Thursday, December 13, 2018

Emanuel remains ambitious in his final months serving in his mayoral post

I’ll say one thing for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel – he’s an ambitious S-O-B.

EMANUEL: Won't depart a failure
He’s not seeking re-election, and in fact the process of picking his replacement is now underway. People interested in mayoral politics are focused on the dozens of people with dreams of replacing Rahm.

EMANUEL IS ABOUT as “lame” a duck as one can be. Not exactly someone who’s capable of going out with a “bang,” because most people are determined to ignore anything he says or thinks.

Yet perhaps it’s just evidence of the political-style “fighter” he always was. The guy once nicknamed “Rahm-bo” isn’t going to let himself be turned irrelevant.

And he also seems determined to impose policy changes for Chicago’s betterment; although I have no doubt there will be critics of everything Emanuel suggests – particularly if they’re the type who’ve been complaining about him for the past just under eight years that Rahm served as mayor.

Just the other night, I happened to be in attendance at a suburban City Council meeting where the focus of discussion amongst those aldermen was Emanuel. Let’s just say that Rahm’s name most definitely was taken in vain.

WHAT IRRITATED THOSE suburban municipal officials? Gas prices.

For it was on Tuesday that Emanuel suggested an increase in the gasoline tax – possibly 20 to 30 cents more per gallon, to help raise money for mass transit and road improvements.

By the way, the mayor isn’t talking about having Chicago raise its gas taxes. He’s talking about having the entirety of Illinois do so.

Which makes sense, in one way. If this were merely a Chicago city gas tax hike, it would balloon the price of gasoline at Chicago-based fueling stations so high that no one would ever buy gasoline again in the city.

MAKE IT A statewide thing, and you wouldn’t have such a drastic gas price differential that motorists would find it worth their while to drive out to suburban gas stations in order to load up their tanks on the petrol that enables them to function.

But while Emanuel has some suburban municipal officials on his side, there are others grossly offended. Mainly because they know their local voters will hate the idea of anything that makes gasoline prices go higher.

Usually, the local politicos can make outlandish claims about Arab oil sheikhs enriching themselves. They certainly don’t want anybody doing anything that would make it appear as though blame should be placed locally for rising gas prices.

Particularly since it isn’t just Chicago that has municipal elections come February and April of 2019 – just about every suburb has a mayoral post up for grabs. I don’t doubt many local political people will want to see this suggested gas tax hike fail.

IT ISN’T JUST gas that gets Emanuel worked up. He followed up that idea with suggestions that marijuana be legalized (and taxed, appropriately) and a casino opened in the city. All to try to raise money to pay off a public pension debt that has risen into the billions of dollars.

Those are both issues that will stir up a stink amongst some people in good times. They’d be a test of one’s political strength.

Yet Emanuel is trying to do them at a time when he’s on his way out the door and most people would rather he just pipe down! Does Rahm have the political skill to get any of these goals accomplished? Can he overcome those people who would consider it their own political goal to see Emanuel leave office a failure?

Or perhaps we should consider one other outcome – some of these issues eventually get enacted, but not quickly enough for a “Mayor Emanuel” to be able to take credit. How many might support a Chicago casino, for example, if it means Emanuel’s mayoral successor gets to take credit?


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