect little to no, um, community safety. Gatewood hails from the Illinois Justice Project, which supports the ever popular SAFE-T act, or bail reform. As a reminder, the ILJP promotes: The end of mass incarceration, reduced recidivism (which refers to the number of repeat offenders) and protecting the rights of people that have come into contact with the criminal justice system. As readers of Contrarian know, the ILJP has won numerous lawsuits against the city of Chicago and the Chicago Police Department (in excess of $20m).

For city residents who have a “wait and see” attitude about what the Johnson administration will bring, the preview looks crystal clear: Chicago will see its best summer of love ever. If car thefts and carjackings don’t bother city residents (because after all, these people have been oppressed), get ready to part with more of your hard earned money. Perhaps that doesn’t bother the average Tribune reader, but the city exit numbers should. Moreover, once a Chicago resident leaves and along with him his family’s adjusted gross income, tax receipts and local economic contribution, as they say, socialism only works until you run out of other people’s money.

But in the meantime, enjoy Summer of Love Part Deux!

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