Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the new City Council will be sworn in at the Chicago Theatre on May 18, culminating an “inauguration weekend” that, once again, includes a citywide day of community service.
“The inauguration is a time to reflect on the hard work we’ve done but also to look ahead to the opportunities we have as a city,” Emanuel was quoted as saying in a news release.
“I look forward to joining Chicagoans for a weekend of activities, including opportunities for community service and entertainment in neighborhoods across the city, and then sharing my thoughts on how we can continue to come together to make our city the best place to get a great public education, find a good-paying job and raise a family.”
The festivities mirror the prelude to Emanuel’s 2011 inauguration at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. The Chicago Theatre’s officially seats 3,880; the Pritzker Pavilion has 4,000 fixed seats and room for 7,000 more on the lawn.
It will start with a Saturday “Day of Service” at locations across the city in all 50 wards. Chicagoans willing to roll up their sleeves and get to work will be able to volunteer to paint a school, clean a park or clear a vacant lot.
The smorgasbord of service projects is expected to be posted later this week on the official inauguration website.
The Saturday “Day of Service” will be followed by a Sunday “Night Out in the Parks,” courtesy of the Chicago Park District. Neighborhood parks across the city will feature theater, dance and other cultural events.
The swearing-in ceremony for the mayor, city clerk, treasurer and all 50 aldermen will take place 10:30 a.m. May 18 at the Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State. The event is open to the public. Go to cic2015.org for tickets to the Chicago Theatre ceremony and information on the service and park events.
Once again, the mayor and his wife, Amy Rule, will hold an open house at City Hall from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on the day of the inauguration. Lobbyists, developers, power-brokers and everyday Chicagoans can stand in line to shake Emanuel’s hand and whisper in his ear in the mayor’s fifth-floor office.
The open-house tradition goes back decades.
Emanuel’s second inaugural address is expected to deliver or at least allude to the tough medicine that will be needed to solve a combined, $30 billion pension crisis at the city and public schools that has dropped Chicago’s bond rating to just two levels above junk status.
In December, Chicago must decide how to meet a state-mandated, $550 million payment to shore up police and fire pension funds. The mayor must also decide how to erase a $415 million operating shortfall and meet $50 million in annual payments going forward to save the Municipal and Laborers Pension funds when a 56 percent increase in the telephone tax that averted a pre-election property tax hike falls short.
As if that isn’t enough of a headache, the Chicago Public Schools face a $1.1 billion shortfall and a $9.5 billion teacher pension crisis.
Still, City Clerk Susana Mendoza, who co-chaired Emanuel’s re-election campaign, is looking forward to the festivities.
“Inauguration day is an opportunity to reflect on the trust and faith that the people of our great city have given us as public servants,” Mendoza was quoted as saying in the news release.
“We face many challenges, but I look forward to working with the mayor, members of the City Council, and with our greatest asset — Chicagoans — to overcome those challenges and continue making Chicago the greatest city in the world.”
City Treasurer Kurt Summers, who was appointed by Emanuel, then elected without opposition, added: “The inauguration is about the people of Chicago and the opportunity to look toward the brighter future we can create together for every neighborhood in this city. I am honored to join our newly elected leaders as we work to transform the treasurer’s office by investing in and being accountable to the residents of Chicago like never before.”