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Emanuel juggles senior staff to make way for Obama campaign aide

Updated: January 7, 2013 10:18PM

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is juggling his senior staff to make way for a new addition from the Obama campaign.

Clo Ewing, who served as director of constituency press for the President's Chicago-based re-election campaign, is joining Emanuel's policy team as the city's $154,000-a-year chief of strategic planning.

Ewing will be reporting to a new policy chief. He's Michael Negron, who served as the mayor's point-man in the effort to deliver modest savings to consumers by making Chicago the nation's largest city to purchase electricity in bulk.

The current policy chief, David Spielfogel, has now been promoted to senior adviser to the mayor.

Last fall, Inspector General Joe Ferguson conservatively estimated that Emanuel was spending $4 million-a-year on 39 full-time public relations staffers with an average annual salary of $102,000 each.

Ferguson said Chicago taxpayers could save $920,000-a-year if the p.r. staff took a 25 percent cut.

The figures did not include a host of city employees with other job titles who are nevertheless involved in public relations, image, message control, event and media planning.

Ewing is a former producer at Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Productions who handled media reporting on Jews, gays, women and other niche groups for the Obama campaign.

That prompted Chicago Sun-Times Washington bureau chief Lynn Sweet to report that Emanuel was "beefing up his communications team" by hiring Ewing.

But, in an e-mail exchange with the Sun-Times, Emanuel's communications director Sarah Hamilton said, "Clo will not be doing public relations. She will be doing strategic planning in the policy department."

She added, "David [Spielfogel] still oversees policy and strategic planning and Michael [Negron] has simply been promoted. Certainly not a shake-up."

Ewing is African-American. Emanuel has been under pressure to ease a shortage of blacks in his cabinet and senior staff.

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