Powerful people and average Joes are continuing to use Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s personal email to counsel, praise and lambast him, knowing full-well that their communications will be made public.
Private emails written to and from Emanuel during the months of January and February were released to the Chicago Sun-Times in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.
“I am so disgusted by this . . . state and city. I won’t stay much longer,” investment manager David Herro wrote in a Jan. 27 email at 2:25 a.m. to both Emanuel and his friend-turned-political adversary, Gov. Bruce Rauner. “Keep fighting and quit solving, as you all have been, and there will be no one left.
“GROW UP,” Herro concluded.
Herro is an investment manager who has donated heavily to Emanuel and a super PAC run by the mayor’s allies. Herro has also supplied the mayor with free transportation.
Former Chicago Public Schools CEO-turned-U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan also was in Emanuel’s inbox with an idea that the mayor took to heart.
“Think about making completing a FAFSA [financial aid application] and applying to two or three colleges or the military a new CPS graduation requirement,” Duncan wrote on Jan. 11. “Graduation rates continue to rise. This would signal the importance of ongoing education/training. A HS diploma is great, but not enough. No other school system I know of has taken this next step.”
A month later, after Duncan wrote again to talk about an “intensive tutoring program.” Emanuel replied, “Thanks. You know we are doing a version of your graduation requirement.”
Duncan replied, “Didn’t know. Good?”
Last week, Emanuel announced that, starting with the current freshman class, CPS will make “having a plan for post-secondary success” a graduation requirement.
That means that, in order to graduate, members of the Class of 2020 and beyond will have to present a letter of acceptance, either to a four-year college, a community college, the military, or a trade. Without a “post-high school education plan,” they won’t graduate.
Richard Sherman, an apparent city retiree, was on the warpath about a 2015 private email written by Emanuel pounding his chest about how the now-completed, three-year phase-out of city retiree health care coverage is taking center stage in the ongoing legal battle to restore the program and a 55 percent city subsidy.
“I eliminated retiree health care. Only elected official to eliminate — not cut or reform — a benefit. Thank you very much. A $175 million saving!” the mayor wrote in a 2015 email exchange with venture capitalist Henry Feinberg. Emanuel later said he “wasn’t bragging” as much as he was “acknowledging how we stabilized” skyrocketing health care costs.
Sherman didn’t buy it. In early January, he attached a copy of a Chicago Sun-Times story about the mayor’s denial, then wrote, “You, sir, are a liar.”
The mayor’s oft-repeated promise that Chicago “is and always will be” a sanctuary city also generated flak on Emanuel’s private email accounts — from both sides.
Mike Stapleton sided with President Donald Trump and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who have threatened to cut or even “claw back” Justice Department money flowing to sanctuary cities. Chicago stands to lose $13.4 million in federal anti-crime grants if Sessions follows through on the threat, according to City Hall.
“Your statement that Chicago should remain a sanctuary city needs to be reconsidered and revisited,” Stapleton wrote. “People in Chicago expect you to follow the law. This will be part of your demise. Wise up and understand how many people die in Chicago by criminal illegal immigrants.”
Daniel Woody took the opposite view and urged Emanuel to go even further than he already has.
“Let us make Chicago’s O’Hare Airport a model for the country,” Woody wrote. “If there can be sanctuary cities as a form of resistance to republican controlled government, can’t there also be sanctuary airports.
“Let it be known that we will not let the fear of retribution from Donald Trump stand in the way of Chicagoans standing up for immigrants and refugees. That is, Mr. Emanuel, help us to defy Trump’s executive order and continue to allow immigrants and refugees into the country through Chicago. . . . Be on the right side of history.”
In December, Emanuel acknowledged using a private email account to conduct official city business and released nearly 3,000 of those emails, ending a marathon legal battle that ran contrary to his promise to run a “transparent” administration. Going forward, Emanuel vowed to implement a new city policy that prohibits city employees from “using their private or other non-city email accounts for the transaction of public business.”
The policy was to be spelled out in writing to all city employees. It will instruct city employees that, if they receive an email pertaining to city business on a non-city account, the email must be promptly forwarded to the city email account. Failure to comply with the new policy “may subject the employee or officials to discipline.”
As part of the legal settlement, the mayor also promised to release quarterly reports on his private emails. The Sun-Times didn’t wait for the quarterly report.
Former Tribune Co. CEO Sam Zell, another mayoral contributor, was not a happy camper when he wrote a Jan. 7 email to Emanuel.
“I hope you read the article in today’s WSJ [Wall Street Journal] on the Pritzker School. Shameful!” Zell wrote.
Emanuel replied, “Have not gotten there. What story?”
Zell fired back, “Op Ed Page. No librarian. Parents volunteer union blocks access.
“Don’t we have enough bad PR?”