Emanuel, Angelson share long mutual admiration

April 20, 2011 4:34:44 PM PDT
Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel has appointed former Chicago business executive Mark Angelson as deputy mayor in charge of digging the city out of its $700 million budget hole.

In this Intelligence Report: Angelson's appointment has been years in the making.

There has been a strong mutual admiration between politician Emanuel and businessman Angelson for years, from Emanuel's days as a congressman, through his time in the White House, and now as Chicago mayor.

Even though Angelson gave a sizable contribution to the Emanuel campaign for mayor last fall, you really can't call this pay-to-play.

"I am pleased to announce that a leading business executive with a tremendous record in the private sector has agreed to join the city government for a dollar a year," said Emanuel.

It was fitting, that at Wednesday's announcement Angelson stood to Emanuel's right, because he was described as the mayor-elect's right hand man in fixing the city economy.

"Mark Angelson has headed several major companies throughout his career including the Chicago-based Fortune 500 R.R. Donnelly. As a printing industry leader during a period of rapid consolidation and technological change, Mark won respect for his team-building and his ability to navigate complex transactions," said Emanuel.

It was when Emanuel was serving as a U.S. congressman from the North Side that he cited Angelson for enrolling RR Donnelly employees in its company 401k retirement plan, a benefit Emanuel backed for all employees in a 2005 legislative package he sponsored.

The mutual admiration continued last fall when state election records show Angelson, living and working in New York at the time, kicked in a $10,000 contribution to Emanuel's Chicago mayoral campaign.

Then, while appearing in a financial forum shortly after White House Chief of Staff Emanuel won the Chicago election in November, Angelson defended Emanuel. He assured the panel that Emanuel was pro-business.

The deputy-mayor-to-be is frequently seen in the society pages, though Wednesday it was a nuts and bolts rundown of his upcoming public service.

"He will evaluate every one of the city's programs," said Emanuel. "He will ask tough questions about ways we can bring down costs, improve services, promote efficiency and transparency."

The transparency did not begin Wednesday, however. Just as Mayor-elect Emanuel did when unveiling his selection for school superintendent on Monday, Angelson was not allowed to take questions from reporters. In the past, Angelson has said he is not an economist. On day one, however, Emanuel has him in charge of fixing Chicago's deficit. Angelson says he is a businessman, and when he was at RR Donnelly he was No. 216 on the Forbes list of highest paid executives.


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