Nun challenges mayor on charity's water bill

December 1, 2011 (CHICAGO)

Sister Rosemary Connelly criticized the mayor's decision to cut off charities while the two were at a breakfast fundraiser for the non-profit Misericordia, which Emanuel proposed charging for water to help plug the city's budget gap. Connelly is Misericordia's executive director.

Chicago's first Jewish mayor found out what it's like to be dressed down in public by a Catholic nun. But instead of a ruler, Sister Rosemary spanked the mayor with humor.

"Our relationship with our new mayor is somewhat mysterious, " said Sister Connelly at the fundraiser. To make her point about Misericordia having to pay for city water in future, she spoke about a recent conversation with Chicago's privately profane mayor.

"He said, 'You scare me S-H------,'" Sister Connelly said, spelling out the word, "You said it Rahm." Then to the group she said, "In spite of his fears, he's going to charge Misericordia for water... which will add to our deficit of $13 million debt."

Misericordia's annual water bill will rise from zero to a projected $350,000 a year because in 2012, Emanuel's budget will require not-for-profits to pay for water service.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, my five minute rebuttal..." Mayor Emanuel said. "Prior to this event, I thought Jewish mothers had a corner on the market as it relates to guilt."

Charging not-for-profits and raising water rates for city homeowners and suburban customers will generate hundreds of millions of dollars the mayor says will be used to rebuild the city's crumbling water mains and sewers. The only relief millionaire Emanuel said he could offer Misericordia will come from own pocket.

"Amy and I and the family will make a contribution again, personally, to Misericordia out of our charitable donations and we will help out. I want you to know that," Mayor Emanuel said.

While Misericordia leaders are seriously concerned about the effect of huge water bills on the home's future budgets, Thursday's breakfast was more of a roast. At the end, the mayor was serenaded by residents and presented with a cake.

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