Thursday, July 25, 2013

We love him, we love him not; what do we really think of Rahm Emanuel?

It was quite a way to start the working portion of my day Wednesday – stepping off a Metra commuter train at the LaSalle Street station to hear a chant echoing off in the distance.

Chicago was kept safe Wednesday from angry schoolteachers. Photograph by Gregory Tejeda

And as I walked up Clark Street (headed to the Daley Center courthouse for an unrelated event), their chant became clearer and clearer – Hey, hey. Ho, ho. Rahm Emanuel’s got to go!

YES, IT WAS the lovely batch of individuals from the Chicago Teachers Union, picketing the Chicago Public Schools offices before marching to the Thompson Center state government building (passing City Hall in the process) to let it be known they think it stinks that some 3,000 people (including more than 1,000 teachers) are about to be laid off.

The public schools system has financial problems, just like many other governmental units these days. The raw numbers for the Chicago system sound larger because the system itself is bigger.

More kids than any other school system. So they need more teachers.

So 1,000 Chicago teachers is probably the equivalent of some rural school district having to let a dozen people go.

IT HURTS! PARTICULARLY since many of those who teach in the Chicago Public Schools system have some sort of special dedication to education as a profession. Otherwise, they wouldn’t put up with the constant grief they are subjected to – and which they expressed publicly on Wednesday.

EMANUEL: Not the 'man of the hour'
Personally, the part of Wednesday’s protests that caught my attention was the police presence. That block was likely the safest place in Chicago in the morning hours.

I can’t help but think those officers could have been put to better use had they not been sent to a morning assignment that basically amounted to them standing around watching while school teachers picketed and chanted extremely off-key.

Then again, those officers probably felt a bit safer. Would they really have to venture off to assignments where they’d have to encounter real criminals? Or does someone really think that schoolteachers expressing their discontent with their treatment are criminal in nature?

NOT THAT ANY of this is new in nature. It was just this weekend that I picked up a copy of The Nation magazine – which featured on its cover an essay about the level of outrage that exists in Chicago toward “Rahm Emanuel’s austerity agenda.”

Which really is nothing more than Emanuel bringing his hard-headed tactics from his days in Congress and as White House chief of staff to City Hall.

This is the man who had organized labor and Latino ethnic groups suspicious of him because of the perception he didn’t really care about their issues, and wasn’t about to let their concerns hijack his own priorities.

Now, we can add the Chicago Teachers Union to the list of people who don’t have much use for Emanuel. Although I suspect Rahm himself prefers to look at it as gaining the support of people who’d prefer that the teachers union would just “Drop Dead!”

SO WHERE DOES Emanuel turn for some lovin’, or at the very least, someone who won’t publicly detest him?

About the only place that was willing to respect him on Wednesday was at City Hall. For the mayor on Wednesday made public his choice of a replacement for retiring 33rd Ward Alderman Dick Mell.

Emanuel, after using a process he created to accept applications and review the qualifications of a dozen finalists, went along with Mell’s desire that his daughter, Deborah, get the post.

No one who pays attention to City Hall on a regular basis was shocked by the choice. In fact, the only real surprise would have been if anybody BUT Deb Mell had got the post.

BECAUSE THAT WOULD have been a sure-fire way to trigger a political brawl, since Dick Mell remains the Democratic ward committeeman and would have made life uncomfortable for any Emanuel-chosen alderman not named “Deb Mell.”

Along with the alderman himself.

And Emanuel has enough enemies these days without needing to accumulate any more.


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