Mayor Rahm Emanuel: Successes of first 100 days ‘just the beginning’
BY DAVID ROEDER Staff Reporter August 22, 2011 2:12PM
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel reports the results of The First 100 Days of the Emanuel Administration during a City Hall news conference, Monday, August 22, 2011. | John H. White~Chicago Sun-Times.
Updated: November 3, 2011 4:41PM
Mayor Rahm Emanuel cited accomplishments of his first 100 days in office Monday, producing a formidable checklist that he said represented not perfection, but a “down payment” on changes Chicagoans expect.
He covered issues from the big — making a start toward cutting $75 million from the city budget — to the bureaucratic, such as merging departments and cutting mid-level administrators. And he insisted he’s keeping his eye on long-term goals: safe neighborhoods, better schools, stable finances and governmental ethics and openness.
Emanuel called those his “north stars,” his navigational aids for civic improvements and political success.
“This is a down payment. This is just the beginning,” Emanuel said at a City Hall news conference. His 100th day in office is Tuesday.
The mayor said he’s not declaring victory on any vexing problems, noting that hard negotiations with municipal unions remain and that more changes must come to schools to ensure the placement of empowered principals and qualified teachers.
“I’m not spiking the ball on the 20-yard line,” Emanuel said.
He said much of his effort is focused on changing a bureaucracy that is often unresponsive to the public. He has arranged for reams of financial and contract information to be placed online and asked agencies to quickly respond to online complaints or requests for information.
“People are interested in their government,” he said. “They feel finally it is accessible and open to them and that Election Day was not the end of a process but the beginning of a process.”
Emanuel spoke of a parent who had “an issue” with the Chicago Public Schools, wrote to the schools’ Facebook page, and got a response that day.
“This nameless, faceless thing called a bureaucracy — that resident is the priority, not the bureaucracy,” Emanuel said.
He said he will shake up his agencies to ensure that their services are aligned with people’s needs, whether it’s getting schools to schedule report card pickups at times convenient for parents, or re-evaluating police assignments when two-thirds of violent crime occurs in one third of the districts.
Emanuel has added 500 officers to regular beats, mostly by reassignment from other duties, and put them in high-crime districts. Another 150 officers have been moved from desk jobs to beats across the city.
He said he is $51.3 million toward his goal of cutting the 2011 budget by $75 million.
Emanuel also spoke of his disagreement with Gov. Pat Quinn — which he said hasn’t become personal — over a city casino. Emanuel said the city needs casino revenue to support long-term spending on public works to make Chicago a better place to live and work.
The case of a busted water main that caused a sinkhole on the Northwest Side shows the danger of ignoring the city’s aging infrastructure, Emanuel said.
Quinn has said he’s against the statewide gambling expansion foreseen in a legislative bill that for the first time grants a casino license to Chicago.