Chicago: “Hog butcher for the world, tool maker, stacker of wheat” and now... builder of billboards? That’s the grand ambition of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, whose plan to add 34 digital billboards to the city’s skyscape is just Gov. Pat Quinn’s signature away from becoming a reality.
In typical Chicago style, the deal raises too many questions for the average citizen to easily wrap his ire around: a no-bid contract; the city covering all construction costs; and $15 million in revenue already baked into this year’s city budget (despite no billboards even existing yet). Also Mayor Emanuel has “boasted” that the contract guarantees the city $155 million over 20 years, yet one of the winning firms says it expects revenues of $700 million.
Does this mean a highly indebt city that privatized its street meters and the Skyway for pennies on the dollar is now launching a mostly privatized digital billboard program? If so, it would be par for a city considered by U.S. Justice Dept. statistics to be the most corrupt in the nation. In homage, here are 10 honest political ads you shouldn’t expect to see on those digital billboards: