By: Mark Glennon*
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot Thursday announced Chicago’s new COVID-19 Economic Recovery Task Force.
Among the members named, listed below, I count just five who appear to have any economic or business credentials – Herencia, Hobson, Edelman, Cronin and Harris. None appears to have any expertise in insolvency. Additionally, the task force will by headed by Sam Skinner who has had a very, very long career in government and business. Let’s hope he is still at the top of his game.
- Roberto Herencia, chairman of Byline Bank
- Mellody Hobson, Co-CEO of Ariel Investments
- Bob Reiter, Chicago Federation of Labor president
- Jenny Scanlon, UL CEO
- Evelyn Diaz, president of the Heartland Alliance
- Karen Freeman Wilson, president and CEO of the Urban League of Chicago
- Alexa James, executive director, of National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Chicago
- Sandra Cordova Micek, CEO of WTTW | WFMT
- Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman
- Anton Seals, Grow Greater Englewood executive director
- Daniel Cronin, DuPage County board chairman
- Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County board president
- Joseph T. Tamburino, Village of Hillside mayor
- Ben Harris, executive director of the Kellogg Public-Private Initiative at Northwestern University
- Ai-Jen Poo, co-founder of the National Domestic Worker’s Alliance
Chicago needs the A-Team, not another task force. Here’s who Lightfoot should be calling: Kevyn Orr.
He was Detroit’s Emergency Manager during its bankruptcy. Tough, smart and experienced in the most complex insolvencies, his work for Detroit was exceptional.
If Chicago isn’t getting insolvency counsel from somebody like Orr it is guilty of fiscal nonfeasance. That includes assessment of whether bankruptcy would be best for all stakeholders.
Bankruptcy for Chicago and other municipalities would require authorization by the state. Most states have given their municipalities that option, but not Illinois. We earlier testified in Springfield in favor of it.
One key is getting the right emergency manager, or perhaps a financial control board would be right for Chicago. That would be a problem because, if Lightfoot had her say, that board would probably look much like her new Economic Recovery Task Force.
I am being a bit facetious in saying to call Orr. There are other top shelf insolvency experts here in Chicago, including some who battled with Orr in the Detroit proceeding.
Besides, Orr is probably booked up already. I expect very many municipalities across America are considering, and will be filing, for bankruptcy. Experts like Orr will rapidly become hard to find, and that will be major problem in itself.
*Mark Glennon is founder of Wirepoints.