Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel celebrated his first year in office on Wednesday by touting his accomplishments and work towards greater transparency in city government. He even sent an email out to his list entitled, “Hold me Accountable” but the ability to do just that is a near impossible task.
Larger media outlets highlighted Emanuel’s first year with headlines like this from the Chicago Tribune – “An impatient mayor who always wants to be in control” or Crain’s “A new mayor lives up—and down—to his multifaceted reputation” while the Sun-Times notes he may have ambitions of higher office… even the White House. If I had the chance to title a one-year review of the mayor, it would be short and to the point, “God Save Us.”
Emanuel’s political team put together a report on his first year calling it “Changing Chicago Together.” The together part is troublesome. It is like saying we when you really mean I. Maybe this whole report is just one big pat on the back to his administration. One thing is clear though – the people are not part of this togetherness his team mentions. They could point to high approval ratings but it misses the broader picture of what just one year of Emanuel’s rule has done to this city.
He broke campaign promises:
He pledged to stem a chronic financial crisis without tax hikes, then unleashed a menu of new and increased fines and fees so broad that Chicago is more expensive for most.
He vowed an end to insider politics, yet gave the hard sell to a controversial speed-camera program that could benefit his onetime campaign manager.
He is the self-proclaimed champion of transparency who has proved to be secretive.
But that is just like most politicians. Things get left to the side or conveniently forgotten.
More so this:
“I’m not in the position of analysis,” the mayor said last month. “I’m in the position of getting things done.”
Recklessly moving ahead just for the sake of forward motion is akin to putting the car in drive while still sitting in the garage. As the Sun-Times notes:
Former independent Ald. Dick Simpson (44th) said he is troubled by Emanuel’s now-familiar pattern of hatching plans without public input, then making minor tweaks to make it appear that he’s compromising.
“He’s not really good at democracy. … What Rahm prefers to do is announce what he’s done for us, rather than consulting with us on what ought to be done,” said Simpson, head of the political science department at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Emanuel is a magician when it comes to appearances. He touts private jobs coming into the city but more than 600 employees lost their own jobs in the last year. He increased the cost of living in this city with higher fines and fees after promising not to do so. His move to reassign a 1,000 cops doesn’t seem to have done much to curb homicide in the city – it has actually increase dramatically.
The impatient mayor has pushed the buttons of labor leaders. After years of mismanagement and borrowing against city employees pension funds Emanuel now wants to use the employees retirement funds as the scapegoat. Emanuel is pushing for legislation at the state level that would punish hard working city employees, force them to retire later, and prevent them from cost of living increases promised to them in their contracts. Some might say that the city employees are a bloat on taxpayers and they don’t deserve it. Well that is buying into the right-wing narrative.
All employees deserve quality pay and retirement packages for years of dedicated service. Reneging on contractual obligations makes the word of the mayor’s office worth nothing. Emanuel is doing nothing more than following Daley’s dictator-like rule for two decades. The mayor’s first year has proven that he listens to only himself and those who can help him get where he wants.
Over the last year the mayor ignored the librarians, the mental health advocates, government watchdogs, and public school teachers. Last fall the Chicago Reader published a story that dived into the people important enough for the mayor’s personal time. Millionaires.
Where were the grassroots activists? In the cold, protesting for a place at the table. A progressive organization has not met with mayor, or at least publicly said so. Mental health advocates have resorted to occupying closing clinics because patients are being hospitalized due to their therapists losing their jobs.
Teachers face the mayor’s wrath all because they want to be properly paid for a longer school day. Yet, the administration says there is not enough money to fund the school system but they happily hand it over to charter schools once run by members of his administration. The speeding cameras received little public input and now stand to benefit a former campaign manager. The Trust initiative promises profits for private companies – a promise that will be kept, unlike the one made to public employees, at the expense of user fees for Chicago residents and visitors. Did an advocacy organization meet with the mayor? None that we know of.
I haven’t even touched on your handling of Occupy Chicago or the pending NATO conference. You’ve refused to hear from everyday people and yet you dare ask for accountability when you’ve shown your disdain for us.
So, “Hold me Accountable” he says. Just how are we supposed to do that when you don’t come back on the ballot for nearly another three years?
© Aaron Krager 2008-2013 | Have any questions? Send me an email.