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Emanuel touts ‘great relationship’ with Obamas, disputes book

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel visits Nathan Hale Elementary School highlight impact Chicago Public Schools recently approved $660 millicapital program Sunday

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel visits Nathan Hale Elementary School to highlight the impact of the Chicago Public Schools recently approved $660 million capital program on Sunday, January 8, 2018. Hale is scheduled to receive $15 million from the program to build an annex to relieve overcrowding. | Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times

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Updated: February 10, 2012 9:02AM

Despite a new book’s claims that Mayor Rahm Emanuel clashed with First Lady Michelle Obama when he was White House chief of staff, Emanuel said Sunday that he has a “great relationship with the president and First Lady.”

Emanuel was on the Southwest Side to tout investments in school infrastructure when asked about “The Obamas,” the book by New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor that comes out Tuesday. The book describes Emanuel’s relationship with the First Lady as “distant and awkward” and contends that under Emanuel, the First Lady’s office was isolated from the rest of the presidential orbit.

Emanuel on Sunday told reporters that he and his wife, Amy, were recently “with the president and first lady at a private holiday party. I talked to the president just yesterday.”

The mayor did not address any of the specifics mentioned in the book, but said: “I know what I know which is the truth. And I’m very proud to have worked for the president and the first lady, and Amy and I are very proud to call them friends.”

The mayor toured two Chicago public schools Sunday: Sauganash Elementary on the Northwest Side, site of a new $10.5 million addition; and Nathan Hale on the Southwest Side, scheduled to get $15 million for an expansion that will replace “temporary” trailer style classrooms that have been in use for decades.

Standing inside fourth-grade trailer-classrooms at Hale, Emanuel said it would be replaced as part of a $660 million capital improvement program approved last year by the Chicago Pubic Schools board.

The mayor said the money will go to more than 400 schools serving 300,000 children.

“This is one of the largest single capital modernizations to be budgeted in the Chicago Public Schools system’s history,” he said, “Every neighborhood, every part of the city, is going to see resources going into their schools.”

Asked about the Monday library closures which go into effect Monday, Emanuel took the opportunity to rail against AFSCME, the union representing library workers, saying they so far have failed to agree to his original plan to close libraries for only for a half-day on Mondays and Fridays.

“I need labor to be a partner in that effort and I continue to hold out hope that they will.”

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