Trump camp balks at removing ‘Trump Plaza’ Chicago street sign

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Downtown Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) wants to remove the honorary designation of “Trump Plaza” along Wabash outside Donald Trump’s Chicago hotel. | Sun-Times file photo

To pay back Donald Trump for his barbs against Chicago, Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) is leading the drive to remove the “Trump Plaza” honorary street sign on Wabash Avenue — a move a Trump spokesman said Thursday was not the best use of the downtown alderman’s time.

“Ald. Reilly should spend his time focused on economic growth, educational choice, and safer streets for Chicago children instead of worrying about the signs above those streets,” Steve Cortes, a Chicago businessman who is a member of the Trump National Hispanic Advisory Council, told the Chicago Sun-Times in an email.

The City Council passed an ordinance approving the “Trump Plaza” sign on the “east side of North Wabash Avenue from East Illinois Street to the main branch of the Chicago River” on June 28, 2006. The brown sign, hanging under the green Wabash official street sign, is near the Trump International Hotel and Tower at 405 N. Wabash.

Honorary Trump Plaza sign on Wabash Street. | Santiago Covarrubias/Sun-Times

Honorary Trump Plaza sign on Wabash Street. | Santiago Covarrubias/Sun-Times

But now Reilly has lined up almost every member of the City Council in support of his resolution to punish Trump, 42 of the 50 aldermen as of Thursday afternoon, according to city records.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel backs the move, adding in a quip, “We’ll put the sign back up” when GOP presidential nominee Trump releases his tax returns.

Trump’s “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,” Reilly said on Wednesday. “But his decision to drag us into this campaign and mischaracterize it, paint a very distorted caricature of Chicago is a mistake.”

Trump compared Chicago to a “war-torn country” during his first  presidential debate with Hillary Clinton, who is backed by Emanuel. Trump has increasingly been talking about Chicago’s murder woes since the Republican convention in Cleveland in July, focusing on crime in Chicago because it’s President Barack Obama’s adopted hometown.

Reilly said he is seeking the resolution to be put on the City Council Oct. 25 agenda.

Cortes, who appears often on news shows as a Trump campaign surrogate, said Reilly’s resolution is way off base.

“As a two decade city resident and proud Chicagoan I bristle at criticisms of our city from outsiders,” Cortes said. “But the sad on-the-ground reality is that decades of corrupt, one-party domination of Chicago have created a city that is both unsafe and in dire financial straits.”

Reilly countered, “I’d encourage Mr. Cortes to look around downtown Chicago’s 42nd Ward and then lecture me some more about focusing on economic development.

“We have dozens of construction cranes in the air, with thousands of construction workers on those sites. Developers are knocking down my door to propose new office, hotel and residential buildings downtown.

“Chicago is setting visitor and tourism records — with more than 50 million coming to Chicago last year alone. Our retail vacancy rates are lower than they’ve been in a long time. We’re the fastest growing tech hub in the nation. Some of the fastest growing zip codes in the country are located downtown.

“That may not fit Mr. Trump’s trash-talking narrative, but those are facts. That said, “facts” have been in short supply on the Trump Campaign,” Reilly said.

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