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Emanuel: Ads could help pay for after-school programs

Rahm Emanuel Better Boys FoundatiWest Side Tuesday where he talked about his plan for an after-school program for Chicago elementary

Rahm Emanuel at the Better Boys Foundation on the West Side on Tuesday, where he talked about his plan for a an after-school program for Chicago elementary school students. | Jean Lachat~Sun-Times

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Updated: January 5, 2011 2:31AM

Chicago would sell advertising on city garbage trucks vehicle stickers, farmer’s markets and other public venues to raise $25 million — enough to help bankroll a dramatic expansion of after-school programs for at-risk kids, under a plan unveiled Tuesday by mayoral challenger Rahm Emanuel.

“You could do it on the city sticker. You could do it on the garbage truck. If there are other places to do it, I’m gonna look high and low throughout the city,” Emanuel told a news conference at the Better Boys Foundation, 1512 S. Pulaski.

“Coming up with the $90 million-plus that’s necessary for a full-year program for a little over 200,000 children to have five-days-a-week activity is essential for fighting crime and giving kids an educational opportunity after the school bell rings,” he said.

Emanuel wants to use those ad revenues and more to give nearly half of all Chicago Public School students a constructive alternative to the lure of gangs, drugs and sexual activity.

The program would operate five days a week for at least 2 1/2 hours each day and provide a “third meal” for participating students. Like First Lady Maggie Daley’s award-winning After School Matters program, it would offer choices for participating students.

“Academic, artistic or athletic. Whatever inspired that kid, whatever gave them a sense of self-esteem, that’s what they would pursue,” Emanuel said.

Emanuel pegged the cost of the program at $95 million, with $25 million coming from the new advertising. The rest would come from existing state and federal sources and from school partnerships with local businesses and non-profits.

Last fall, a report by the Afterschool Alliance gave Chicago mixed reviews on the subject of keeping kids off the streets.

The good news was that Chicago kids participate in after-school programs at a rate of 27 percent — nearly double the national average.

The bad news was that 30 percent of Chicago children are still unsupervised after school —compared with 26 percent nationwide — leaving them vulnerable to negative influences.

During a wide-ranging news conference, Emanuel also:

◆ Left no doubt that, if elected, he would replace embattled Police Superintendent Jody Weis because he’s looking for a “new beginning and a fresh start.”

“You can add more police, but if you don’t have a strategy that lifts the morale of the Chicago Police Department, more police will not solve that problem,” he said.

◆ Said there is “no doubt” there have been abuses in principal picks at Chicago’s elite public high schools and that greater “transparency” is needed, including the posting of all principal picks. Emanuel said he has not yet decided whether principals should be stripped of their power over selections, but he is “open” to consolidating the power in the hands of CPS management.

◆ Said he would use the bully-pulpit of the mayor’s office to pressure Morgan Stanley Infrastructure Partners to renegotiate the 75-year, $1.15 billion lease that privatized Chicago parking meters to include more favorable terms for taxpayers and more moderate rate increases for motorists.

◆ Acknowledged that there are “tough choices ahead of us,” without taking a firm stand on a lone-bidder’s proposal — in response to a city proposal to privatize the Taste of Chicago — to charge a $20 admission fee to the Taste and as much as $65-a-head for a music stage that draws the biggest name talent.

◆ Called Bill Daley “a friend of mine” and “quite capable,” but said it’s up to President Obama whether or not the mayor’s brother fills the bill as White House chief of staff, a job Emanuel once held.

◆ Responded to the behind-the-scenes negotiations that left Carol Moseley Braun as the consensus black candidate for mayor by saying he’s focused on the issues that unite the city, not the ones that divide Chicago.

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