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Emanuel confident he’ll survive residency fight

Updated: December 20, 2012 2:44PM

Mayoral hopeful Rahm Emanuel said Monday he’s confident he will survive the residency challenge aimed at knocking him off the ballot.

Hearing officer Joe Morris, the bow-tied conservative Republican who presided over marathon hearings in the case, is expected to make his recommendation to the Chicago Board of Elections Commissioners as early as Tuesday.

The three-member election board then will decide Thursday whether to uphold or overturn Morris. That will be followed by a court challenge that’s almost certain to end with the Illinois Supreme Court.

On Monday, Emanuel made his first public comment about the case since last week, when he endured nearly 12 hours of questioning, some of it by nearly two dozen citizen objectors, without losing his legendary temper.

The former White House chief of staff said he is confident he will survive the challenge because of what he called the “compelling points” that he and his attorneys made last week.

Attorney Burt Odelson has argued that Emanuel should be knocked off the ballot because he rented out his Ravenswood home and, therefore, does not fulfill the requirement that candidates for mayor have lived in the city for one year prior to the election.

“I had just gotten elected to Congress. The only reason I left was to work as President Obama’s chief of staff at the President’s request,” Emanuel said.

“[Wife] Amy and I own the home. We pay property taxes at that home. We vote from that home and [have] our driver’s license address indicating that is our home, holding our checking account here in Chicago. We had stuff in the basement of our home. We have e-mails indicating that we were returning. And I believe the people of the city of Chicago deserve the right to make the choice of who they want to vote [for] for mayor.”

On another subject, Emanuel condemned as a “false choice” Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis’ upcoming plan to reallocate police resources from lower-crime districts to those that need more officers.

Instead of robbing from Peter to pay Paul, Emanuel favors his own plan to use funds generated by Chicago’s 159 tax-increment-financing (TIF) districts to hire 250 more police officers to beef up Targeted Response Units that flood high-crime areas.

“TIFs today — 20-plus years after the TIF program [started] — still do not have a return on investment standard. There’s $900-plus million in TIF funds that are unused. A slight reform will find…savings of $25 million that could put 250 more police on the streets,” he said.

“Rather than take from one…neighborhood [and give] to another, which is pitting one part of the city against the other, I do not think the city should be pitted against itself. All of us have to move forward together…That type of [TIF] reform with better management will also give you the resources for more police.”

The Chicago Sun-Times reported last week that the stage is set for a confrontation over Weis’ plan, now that the Fraternal Order of Police has served notice that it intends to strictly enforce a union contract that, the FOP warns, severely limits Weis’ options.

Emanuel called the news conference in a gym at Interchange Medical Wellness Center, 1147 S. Wabash, to unveil his plan to implement a health and wellness plan for city employees that uses incentives to drive down costs by as much as $240 million over four years.

“Health care costs going up ten percent ever year. Revenues are not growing at that rate. They’re just not. This is an unsustainable path,” he said.

Contributing: Abdon Pallasch

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