The city of Chicago is in need of strong leadership and we believe Rahm Emanuel is right for the job. From gun violence to the budget crisis, the city requires a no nonsense mayor who can help move Chicago forward.
Like any other large city, one of Chicago’s greatest challenges is resolving the problem of corruption. Corruption leads to abuse of power, to waste and fraud and in the end, the people who suffer most, are those already living in underserved communities, many of whom are Black.
Although corruption comes in different shapes and forms, it arises in the Black community when so-called “front” companies eat away at employment opportunities. Abuse of Chicago’s Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprise Certification process is well documented and severely hurts the upstart businesses it is supposed to help.
“Front” companies come about when minorities obtain contracts fraudulently. However, the more legitimate Black businesses there are in the community to employ residents, the greater an opportunity for job creation. In the end, that helps decrease high unemployment. Among counties in the nation, Cook County had the most Black-owned businesses with 83,733 accounting for 4.4 percent of all the nation’s Black-owned businesses and that’s a lot of opportunity when legitimately exercised.
Emanuel plans to eliminate the problem of so-called “front” companies by going after individuals who abuse the system and by barring them from receiving any city business for a decade. We think that’s a winning idea. Additionally, he plans to add transparency to the procurement process by hiring professionals to operate the Department of Procurement Services to guarantee that politics no longer play a role in the awarding of contracts.
Emanuel has also declared that if elected, his administration would fight to end corruption in City Hall and that he would sign an executive order excluding his appointees from lobbying the city for two years after leaving his administration. This will help reform the city’s hiring practices which for years have been blemished by illegal political patronage.
Emanuel also has the experience to get the job done. His work for the federal government where he served most recently as the White House Chief of Staff, we think, will be good for the city. Prior to the Obama appointment, Emanuel was a U.S. Congressman representing Chicago’s North side. In the totality, we think based on his background, however, he has the ability to bring all of Chicago together.
With recent polls showing Emanuel in the lead, he is receiving support from people all over the city. For example, a recent poll by the Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA)shows Emanuel leading the mayoral race with 58 percent. Gery Chico came in second at 24 percent, Miguel Del Valle at 10 percent and Carol Moseley Braun at percent.The latest IRMA is not the only poll indicating Emanuel is ahead. A recent ABC 7 poll showed Emanuel with a 54 percent lead and a Tribune poll with 49 percent.
Moreover, in the Black community, the importance of receiving a quality education is more important now than ever. In the end, it’s the only way little Black boys and little Black girls can overcome their greatest enemy—poverty. In August, the Schott Foundation for Public Education released a report where it revealed out of 48 states across the nation, Black males graduated at 47 percent in 2007-2008, which means less than half of nation’s Black males are receiving high school diplomas. The report also found that in Chicago only 44 percent of Black males are counted as high school graduates.
We like Emanuel’s plan to get the parents involved but we also like his ideas on reforming the educational system. If elected, he says he’ll focus on turning around high schools that account for 50% of Chicago’s dropouts. Community organizations, universities and other civic institutions will supply individuals to mentor and tutor students as well as provide job training and access to college courses.
He says he’ll also address educational disparities. As mayor, every public school will have a five year performance contract; principals will be empowered and also held accountable; and parents will be involved. For parents, Emanuel was inspired by 16-year-old “Jeremy” whom he met on the campaign trail. Jeremy had an afterschool program and was able to help keep the parents involved by asking them to sign written contracts memorializing their agreement to participate in their child’s learning experience. For parents who consent to signing these contracts, it’s another way to keep them involved because without their participation, city nor school officials can do it alone.
Emanuel appears to have a solid plan on fighting crime in Chicago but has pointed out that job creation is tied to ending violence in the city. He says economic development cannot occur without the reduction of crime and he’s proposed to put 1,000 additional cops on the streets followed by a three-year plan to reduce violent crime in blighted Tax Increment Financing (TIF) areas. The strategy will shrink crime rates by utilizing surplus TIF funds. This directive will strategically deploy 250 police officers in areas impacted by high crime rates. In an Emanuel administration, TIFs will be restored to their “original purpose” of serving blighted communities. In the end, that will spur job creation in the Black community when crime rates go down.
Additionally, Emanuel has a comprehensive food desert policy, a problem that affected 480,000 Black Chicagoans in 2009 according to the Chicago Reader. To help allay the problem, Emanuel says he wants to meet with grocers from across the city so that they can lay out a plan for the south and west side food deserts.
There is no doubt Emanuel can lead Chicago into the future. Based on his solid plans for pushing the city forward, his experience and strong leadership abilities, the Citizen Newspaper endorses Emanuel for mayor.