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During a 30-minute radio address Monday billed as a “town hall,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel touted economic development, rehashed plans he rolled out two months ago to fight crime and said Chicago would remain a “sanctuary city” for immigrants. Former anchorman Bill Kurtis (left) read questions submitted by residents via Twitter. | Provided photo

Rahm’s radio ‘town hall’ at ‘undisclosed’ site a friendly affair

SHARE Rahm’s radio ‘town hall’ at ‘undisclosed’ site a friendly affair
SHARE Rahm’s radio ‘town hall’ at ‘undisclosed’ site a friendly affair

During a 30-minute radio address Monday billed as a “town hall,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel touted economic development, rehashed plans he rolled out two months ago to fight crime and said Chicago would remain a “sanctuary city” for immigrants even after Donald Trump is sworn in as president.

The much-hyped broadcast, which aired commercial-free from 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on radio stations across the city, was an exceedingly friendly question-and-answer session with former anchorman Bill Kurtis reading questions submitted by residents via Twitter.

Kurtis set the tone, opening with a question of his own, asking how the mayor felt about the 44 new buildings erected in Chicago during Emanuel’s reign, and the Cubs’ World Series victory.

But Kurtis’ next question was about the 17 people killed and 42 shot across the city over the weekend of the Cubs’ World Series home stand, and what Emanuel intended to do to quell a surge in violent crime in the city that began last fall.

Emanuel offered up the multi-pronged plan he unveiled to much fanfare in September: hire more police; push Springfield for longer prison sentences for repeat gun offenders; and expand economic and mentoring opportunities for youth in the most violence-plagued neighborhoods.

“These kids are just yearning, thirsting, hungering for that guidance that a mentor can provide them,” Emanuel said. “These young men want to do right.”

Emanuel talked about speaking to parents of murder victims, and about the need for police to connect with residents, but made no mention of an ongoing federal investigation of civil rights abuses by Chicago Police or about protests that began just under a year ago after the city released video of Laquan McDonald being gunned down by 16 shots fired by CPD Officer Jason Van Dyke.

During the half-hour, Emanuel unveiled no new initiatives, but gave a lengthy list of accomplishments by his administration, ranging from corporations that have moved their headquarters into city limits, taking steps to close a $620 million budget deficit, and investments in struggling neighborhoods.

Emanuel also amplified remarks made earlier Monday, affirming his dedication to protecting immigrants living in the city and speaking at length about the immigrant journeys of his grandfather and father. In an interview on “60 Minutes” that aired Sunday, Trump said he intended to deport “probably 2 million” immigrants with criminal records, and has taken hard-line positions on illegal immigration throughout his campaign.

Emanuel said that Chicago, like New York, Los Angeles, and other major cities, will remain a “sanctuary city”— meaning city employees, including police, will not question residents about their immigration status— even if Trump threatens to cut the flow of federal funds.

“If you decide you want to go after immigrants if you want to attack cities, I’ll fight that,” Emanuel said.

The broadcast was taped at an “undisclosed” location, not made known even to members of the press, though it was not clear if that was at the behest of the mayor or the organizers, the industry trade group the Radio Broadcasters of Chicagoland. Kurtis also introduced top members of Emanuel’s administration at the start of the broadcast, and later seemed to reference the presence of “radio executives” among the audience for the event.

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