CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago mayoral candidate Gery Chico is largely basing his campaign on his performance at Chicago Public Schools and the City Colleges, boasting about success there in his TV ads.
But does Chico’s record match his rhetoric?
In his campaign ads, Gery Chico portrays himself as regular guy from the neighborhoods who’ll protect Chicago’s working families and Chico brags about the job he did on Chicago’s school board.
The ad rings true. When Chico took over in 1995, CPS faced a $325 million deficit. Over his six years there, CPS submitted six straight balanced budgets, spending $2.6 billion to repair old schools and build new ones.
But Chico doesn’t say he did all that in partnership with another mayoral candidate: Former schools CEO Paul Vallas.
And critics point out Chico’s law firm during those years became the biggest lobbyist at City Hall growing from 18 clients to almost 200.
Chico’s campaign responded.
“He has always been transparent about this and his firm clearly states it right on its homepage.”
What’s more, Chico’s law clients received almost $600 million in CPS business forcing Chico to abstain on board votes involving his clients a whopping 400 times.
Cutting waste is a subjective call. But records confirm Chico’s board cut City College property taxes for two years running. As for the conflict of interest accusations, Chico said he never applied pressure for anyone at CPS to hire his clients.
But those clients made plenty of money at CPS and through his law firm, so did Chico.