We always enjoy seeing President Clinton, and his recent visit to the city, to stump for mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel, did not disappoint: the bright smile, the energetic gait, and the southern charm were all very much in evidence.
Clinton’s appearance was well-publicized and anticipated, for his former employee. The endorsement, of course, was pure Clintonian, as he drawled, “If you want the WindyCityto have a gale force of leadership, Rahm Emanuel is your mayor.”
However, the remarks by the other candidates proved to be the gale force: Carol Moseley Braun quickly reminded the electorate that black people had stood behind the former president as he faced impeachment during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, and that his endorsement of Emanuel was a betrayal.
We were glad that the gloves were off and that the candidates were riled up enough at the former president’s appearance to hit the airwaves. And it was a real bonus to both see, and hear Emanuel, who previously had been coyly biding his public appearances, like a society bride, on the eve of the big day.
But, despite these utterances and accusations, we can’t help but feel that few of the candidates are really addressing the issues – with the exception of Braun who has repeatedly told television viewers, newspaper readers, and interviewers that the city must focus on education first, and foremost, as a precursor to job creation.
Braun emphasized to our colleague at the “Windy City Times” that her proudest accomplishment as senator was the “crumbling schools “initiative, which “got federal money into rebuilding our nation’s schools” and furthermore, that “the federal government puts in less than 8 percent of the cost of our school’s nationwide, so if we could get some help from the national government-even if it’s just to rebuild the national government.”
Emanuel, according to his website, wants to empower school principals, and create a Chicago Education Innovation Fund, modeled on the Race to the Top program, heralded by Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education, and former Chicagoschool superintendent.
Oddly enough, Mr. Chico, who has received the endorsement of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police, was former superintendent of Chicagopublic schools has said little in this regard. But, he said plenty in a news conference shortly after Mr. Clinton’s appearance, repeatedly stating, “Bill Clinton is not on the ballot, Bill Clinton doesn’t live in Chicago” before belatedly, and somewhat sheepishly, acknowledging his help on education issues.
Braun, to her credit, has also has stressed the importance of pensions in Illinois, and to stop the practice of raiding them for budgetary shortfalls, as the state did for the CTA a few years ago.
Recently, in a 95-18 vote in the house and 47 to 4in the Senate, the Illinoislegislature passed Senate Bill 3538 to enact much needed public safety pension reforms. But, is it enough?
Crime is still rampant, with many parts of the city under siege, and in the Uptown neighborhood, crime has seen an increase, even during these first few weeks of the New Year.
46thAldermanic candidate Michael Carroll recently noted in a press release that “. . . four days into the New Year, Uptown saw its first homicide.” And, shortly after that another murder was committed near Lawrenceand Kenmoreavenues, a main Uptown thoroughfare.
As a seven year veteran of the CPD, Carroll has committed himself to fighting crime in Uptown, and notes that Chicagopolice records indicate that the 21010 murder rate in the 23rdDistrict, where the homicide occurred, was up 400% from 2009, aggravated batteries up almost 25%, and aggravated assaults up 21%.”
Affordable housing continues to be an issue throughout the city, but has become a campaign issue in the 49thissue, with candidate Brian White supporting a TIFplan, christened a RIF,,to support landlords in exchange for rents frozen for a period of ten years.
The current incumbent, Joe Moore, says that the plan needed broad based support throughout the community; which he states that he does not see, and that the TIF laws, broadly written, would restrict the use of tax monies, citywide.
Meanwhile, Emanuel states that he would support TIF’s as part of the city budget, and per his website,“create a time-limited panel of economic development and financial experts to establish these best practices to accelerate job creation and will highlight TIF’s that should be shuttered.”
But, Braun states that she would place a moratorium on TIFS to help the city budget, already seriously in arrears; 519.7 million in the 2010 budget.
So, there is no dearth of issues, and no dearth of voices, but we would like to see more public utterances by Emanuel, less bombast by Chico, and a chance for Braun, who seems to have become the underdog in the mayoral race.
Today, however, the Illinois Appellate Court has ruled that Emanuel cannot be on next month’s ballot, in a 442-page ruling issued today, failing to meet the requirement of one year’s residency, despite the fact that the Chicago Board of Elections agreed with Emanuel last month that he was eligible to run for mayor.
What this means for both the election, and the other contender’s remains to be seen.
The case could go to appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court for adjudication.
With Emanuel leading a Chicago Tribune poll with 44% of expected voters, the other candidates, Chico, in particular can be expected to increase their public profile and platforms.
Meanwhile we can expect that the city’s political watchers, and pundits will be watching carefully. We, of course, will be watching intently.