When the now-embattled Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced, shortly after his 2011 election, his plan to create an infrastructure trust, the idea sounded pretty good — at first. When the details came out — that the trust would be a private, opaque financing platform separate enough from government to not be beholden to public inquiry or FOIA requests — many privatization-weary Chicagoans braced for the worst. And why not? It turns out that so many Wall Street style “innovations” in real estate and infrastructure finance (the Chicago-style TIF comes to mind) do less to address civic need than they do to provide unaccountable disbursements to developers of already-desirable city land.
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