Mayor Rahm Emanuel Stubbornly Remains in Office, Still Destroying Chicago

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“When the Mayor deems Gang Threats Against Police ‘Absolutely Unacceptable,’ he’s perfectly right of course. But the mob vengeance mentality against the CPD did not germinate in a vacuum. What he calls “a continuing dialogue on police reform,” is necessary because Emanuel’s office has a persistent problem – routine evidence of black citizens losing their lives to police officers under circumstances questionable at best.

At this point we’re stuck with Rahm until early 2019. Consideration of a recall bill has been stalled since January, and the Mayor has deflected numerous calls for his resignation. However, we are the same city that shut down a Trump rally, the town that rebuilt itself as a world-class destination after a devastating fire. We reversed the flow of the Chicago River. We are more than capable of coming together to remove the cancer in City Hall. So let’s do it. #FireRahm”

Read the full post at Contemptor.

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It May Not Be Trending, But Rahm Emanuel Is Still Ruining Chicago

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“Why has the #FireRahm inferno cooled, fully ablaze as it was just months ago? Self-serving media/political laziness is one factor. Why fight a stubbornly intransigent and still powerful City Hall when an election-year Trump is the headline-grabbing gift of a generation? I appreciate The New York Times keeping this story nationally alive. Summer is coming and there’s no reason to believe the soaring 2016 murder rate will decline in a hot city torn apart by cynical, dehumanizing leadership. I said it in December 2015 and nothing has changed. Rahm has got to go.”

Read the full post at Contemptor.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel Must Be Impeached If Democracy Means Anything

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“We are the city that reversed the flow of the mighty Chicago River in 1900 to rid ourselves of toxic filth. We can do it again. We must. If not, we are officially, if passively, surrendering to an Orwellian dystopia. And we can’t complain about anything else from here.”

Read the full post at Contemptor

Rahm the Edible (February 25, 2015)

Almost exactly four years ago, I wrote a piece for the now-defunct online magazine RootSpeak entitled, Rahm the Inevitable. The column was published just before Chicago’s general Mayoral election that year, a time when Rahm Emanuel’s march to City Hall had the pre-ordained feel of a Hillary Clinton 2008 – without the Barack Obama spoiler. Here’s a snippet of my February ‘11 observations:

“Now that the wide variety of political shenanigans that have come to exemplify the 2011 Chicago mayoral race have been exhausted, it seems there’s nothing left to do but wait for Tuesday’s electoral returns. At that point we may stop referring to former U.S. Congressman and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel as the ‘presumed favorite,’ move beyond his Goliath campaign and start seeing the new CEO of Chi-town in action.

After all, there’s no way anyone could take him at this point, right? Rahmbo has five times more campaign funds at his disposal than nearest fiscal competitor, Gery Chico. His slick print ads and television spots depict the handsome, well-dressed former ballet dancer as a family man who cares about the middle class, ready to make the ‘tough choices’ that will put Chicago back on the fast track to claiming its status as an affordable, world class city. A few of his TV plugs contain public endorsements from not one but two U.S. Presidents, current POTUS Barack Obama, as well as immediate predecessor William Jefferson Clinton.”

Back in 2011, Emanuel emerged as the Windy City’s clear victor, logging 55.35 percent of the total vote count, compared with Gery Chico’s limp 23.97.

Well kids, what a difference a leap year makes, eh? Over the course of his first term, “the ‘tough choices’ that will put Chicago back on the fast track to claiming its status as an affordable, world class city” turned out to be a complete gutting of the Chicago Public School system, while siphoning funds to promote North Side charter schools for the elite. South Side children that were redistricted without their consent have been forced to hoof it through dangerous gang territory.

Another of those “tough choices” was the privatization of the Chicago Transit Authority’s payment operations, with the 2013 debut of the Ventra card system. I think Rick Perlstein of The Nation spoke for many of us when he observed:

“The problem is not just the profusion of private contractors who do the public’s business so poorly; it’s the fact that the public’s business is being so relentlessly privatized by the government executives in charge. Slowly, the perceived imperative to privatize has become the political tail that wags the policy dog. The results are before us. Why, indeed, was this massive change in how Chicagoans pay for their bus and train fares initiated in the first place?”

Coming off predecessor Mayor Daley’s absurd parking meter lease “deal” which screwed Chicago for 75 years, a repeat of this type of performance wasn’t interpreted as very populist of Rahm. But if the ravaging of public education and the city’s transit system were not enough, there was plenty else about Emanuel to rankle Chicago’s largely blue color spirit: the close ties with new Republican Governor and enemy of organized labor, Bruce Rauner, the arrogance, the bullying, the closed door meetings. The antithetical “man of the people” conduct that exemplified the Mayor’s first term finally led Rolling Stone to declare, Rahm Emanuel Has a Problem with Democracy.

Well after yesterday’s general re-election performance, in which Rahmbo was forced into a surprising April runoff against second place finisher, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, he certainly has a bigger problem with democracy now.

Here’s the pesky thing about voters. Sometimes no matter how hard you try to persuade them that you’re in their corner, they take a look at your record and decide not to believe you. The tide of public sentiment was running against Emanuel before the first polling place ever opened its doors. And here’s what else changed since I wrote about Rahm’s first Mayoral run in 2011.

  1. This round, Emanuel had THIRTY times more campaign funds at his disposal than his nearest fiscal competitor.
  2. He is the sitting CEO of Chicago, and incumbents are generally considered the electoral favorite with few exceptions.
  3. It seems unbelievable even as I type, but Garcia entered the race a mere four months ago. Rising from relative obscurity as a member of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, he took an astounding 33.9 percent of the popular vote compared with Rahm’s 45.4.

    That last number is the most important one. Because having failed to secure the required 50 percent plus one vote, the former Rahm the Inevitable must now face an April 7 runoff against Garcia in which nothing is certain. All that money. All that love from the political elite. And yet it’s more than possible that Emanuel could be out of a job in six weeks.

The people spoke yesterday and I suspect they’ll raise their voices even louder in the coming days. Anecdotal evidence suggests that Tuesday’s near record-low turnout was a combination of bad weather and voter apathy. When folks stop believing they can change anything, they tend to stay home.

By any measure Rahm Emanuel already lost on February 24, 2015. A megawatt celebrity sitting Mayor with 30 times the budget, and infinity political supporters (including the POTUS), is back shilling for votes today. But he’s been wounded. The previously scared but hungry can smell his blood. I relish the pile-on, not out of spite or schadenfreude, but because like most citizens, I understand that what’s good for the Windy City is good for me. And another four years of Rahm is a bad deal. I’m grateful that my fellow Chicagoans finally feel empowered to reject it.

The Spring That Wouldn’t Come (March 27, 2013)

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Today is March 27th. It’s a full week after the official inauguration of spring. The sun is shining but the air temperature hasn’t risen above 43 degrees Fahrenheit in the Windy City. It must be mentioned that the daytime high soared to 80 degrees on St. Patrick’s Day in 2012, a strange anomaly that took Chicago’s love for green beer to extremes. I recall sending my boyfriend at the time out for a bottle of wine to complement our meal of corned beef and cabbage. This was early afternoon. He returned from a four block round-trip walk shaking his head. If you have to step over more than one drunk in broad daylight, hedonism has clearly won.

This year, the Chi-rish were significantly more subdued. With windy, cold conditions and the barometer stuck in the 30s, I can personally report a more humbuggish approach to the drinking holiday.

The irascibility has yet to wear off given spring’s stubborn refusal to approximate its normal self. And it’s not just me. Allow me to quote recent Facebook status updates from my circle of acquaintance:

“Just because I’m giving you a shot doesn’t mean I’ll ever like you, cold weather running. I hate you, I hate you, I hate you…I hate you…I. Hate. You.”

“Spring starts tomorrow, right? Right? RIGHT?!?!?!?!?!?”

“Really, 19 degrees?!? Full of S***!”

“Have officially reached my limit, this weather is B.S. where is spring? #overit”

“Glad it’s rain, not snow.”

“Mighty happy I don’t work for Yahoo! This is the second Tuesday in a row I have waited for the snow in my PJs”

“How am I supposed to start running again when winter NEVER ENDS!!!”

And on it goes. I must remind my gentle readers that these protests emanate from hardened Midwesterners used to winter’s cruelty. But we’ve had enough now. My fellow Chicagoans are angry at this tardy season to the point of mutiny, if only we knew who to tie up and threaten. Our current mayor, former Obama administration Chief-of-Staff Rahm Emanuel, is accustomed to hurling obscenities to get his way, but thus far Mother Nature seems unmoved by our collective epithets.

St. Louis received another 11 inches of snow this past weekend. It seems prudent to assume we’ll be wearing ski jackets to Seders, Easter dinner and other springtime celebrations.

With that dreary thought in mind, I leave you with these lyrics from the K.D. Lang song, “I Dream of Spring:”

“This is world is filled with frozen lovers
The sheets of their beds are frightfully cold
And I’ve slept there in the snow with others
Yet loved no others before

These cold dark places, places I’ve been
In cold dark places, I dream of spring”

Farewell to the King (February 23, 2011)

 

Well, I admit I was hoping for a runoff. I never liked the way Rahm Emanuel’s win in yesterday’s Chicago’s mayoral election was accepted as a foregone conclusion almost from the moment he announced his candidacy. We have spent the last 22 years voting (or not) for a virtually uncontested monarch, Richard M. Daley. To quote myself from the link above, “Mayor Daley may have done great things in terms of beautifying the landscape and attracting new business but anyone who has lived in the city for the last 22 years knows how much damage his interminable term has done: skyrocketing property taxes, unaffordable homes, runway gang crime and terrible fiscal decisions.”

Yesterday’s trip to the polls presented a chance for residents to take their city back, to peacefully foment a revolution, inspired by the examples that are quickly spreading across the Middle East. “Change” has been a political buzzword for several years now, but I am starting to wonder if the citizenry of Chicago is interested in that all. Because now we have Rahmbo. And no matter how young (relative to Daley), good looking and tough he is, is there anyone out there who really believes Rahmbo will make a clean break from The Machine politics of the Daley dynasty? If so, I have an extensive VHS collection I’d like to sell you (valuable vintage!)

I am willing to give Emanuel a chance. In some ways there is much to celebrate in accordance with his trouncing of the competition, earning 55% of the popular vote. We have our first mayor of Jewish descent. And we are spared the indignity of being led by Carol Mosley Braun, whose meager tax returns indicate a woman incapable of running a business (which, make no mistake this city is), and whose mouth suggest a woman incapable of talking sense. I invite Ms. Mosley Braun to crawl back under the pop cultural rock from whence she came.

And if I have mixed feelings about Rahm Emanuel as Chicago’s new mayor (intertwined with my reservations about Bill Daley serving as the President’s new Chief of Staff), I am unequivocally thrilled to be rid of the Daley regime. The AP succinctly contextualizes the long running relationship as follows: “It was the city’s first mayoral race in more than 60 years without an incumbent on the ballot and the first in more than two decades without Daley among the candidates. Daley and his father have led Chicago for more than 43 out of the last 56 years.”

If ever there was an argument for term limits, Daley was it. I was never a fan but I have been forced to stand by idly for two decades as the term “affordable housing” became an oxymoron. Chicago has failing schools, rampant gang activity, and for anyone who raves about all the “beautification” initiatives Daley has undertaken, I invite you to take a trip o the South Side with me. For the most part, the King and his cohorts labored under the misguided impression that the North lakefront was the whole of the city. Coincidently, the North lakefront is where you will find all of Daley’s big and rich contributors. I am sure this is merely coincidence.

No matter who was declared the victor last night, I would be happy because today is 24 hours closer to being able to give Daley and his parking meter lease the boot. And not that this has any impact on his eventual ability to govern, but Rahm is certainly an aesthetic improvement over old Dick, with his trained ballet dancer grace and sexiness.

At least Chicago received some national political attention of the positive kind, rather than the interminable corruption charges, trials and imprisonments of our state governors. I know we have wisely placed a moratorium on the death penalty, but couldn’t we waive it just this once to rid ourselves of Blago? That clown is like the shame gift that keeps on giving (unasked).

Daley? Don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out. Rahmbo? You better mean it, unlike your former boss, when you say you’re prepared to ask Chicagoans to make the “touch choices” that will bring the city back to fiscal solvency. I’ll be watching.

Rahm Vs. Chuy: How Emanuel’s Divisive Racial Politics Could Clear A Path To Mayoral Victory (April 7, 2015)

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In September 2013, frustrated urban liberal populists experienced a jolt of genuine excitement with the New York City election of now-Mayor Bill De Blasio. All at once it seemed like the promise of the Occupy Wall Street movement had some real legs. After 12 years and three terms of the Father Knows Best leadership of one percenter Michael Bloomberg, the Big Apple proved it was serious about change.

Residents of “the Second City,” also known as Chicago, Illinois, are waiting with bated breath to find out if we’re having our own De Blasio moment this year. The polls are officially open, with local and national media eyes trained on the runoff Mayoral election between incumbent and former White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, and his opponent, Jesus G. “Chuy” Garcia. Although technically a Democrat and a former top aide to President Obama, frustrated Windy City residents and political dissenters have grown increasingly vocal about Emanuel’s presumptive sovereignty in shuttering public schools, privatizing the city’s public transit system and a host of other issues.

After being outspent by a wide margin and making a late entry into the candidate field, conventional wisdom had Emanuel enjoying a comfortable re-election on February 24. As writerWhet Moser observed for Chicago magazine, “No one, outside of the Garcia camp, seemed to expect he’d survive to a runoff.” Although unions have been weakened by right-wing efforts in recent years, never bet against angry educators and parents when it comes to mobilization.

With Emanuel jolted and on the runoff defensive, Garcia found a big opening to capture the zeitgeist and hand Chicago a populist revolution. On March 3, the South Side Weekly anointed Chuy the “standard-bearer for a movement of Chicagoans deeply distrustful of the Mayor’s claims that he has improved lives over the past four years, [embracing] the notion that Emanuel’s administration embodies the worst of corporate excess that makes victims of ordinary Chicagoans.”

But as any lifelong resident of the Windy City will tell you, racial divides remain. Paradoxically it appears that the white, elitist Emanuel is having an easier time uniting his coalition of African-American supporters than Garcia, a candidate of Mexican descent. If the trend holds, Chicago’s 33 percent black population could play a critical role in handing Emanuel a second stint at City Hall.

On April 3, Julie Bosman of the New York Times wrote Candidate for Chicago Mayor Struggles to Unite Latinos and Blacks. And she wasn’t talking about Rahmbo. She assesses the Chuy problem as such:

“Mr. Garcia’s strategy was to build a coalition of white liberals, blacks and Latinos — angered by Mr. Emanuel’s closing of dozens of schools and supportive of a plan to shift development from its wealthy downtown to poorer neighborhoods.

But a Chicago Tribune poll released Tuesday showed Mr. Emanuel with a commanding lead. He not only has large margins among white voters, but a nearly two-to-one margin among black voters, 53 percent to 28 percent. Mr. Garcia has not been able to increase his share of the black vote.”

What could be driving Garcia’s alienation from the black community? In 1980, Chicago’s Hispanic population stood at 14 percent. 30 years later, it hovers close to 30 percent. Unfortunately what that amounts to is a lot of the same demographic fear and distrust playing out across the country every time the phrase “immigration reform” is dropped.

The Times piece quotes Martha Biondi, chair of the African-American Studies Department at Northwestern University as saying, “Unfortunately, African-American communities in Chicago are faced with extraordinarily high unemployment rates — there’s just an ongoing, really dire economic crisis…And instead of blaming employers or the leaders of the major parties, many people who are suffering will sometimes blame immigrants or working class rivals.”

It would be a real shame if Emanuel, one of the key architects in tilting Chicago’s economy toward the vested interests of the white one percent, ironically profits from his own machinations with a rubber stamp from Chicago’s black community.