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Time for Rahm Emanuel to take the reins, tackle city’s problems

Updated: June 16, 2011 12:27AM

‘Beginnings” . . .

The decision by Team Emanuel to have the rock band Chicago kick off this weekend’s inaugural festivities is a perfect and perfectly ironic choice.

The group, formed by DePaul students back in the ’60s, turned a 1969 hit called “Beginnings” into gold. Whether the Emanuel administration can convert its own beginnings into gold is the question.

“Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?”

Time for Rahm to take the reins from Rich “If You Should Leave Me Now” Daley and tackle the multiple crises threatening the city.

“Questions 67 & 68” have to do with how the new mayor will backfill a gaping $650 million to $700 million budget hole. Or pull pension funds from the brink.

Dialogue Part 1 will require a continuous conversation with City Council. But already there’s a peace treaty between Emanuel and a political nemesis, Ed Burke, the most powerful alderman in the world.

Dialogue Part 2 remains a contentious conversation with the media. The nascent Emanuel administration takes the term “control freak” to stratospheric heights, attempting to limit questions, control topics and use access as a big stick to reward or punish an unruly press. Even Mayor Daley’ has noticed, cheerfully offering the other day that he always took questions.

“Colour My World” skeptical, but this situation won’t improve without a fight.

So let’s return to the music, shall we?

For decades, the band Chicago has traveled the world, carrying the name of this city wherever it went. Still, they are not without their music critics.

One is Jim DeRogatis of WBEZ-FM, a former Chicago Sun-Times colleague, who dubbed Chicago a “creaky nostalgia act and horn-driven schlock-meisters.”

Peter Schivarelli, the colorful and sometimes controversial former 43rd Ward superintendent and longtime manager of Chicago, naturally disagrees. And so do I.

After dozens of gold and platinum records and tens of millions of records sold, the group has scaled just about every mountain but one.

For 20 years, they’ve been eligible for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Yet, somehow, that honor has eluded them.

Some theorize — rightly or wrongly — that it has to do with Rolling Stone creator and driving force Jann Wenner blackballing them.

“Politics is in everything,” said Schivarelli, who didn’t want to throw brickbats when I reached him by phone Thursday.

Schivarelli knows politics. His first city job was on a garbage truck. Daley I made him ward superintendent, but he fell out of favor with Daley II.

He doesn’t know Emanuel but says he and most band members who were registered to vote here voted for him.

“I’d say we had about 75 percent turnout for him,” Schivarelli said with a laugh, reverting to the lingo of the ward boss he once was.

Asked if he had any guidance for the new mayor, Schivarelli said: “He has to realize people want him to be successful. A lot of people love the city, love livin’ there.”

They don’t, however, love underperforming schools, high property taxes or cutbacks in city services. All stand as profound challenges.

“Where Do We Go From Here?” That’s what Chicago asked in its second album.

Whatever the answer, it will be “No Saturday In the Park.”

But if the new mayor can’t move the needle and nothing seems to work, for diversion there’s always Kelsey Grammer, who is in town filming a TV sitcom called “Boss” about a fictional Chicago mayor.


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