Downtown Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) moved Wednesday to punish Donald Trump for using a 50 percent spike in homicides and shootings to paint a “distorted caricature” of Chicago as a “decimated, war-torn country.”
If the full City Council goes along with the idea, the Republican presidential nominee would be stripped of a recognition he covets: “Trump Plaza,” the honorary designation approved for the east side of Wabash Avenue between Illinois Street and the main branch of the Chicago River.
Reilly says Trump no longer deserves the honor after making political hay at Chicago’s expense in a way that has damaged the city’s reputation on the global stage.
Trump’s decision to portray Chicago as a “war zone” that needs stop-and-frisk during the first presidential debate was the final straw.
Like Trump, Reilly tweets incessantly, often to promote his fellow Democrats. But the aldermen insisted that his motives for retaliating against Trump are not political. And besides, Trump started this fight.
“His divisive comments about various segments of Chicago society, whether you’re a Latino, another minority, an immigrant, a woman. That in and of itself is offensive. But his decision to drag us into this campaign and mischaracterize it, paint a very distorted caricature of Chicago is a mistake,” Reilly said.
“We reserve these honorary street signs for special Chicagoans who help lift up this city and move us forward. And most of what he’s doing is disparaging us, our reputation and, frankly, negatively impacting our tourism economy and other critical investments in this city. To make the city of Chicago a campaign issue front and center on the national stage is damaging to this city. And it’s very disappointing.”
Reilly acknowledged that Chicago “has its share of challenges” to control the never-ending gang violence that has the city making headlines again as the murder capital of the nation, if not the world.
“That should not be a disincentive for people to visit here, spend their money here, create jobs here and move their corporate headquarters here,” he said.
In December 2010, Trump contributed $50,000 to Mayor Rahm Emanuel and $5,000 to Reilly.
That was two years after the opening of the 96-story Trump International Hotel & Tower along the Chicago River adorned with a massive “TRUMP” sign that the mayor and Reilly considered so garish and tasteless, they moved to rein in future signs along the river.
On Wednesday, Reilly was asked about the hypocrisy of accepting Trump’s money, only to bite the hand that feeds him.
“I’m happy to send that right back to him as soon as this campaign is over,” the alderman said. “I’ll be sending it back to him with his honorary street sign.”
Emanuel refused to say whether he supports Reilly in stripping Trump of the Trump Plaza designation.
“We’ll put the sign back up when he releases his tax returns,” joked Emanuel, a lifelong Democrat who was one of Hillary Clinton’s earliest supporters.
Turning serious, the mayor portrayed Trump as a hypocrite.
“He made an investment in Chicago because he sees a city that’s strong and on the move. He made an investment that he’s all proud of because he sees a very strong city — a city that’s creating jobs, a city that’s also been a leader on educational gains for its students, a city that’s a leader in its economy and jobs and the diversity of its economy. And we are also gonna be a leader in facing up to our challenges,” the mayor said.
Referring to stop-and-frisk, Emanuel said, “The recommendation he’s making is not only unconstitutional, it doesn’t build on what every police officer will tell you is important. And any superintendent will tell you, including William Bratton from New York, that community support of police is important.”