Cloudy days roll in for Emanuel
BY CAROL MARIN firstname.lastname@example.org May 17, 2013 6:54PM
Mayor Rahm Emanuel presides over a 2013 City Council meeting. | Sun-Times Library
Updated: June 20, 2013 4:24PM
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, two years on the job, has hit a tipping point.
Take a moment to consider what next week brings.
The Red Line is shutting down.
The mayor seeks to close 54 schools.
And city parking meters keep sucking down more of our cash.
Any wonder his poll numbers are dropping?
The mayor, fixated on the control of his message, seems fit to be tied.
And so, this week, reporters again had to chase him out of one of his heavily controlled appearances in search of an actual conversation.
It didn’t happen.
The nimble mayor sprinted away.
Look, let’s stipulate that his job — on a good day — is a hard pull.
Let’s also remember that, with supreme confidence, he assured us he is up to the job.
And committed to transparency in executing it.
We can debate how prepared he was.
But transparent? There is no debate.
Transparency is a Rahm-talking point but not remotely the truth.
So let’s begin as frankly as Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle did on Thursday with the Sun-Times’ Dan Mihalopoulos.
The subject was school closings. Specifically the public hearings and evaluations by impartial hearing officers sent to analyze the shuttering of those 54 schools. They recommended saving 13.
It turns out that, despite community input and the careful analysis of the judges, the mayor’s team seems intent on not listening.
“What was the point of having public hearings?” Preckwinkle asked. “Was it all a charade?”
Let’s move next to the toxic topic of Chicago parking meters.
On this particularly flammable subject, the mayor has asserted his renegotiation with Chicago Parking Meters LLC is the city’s only viable alternative to ex-mayor Daley’s disastrous sell-out of the parking meter revenue stream.
Take it or leave it, City Hall says.
It’s hard for aldermen, let alone citizens, to grasp the complexity of this deal.
Well, because the city Law Department — and our mayor — invoke “attorney-client privilege” in not permitting anyone to read portions of the most recent negotiations.
So, apart from a hack-ridden, lay-down majority of the City Council, only a handful of aldermen have read and/or understood the new parking meter contract that, according to reform Ald. Scott Waguespack, is just as likely as the previous agreement to rob us of desperately needed revenue while picking our pockets for the next seven decades.
It’s worth mentioning that one of Emanuel’s big campaign promises was to expand the reach of the city’s inspector general, Joseph Ferguson, to be our municipal watchdog. The mayor, once elected, immediately reneged on his promise.
This week, Ferguson leveled his gaze on the city’s red-light cameras. Which, he concluded, provide no evidence of making us safer while serving to enrich the city’s bottom line.
There is an imperial quality to Rahm Emanuel when people dare to question him.
I have too much respect for his talents to ever argue the emperor has no clothes.
But he has shed a layer or two of invincibility in the last two years.
And a hot, terrible summer isn’t likely to help.