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Mayor Emanuel is Charlotte-bound — despite teachers strike threat

Rahm Emanuel with President Obama. FILE PHOTO | Sun-Times Library

Rahm Emanuel with President Obama. FILE PHOTO | Sun-Times Library

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Updated: October 3, 2012 6:13AM



Despite the threat of Chicago’s first teachers strike in 25 years, Mayor Rahm Emanuel still plans to attend the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte and deliver an impassioned defense of his former boss, President Barack Obama.

The Chicago Teachers Union inadvertently cut the mayor a break by waiting until Wednesday to deliver the required, ten-day notice of a strike. That meant a strike could not begin until Monday, Sept. 10 at the earliest.

And then the CTU’s House of Delegates made it official on Thursday, designating Sept.10 as the strike date.

That means Emanuel can remain in Chicago for Tuesday’s first day of school, get on a plane to Charlotte after visiting several schools and deliver his speech to delegates on Tuesday night.

The mayor plans to return to Chicago on Friday morning. That would leave the weekend free to either quarterback or personally participate in negotiations if that’s what it takes to hammer out an 11th-hour agreement or finalize contingency plans if a strike cannot be avoided.

Last week, Emanuel gave reporters a preview of his convention speech and the pitch he will deliver to other state delegations if he has time to act as an Obama surrogate in Charlotte.

Having served as Obama’s first White House chief-of-staff, Emanuel is in a unique position to testify about the formidable challenges Obama inherited and the decisions he made to try and resolve those crises.

“On Day One, the financial industry had froze up. The auto industry was on its back. And the economy was in free-fall,” Emanuel recalled.

“And I saw a man with no blue-print on how to handle this — I saw a many who remembered the middle-class values he leaned on and the middle-class voices he heard and needed to work for.”

The mayor has talked repeatedly about the courage it took for Emanuel to champion the auto industry bailout when others — including Republican Mitt Romney, whose father once ran American Motors — were saying, “Let it go bankrupt.”

During the preview, Emanuel made it clear he plans to hammer away at the same theme in his speech.

“Today, the American auto industry is adding jobs. Why? Because the President of the United States took a different path — the path that put the middle-class first and fought hard for them when everybody said that’s good money after bad. When everybody said, ‘Let Chrysler go. It’s the only way to save GM,’” he said.

“And while he was doing that — which would have been worth a full-term on its own, stand-alone — he got America out of Iraq after one of the longest wars in American history in the same period of time. He also put in place the process of beginning to get the banks back to doing what banks should do: lending to homeowners, lending to small businesses, lending to students wanting to go to college.”

Emanuel noted that an economy once losing 800,000 jobs is now steadily adding jobs. The mayor also credited his former boss with implementing an education policy that “put our kids first and put accountability and standards back” in the nation’s public schools.

“So, I’m gonna testify to what I saw in that Oval Office — a man of courage, a man of conviction and a man of vision,” the mayor said.



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