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Emanuel to city workers: Stop slapping my name on signs

Welcome Chicago signs outside O'Hare airport do not have Mayor Daley's name clearly visible them.   | Al Podgorski~Chicago

Welcome to Chicago signs outside O'Hare airport do not have Mayor Daley's name clearly visible on them. | Al Podgorski~Chicago Sun-Times

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Updated: June 19, 2011 12:34AM

Mayor Emanuel said Tuesday he doesn’t want city employees wasting time and money putting up signs that bear his name.

One day after local television stations captured city crews swapping signs that bear Mayor Daley’s name with signs that include Emanuel’s, the new mayor called a halt to the work.

For a new mayor who’s big on symbolism and desperate to cut costs, the symbolism of the changing of the signs was lousy.

Emanuel acknowledged as much, after following through on a promise to cut $75 million from Daley’s final budget.

“They did … what they thought they needed to do, which is the ones at the airport. That was it. … And I’ve already spoken to that point. ... I do not want people rushing out making changes on a whole bunch of signs, wasting time, wasting dollars for no reason,” Emanuel said.

“My goal wasn’t to worry about signs and names. My goal was to worry about $75 million, and we’re doing it on Day One with a clear message. We’re putting Chicago’s fiscal house in order … so taxpayers have confidence in what we’re doing, and people around the country will see a city that’s confident of its future.”

Emanuel said as far as he knows, only two signs have been replaced, one of them at O’Hare. Another sign was swapped on the Chicago Skyway, which the city leased to a Spanish-Australian consortium for 99 years in exchange for $1.83 billion in 2004.

Avis LaVelle, a spokeswoman for Skyway Concession Co., said the sign was replaced “at minimal cost” at the private contractor’s expense.

“Skyway management decided that they didn’t want to have an outdated sign, so they changed it to reflect the reality of who is in the mayor’s office. Nobody told them to do it,” LaVelle said.

Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th), one of 13 new aldermen slated to attend their first City Council meeting on Wednesday, said it’s not enough for Emanuel to call a halt to the sign replacement.

The son of the late Mayor Eugene Sawyer said it’s time to eliminate “vanity” signs.

“The signs should say, `City of Chicago, Welcome.’ It doesn’t have to have the mayor’s name on them. It’s a vanity thing,” Sawyer said.

“If you’re gonna change the signs, change them once and for all, so we never have to do it again. Goodness knows, we’re in a financial crisis. We don’t need to change these signs as mayors come and go — assuming we’re gonna have mayors come and go. There [should be] no vanity involved.”

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