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.
by Thelma Sardin
With less than a week left until the 2011 Chicago Municipal Elections, the mayoral race is picking up speed. On Sunday, Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL-4) stumped for Gery Chico and Dr. Cornel West campaigned for Carol Moseley Braun. On Saturday, Chico picked up two endorsements from Cook County Democratic Women and a coalition of African American ministers. Braun picked up an endorsement from Rainbow PUSH.
Last week, all six mayoral candidates appeared in two important community forums. On Thursday night, FOX Chicago, the Chicago Urban League and Harriet’s Daughters presented a debate at Kennedy King College. The candidates gave their platforms on jobs, education and crime.
Chico explained why he thought Rahm Emanuel would not be able to create crime fighting strategies for the city. “I think growing up in our city like I did in the Back of the Yards, living with threat of violence stays with you. People like Mr. Emanuel, who grew up in wealthy North Shore, probably never experience that. It makes it harder to come to grips to come up with a plan to combat this,” Chico said.
When asked his position on putting extra police officers in areas with the highest crime rates, Emanuel replied he has proposed to add 1,000 extra cops to the streets.
Carol Moseley Braun referred to Emanuel’s congressional record when asked a question about disparities in health for minorities.
“When in Congress, Mr. Emanuel voted against funding for a national center on minority health and health disparities,” Braun said.
While Emanuel did not respond to Braun’s remarks directly, in his closing statement he said his focus was to tackle the issues and not criticize opponents.
City Clerk Miguel Del Valle answered the first question posed to the candidates that inquired if any of them had ever been unemployed. Del Valle said he did not have a job after college and understands firsthand the plight of not having a job.
Patricia Van Pelt-Watkins and William “Dock” Walls both support a public school superintendent that has education experience and an elected school board instead of the current system of a chief executive officer with a business background.
by Thelma Sardin
At his downtown campaign office on Thursday afternoon, mayoral hopeful Rahm Emanuel sat down with about a dozen journalists from local community newspapers in Chicago. The round table discussion is a part of Emanuel’s ongoing attempt to ensure community media outlets have access to him. He first began sitting down with the community press after being elected to Congress representing Chicago’s 5th district.
During the discussion, Emanuel took questions from the journalists and discussed three key things the next mayor must focus on. Education, safe streets and a stable economy are among the items Emanuel said are essential to Chicago. “…You’ve got to get those things right,” he told the reporters.
Actively involved in President Clinton’s 1994 crime strategy, Emanuel has a plan to put 1,000 more beat cops on the street if he is elected. According to his crime agenda which he presented on Jan. 9, more police on Chicago’s streets can develop better relationships between law enforcement and communities. Essentially, police will have a presence in the community and will not only be symbolic of emergency situations.
The Citizen asked Emanuel what his plans were to combat gang violence in schools.
He proposes to end gang violence by implementing a comprehensive after school program for public school students. In this policy, Emanuel hopes to educate to end youth violence. The program will run five days a week for two and a half hours per day.
“I don’t care if that kid wants to do athletic, artistic, or academic [activities]…,” Emanuel told the Citizen. He continued by saying with adult supervision, children will not be lured into gang activity and will have lower chances of becoming a victim of a gang fatality.
Also on Thursday, Emanuel announced his plans to overhaul the CTA’s Red Line if he is elected. “Rahm’s first transit priority will be a complete overhaul of the Red Line: rebuilding deteriorating tracks south to 95thStreet, extending the line south to 130th and renovating and modernizing Red Line stations and track north of Belmont,” his campaign said in a statement.
Emanuel admits his campaign is not built on promises. “I won’t pledge to you something I don’t think I can do,” he said
by Thelma Sardin
Mayoral hopeful Rahm Emanuel revealed his crime proposal in Roseland on Sunday afternoon. He delivered his anti- crime plan at Kids Off the Block located on 116th and Michigan flanked by law enforcement officials, neighborhood leaders and community activists. He was introduced by Annette Nance Holt, mother of slain teen Blair Holt, who was shot and killed on a CTA bus in Roseland in 2007 while trying to shield a classmate.
Among the plan’s selling points, Emanuel is calling for 1000 additional officers on Chicago’s streets. If elected, he would also appoint a new police superintendent and crack down on police brutality. “I’m looking for a Superintendent who instills a new confidence in the rank and file. My message to our cops is simple: you think with your nightstick, and you’ll be held accountable. You think with your head and practice what you were trained to do, and I’ve got your back,” Emanuel said.
Emanuel also wants to use $25 million in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funds to put an additional 250 police officers on the streets of the most violent communities. According to his campaign, Emanuel plans to achieve this with a three-year strategy to drive down the violent crime rate in these areas by using excess TIF funds that are intended to promote economic development in each location. This strategy would add 250 police officers to specialized units that are strategically deployed to target crime in and around TIFs that are impacted by high crime rates.
Also on Sunday, Gery Chico, another major mayoral contender received an endorsement from Congressman Luis Gutierrez (4th Dist.) At a news conference at the National Museum of Mexican Art, Gutierrez spoke of Chico’s relevant experience to be Chicago’s next mayor. “Every time Gery was called to serve the people of Chicago, he delivered,” Gutierrez said. “No other candidate has balanced 16 budgets. No other candidate has built bridges across racial, ethnic and geographic lines like Gery has. Gery Chico is simply the best candidate to lead Chicago right now.”
Gutierrez worked with Chico when he served as Mayor Daley’s chief of staff and Gutierrez was a city alderman. According to Chico’s campaign, Gutierrez said Chico was “hands-on” and always a “step ahead” when it came to meeting the needs of Chicago’s neighborhoods.
Former U.S. Senator Carol Moseley Braun and City Clerk Miguel del Valle are the other two major candidates in the city’s mayoral race.
by Thelma Sardin
CHICAGO – On Tuesday, Rahm Emanuel appeared before the Chicago Board of Elections for an evidentiary hearing. Emanuel’s attorneys released hundreds of documents ahead of the hearing where the former White House chief of staff testified about whether he’s eligible to run for mayor. Those documents included Emanuel’s birth certificate from a Chicago hospital, bills and tax returns. Because the hearing was only moving to the evidentiary stage, the Chicago Board of Elections declined to comment.
Emanuel is trying to fend off challenges that he isn’t eligible to run for mayor because he hasn’t been a resident for a year. He lived in Washington while working for President Barack Obama and returned to Chicago in October after Mayor Richard Daley said he wouldn’t seek a seventh term.
The documents released before the hearing also included emails between Emanuel’s wife, Amy Rule, and a real estate agent who helped the couple lease their house. One email from Rule insists that there’s no option for anyone to purchase the house.
Emanuel’s campaign spokesman, Ben LaBolt, told the Citizen that he could not share information about the hearing because it was expected to run into Wednesday. LaBolt, however, outlined the facts surrounding Emanuel’s residency.
“Rahm has owned a house in Chicago since 1998. His car is registered in Chicago, he is registered to vote in Chicago, and he pays property and income taxes in Chicago. The only reason he left Chicago is to serve President Obama. And Illinois law is clear that he didn’t lose his residency: he was always clear that he would return to Chicago once his service to the President was complete,” LaBolt stated. He continued, “Rahm believes that voters should have the right to vote for or against him. And he believes that they will make their decision based on who they view as the best candidate to address the challenges facing the city — the need for safe streets, strong schools, and stable city finances — and not be diverted by political sideshows.”
In response to reports that Emanuel changed his residency status on his 2009 tax return, LaBolt explained, “DC law requires payment of DC income tax by individuals present in DC for 183 or more days even if they are residents of another state. Rahm’s tax return makes clear that he always remained a Chicago resident and continued to pay income taxes in Chicago in 2010, in addition to property taxes, maintaining car and voter registration in Chicago and being clear that he intended to return to Chicago once his service to President Obama was complete. Rahm’s accountant prepared the 09 tax return,” LaBolt said. “When Rahm became aware of the mistake he corrected it,” he added in an email to the Citizen.