For more than two decades, Chicago has been one of the nation's leaders in privatizing municipal services and assets. Continuing the experiment in "public-private partnerships" begun by his predecessor, Richard Daley, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is pursuing an ambitious plan for "Municipal Marketing", a practice growing more common in cities across the country seeking new revenue streams.
But Chicago has a poor track record of transparency and getting the highest value out of such deals in the past. Whereas other cities have learned from Chicago's mistakes, it seems those lessons haven't been learned at home, says Dumke. In looking at the process by which Emanuel's municipal marketing initiative has progressed, he's found that "officials have continued the approach they took with the Skyway, parking garages, and meter system: making closed-door deals with the first people who pitch them."