A political consulting firm with close ties to Mayor Rahm Emanuel has funded and helped organize community groups and faith leaders on behalf of the mayor's contentious education agenda as a counterweight to fierce opposition from the Chicago Teachers Union.
Greg Goldner, who ran Emanuel's successful 2002 bid for Congress, dedicated the skills of Resolute Consulting to write press releases for pastors, produce a video presentation and help plan events. The effort supports Emanuel's attempts to lengthen the school day, bolster charter schools and close underperforming schools.
The issue of who is generating grass-roots support and whether it's real or the faux kind political types call AstroTurf took a turn recently when the Chicago Public Schools inspector general started looking at the Rev. Roosevelt Watkins, who is under scrutiny for paying people to attend hearings and speak on behalf of school closings.
Watkins said he has received money from Resolute. His organization also holds city school contracts. But Watkins said he didn't use public funds or the firm's money to pay the protesters.
Goldner acknowledged giving money to Watkins and other groups, but declined to say to whom or how much.