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Fresh from a Saharan Desert holiday where he says he and his family rode camels and slept in tents, Gov. Bruce Rauner did nothing Monday to quell the shifting sands beneath Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Rauner told reporters he would sign a bill allowing Chicago voters to recall their mayor from office if it reaches his desk.

The governor also said he was “very disappointed” in Emanuel and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez over their handling of Chicago police misconduct cases.

Perhaps more important, Rauner reiterated that he will stand firm against providing increased financial assistance to Chicago Public Schools until Emanuel and Chicago Democrats help him achieve his legislative goals, even as he predicted that financial “disaster” at CPS is now only months away.

It was quite the rousing start to the New Year from the governor, who clearly got more rest on his Moroccan luxury camping trip than did Emanuel on his visit to Cuba — despite the state’s own daunting problems.

OPINION


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Rauner met with reporters to unveil a new report from his Task Force on Local Government Consolidation and Unfunded Mandates that he expects to provide cover for his efforts to undermine collective bargaining for public employees.

But he upstaged the report with his comments on Emanuel and the city’s financial problems.

Rauner’s upbeat assessment of his own prospects for success in 2016 seemed clearly predicated on the notion that Chicago will be the first to cry uncle when the need for school funding overcomes city Democrats’ aversion to his political aims.

“One of the reasons I’m cautiously optimistic we can get some reforms is because, you know what, Chicago has been so financially mismanaged,” Rauner said.

Toward that end, Rauner showed he will not let Emanuel’s crisis in public confidence go to waste, especially if the plight of the newly weakened mayor can be turned to the governor’s advantage in Springfield.

Asked about state Rep. La Shawn Ford’s legislation that would allow Chicago voters to attempt recall the mayor, Rauner said he hasn’t studied the bill but based on what he’s been told about it, “I would sign that bill.”

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Illinois considers allowing recall attempts of Chicago mayor

The governor went on to say that he would also be “broadly supportive of the recall concept in general for all elected officials in the state. … That would be the best bill to pass.”

Rauner said he has been advised any such legislation could not apply to current elected officials. That might tamp down the implication that he was taking a swipe at Emanuel, but you know that Emanuel doesn’t want the Legislature to pass such a bill.

The governor declined to expand on his disappointment with Emanuel and Alvarez, noting that there is now a federal investigation.

Rauner was more clearly aiming at the mayor’s jugular with his comments on the city’s problems and the prospects of getting help from the state.

“Let’s be clear, Chicago Public Schools are in dramatic trouble, as is the city, but the schools are worse,” he said.

“The mayor will attempt to blame Springfield and say Springfield owes it to us to send us lots of cash. That is fundamentally wrong, fundamentally not true,” Rauner said, arguing CPS already receives more than its fair share of state education dollars.

CPS has a different take on that, which we will explore on another day, but for now what’s important is to understand that the governor doesn’t plan to give unless he gets.

“We’ll work together cooperatively if the city is helping us reform the state,” Rauner said. “If the city is opposing reform for the state, which so far they are, or staying silent and letting the Speaker block reform, no, I’m sorry. We’re doing things to help the city of Chicago, as much as I would like to.”

He always throws in a line about how much he would like to help the city, just so we don’t get the idea he doesn’t like us.

Why can Rauner accomplish in 2016 all that he could not in 2015, starting with a state budget?

“Frankly, there is a lot of impetus, a lot of pressure,” Rauner said.

And he’s only too happy to add to the pressure.

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Consolidation/Unfunded Mandates Task Force Report