No, Chicago is not any better under Emanuel.
Chicago Mayor Rahmn Emanuel has announced that he will not seek re-election next year after eight years in office. He has already raised $10 million towards a third bid.
Emanuel said the job of Chicago mayor “has been the job of a lifetime, but it is not a job for a lifetime.”
He said that he and his wife Amy want to write a new chapter in their lives as all three of their children have now entered college.
Emanuel served as President Barack Obama’s chief of staff before he became mayor in 2011. Obama released this statement:
“As a mayor, a congressman, and my first White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel has been a tireless and brilliant public servant,” Obama said in a statement.
“His work to improve our schools is paying dividends by helping our teachers and students achieve faster academic improvement than students in 96 percent of America’s school districts,” Obama continued.
“The announcement to establish universal pre-K in Chicago, on top of universal kindergarten, will give all our kids the best possible start. And his implementation of debt-free community college will help prepare all our young people for the new economy,” he added. “With record job growth and record employment over his terms in office, Chicago is better and stronger for his leadership, and I was a better President for his wise counsel at a particularly perilous time for our country.”
“I’ve been blessed to call Rahm my friend,” Obama said. “Whatever he chooses to do next, I know he’ll continue to make a positive difference, just as he has throughout his career in public service. And Michelle and I wish Rahm and Amy all the best as they consider this next phase in their lives.”
Yeah, this former Chicagoan doesn’t agree that Emanuel has made the city better or stronger. I guess Obama forgot that he closed 50 schools in 2013. The Chicago Tribune released a report this summer that detailed how the Chicago Public Schools failed to protect students from sexual abuse. Let’s not forget the record high property taxes to fund the depleted police officer pensions.
Chicago still has a high murder rate with blood staining the streets every weekend. It’s gotten so bad that The Chicago Tribune has been tracking every shooting in Chicago since January 2012.
The most violent weekend of 2018 occurred in the beginning of August where violence led to the deaths of a dozen people and left 62 more injured.
Challengers to Emanuel amped up criticism towards the mayor after that weekend, including former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas:
Vallas accused Emanuel of allowing the Police Department’s detective division to be “gutted through attrition” and moving officers around to various areas of the city for “political reasons” instead of strategic ones. Both of those help contribute to spikes in crimes and the city’s dismal rate of solving murders, shootings and carjackings, Vallas said.
“What happened over the weekend is absolutely horrific and unacceptable. It’s another tragic weekend in Chicago, and unfortunately, we’ve had too many of them,” Vallas said while announcing a plan to rehire retired detectives. “There is no substitution for providing the police resources we need to close this gap, because unless you get these killers off the streets and these shooters off the street, you’re going to continue to have weekends like this into the future.”
Activist Ja’Mal Green slammed Emanuel’s “failure to properly invest in economically downtrodden neighborhoods on the South and West sides.” Green wants to see more jobs and development in the neighborhoods that witness the most violence:
“Look around. We have vacant lots. Everything is boarded up. These are neighborhoods that are looking for real investment,” Green said as he pointed to the intersection of 78th Street and Halsted Avenue in Auburn Gresham. “We have boarded-up schools, boarded-up businesses, and they’re knocking down houses and no plans to redevelop them. So what type of hope are you giving to these communities? There is no hope in these communities. People are in survival mode.”
The decision also comes as the trial of Chicago police officer Jason VanDyke begins. He is on trial for the murder of Laquan McDonald that happened in October 2014:
For most of 2015, Emanuel fought in court not to release police video of the shooting, arguing the matter was still under investigation. When a judge ordered Emanuel to release the video in November 2015, then-Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez filed murder charges against Van Dyke on the same day Emanuel made the video public.
The controversy led to to a federal civil rights investigation of the police department, accusations of a City Hall cover-up and weeks of street protests that called for Emanuel’s resignation. It also resulted left Emanuel saddled with deep unpopularity among African-American voters, a demographic that he performed strongly with in his prior to campaigns for mayor.
I listed a few people above that have jumped into the mayoral race, but there are a few more. None of them have the name recognition like Emanuel or Daley:
Twelve challengers already have announced their candidacies. They include former Police Board president and onetime federal prosecutor Lori Lightfoot, former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas, former Chicago police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, millionaire businessman Willie Wilson, activist Ja’Mal Green, Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown, Chicago principals association President Troy LaRaviere, tech entrepreneur Neal Sales-Griffin, policy consultant Amara Enyia, attorney John Kozlar and pharmaceutical technician and DePaul student Matthew Roney.
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