Whatever King Emanuel wants, he gets. Or at least that's the attitude that Chicago's current Mayor Rahm Emanuel has held during his nearly year and half term of office. Apparently convinced that he channels the gravitas of one time King and now consultant, Richard II (i.e. Richard M. Daley), Emanuel has gone to work to dismantle (in no particular order): city sanitation, Chicago public schools, and the right to peaceful protest.
In their place he offers Chicagoan the tired remains of Daley's late-term fixation on "public-private partnerships." Only this time he chooses to call these leftovers a "public trust." Does parking meter privatization by another name smell as sweet? Emanuel seems to think so. I wonder what venture capitalists will get their hands on this time. Perhaps our city water supply.
The current mayor's haste to push through his agenda with little or no debate shows his incomplete understanding of the previous mayor and the machine that made Daley's long reign possible.
Yes, Daley was a bully. He frequently ridiculed aldermen who refused to agree with his initiatives and left them little time to even review the documents. Hence the terrible parking meter deal. Yes, Daley was inarticulate and often downright vague. His press conferences often left you wondering if he had been dropped on his head as a child. Stick a handgun up my where Mr. Mayor? Yes, he wanted to encourage more partnerships between the city and private enterprises. Millennium Park remains an advertisement of the success of that plan.
But....Daley delivered the goods. Like Millennium Park and its many free events. What have you done for us lately King Emanuel?
Well I can tell you what he hasn't done. He hasn't expanded city festivals. They are in fact getting smaller. He hasn't made full use of the cultural center. Most of it sits empty. The bread and circuses of the Daley reign are coming to an end and the natives are getting restless.
Exhibit A: The Teacher's Strike. Teacher's strikes aren't a new thing in Chicago. Before Richard M. Daley they were almost a regular occurrence. This one, however, had special meaning. Faced with Emanuel's push to expand charter schools, Chicago Teacher's Union members pushed back. They walked out for over a week and clogged the streets of downtown Chicago wearing bright red shirts and shouting back at the bully who tried to steal their lunch.
Exhibit B: The recent decision by Cook County Associate Judge Thomas More Donnelly to throw out the curfew violation convictions against 92 members of the Occupy movement. Emanuel has promised to appeal this decision but the Judge's argument is irrefutable. You can't allow one group to use the park after hours (i.e. Lollapalooza or President Obama's inauguration ceremony) and not another. It's public land. Remember?
Perhaps you should hire Daley as a personal consultant Mr. Mayor. He could teach a suburban kid such as yourself how Chicago works. Because right now, your roots are showing and you're a long way from the North Shore.