'Chicagoland' Charade Ignites Backlash Against Mayor Emanuel

Image: 'Chicagoland' Charade Ignites Backlash Against Mayor Emanuel

Tuesday, 13 May 2014 09:25 AM

By William J. Kelly

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Stark reality has shattered the myth of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's once-upon-a-time competence. A new poll by the Chicago Sun-Times reveals that only 29 percent of Chicagoans would vote for Emanuel if the election were held today.

The Emanuel backlash has begun.

The "Chicagoland" TV series charade confirmed the opinion Chicagoans had secretly formed of Emanuel long ago: that he is arrogant, calculating, and manipulative.

Emanuel is the Godfather with a Napoleon complex.

There is a reason Emanuel's "Godfather" moniker has stuck. It rings true.

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Human beings don't like being toyed with. Emanuel toys with people. He enjoys it. The dead fish aren't just a prop. Emanuel destroys people he doesn't like or that are "inconvenient."

Most little dogs just bark at the bigger dogs. Emanuel bites and keeps biting until there's nothing left.

In 2010, Emanuel ran for mayor of Chicago. He had the threat of millions of political dollars — mostly from out-of-state donors — behind him.

Many cried foul when the Illinois Supreme Court casually tossed out the legal challenge to Emanuel's residency requirement. In order to be mayor of Chicago, the law requires that a candidate must be a Chicago resident for one year prior to the election.

Emanuel was living in Washington, D.C., as White House chief of staff to President Barack Obama for the previous four years.

The issue of Emanuel's residency is still a sore spot to city workers, including many Chicago police officers and firefighters. To work in Chicago, they must live in Chicago.

Unlike Rahmbo, city workers can't just stuff their wives' wedding dresses in a crawl space and call it "home."

For the last three years, Chicagoans have also been force-fed the myth of Emanuel's competency. With that myth perpetuated by the Chicago media, voters swallowed their hatred for the man himself.

But the reality is, Mayor Emanuel is stunningly incompetent.
  • On Chicago's murder rate: Earlier this year, Emanuel claimed credit for the decline in Chicago's homicide rate — historic frigid temperatures notwithstanding. Now that the Windy City is experiencing a thaw, the murder rate is once again beginning to climb.
  • On "slow cops": When questioned about Chicago's homicide rate in March, Emanuel said the Chicago Police Department was "slow to react" to the problem of internecine gang warfare but is "making progress now" under his leadership.
  • On $1 million to "former" gang members: With Emanuel as mayor, the city of Chicago forged a $1 million deal with CeaseFire to use violence "interrupters," i.e. former gang members, in a desperate attempt to reduce city homicides. Originally, $1.5 million was budgeted for the program. The effort failed.
  • On Chicago's budget woes: Instead of making cuts and streamlining government, Emanuel's administration requested authority to borrow $900 million in new bonds. The City Council approved his plan in February and also agreed to double Chicago's short-term borrowing limit from $500 million to $1 billion.
  • On Chicago's pension crisis: Emanuel is under fire for a proposal to increase Chicago property taxes by $750 million to help fund two city pensions covering 57,000 workers. Critics argue the plan fails to address the $600 million contribution to public pensions Chicago must make next year. Polls show that an overwhelming majority of Chicago residents oppose the plan.
  • On his speeding tickets: Emanuel's motorcade has been caught on video plowing through school safety zones and through red lights 20 times in the last two years. He has apologized for the behavior of his security detail. All the tickets were dismissed.
With the mayoral election less than one year away, Emanuel has been attempting to spin his record and remake his public image. Since the "Chicagoland" TV series debacle, his image is worse than ever.

Most Chicagoans don't just dislike Emanuel; they despise him.

Rahm's acid personality type was well suited to the role of ruthless political operative but not Chicago's mayor.

Chicagoans like their mayors "likeable."

Chicagoans liked and feared Mayor Richard J. Daley, who once said, "The police are not here to create disorder. They are here to preserve disorder."

You can still find homes on Chicago's South Side with makeshift family room shrines to Saint John Paul II, Mayor Daley, and Elvis. South-Siders still speak in reverent tones whenever the name Richard J. Daley crosses their lips.

Daley's son Richie inherited his dad's gift for political malapropisms, and that South Side personality served him well for decades before Chicago's new financial realities took their toll.

There is also nostalgia for Mayor Harold Washington, the city's first black mayor. Washington's congenial personality had wide appeal that crossed racial lines and insulated him from criticism.

But Emanuel isn't likeable like Washington or Daley, and now Chicago's political gravy train is at the end of the line.

Rahm's short-lived mayoral reign might be nearing the end of the line, too.

William J. Kelly is a senior media strategist, TV critic, and producer of Emmy award-winning television. He is a contributor to CDN, American Spectator, and The Huffington Post. Kelly writes about Chicago politics and its cast of political characters. He is a native of Chicago's South Side.

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