Carol Marin: Whatever happened to Rahm the Reformer?

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Follow @CarolMarinIn his bid for re-election, Rahm Emanuel slipped into a fuzzy sweater and a softer “I hear you” style.Yes, he’d made mistakes. Bashing the teachers. Closing schools in poor communities while building new ones — plus opening more charters — in wealthier, whiter places. Refusing to admit his speed cameras were really a revenue grab more than they were “for the children” and public safety.In the campaign of 2015, the mayor assured us, sitting beside his ever-present water bottle, that he was really listening.


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But for Emanuel, it’s never been about listening so much as it has been about controlling the narrative so that we heard only what he was willing to tell us. Not what we asked to know. Five years of reporter battles with his administration over access to public documents establish that fact.

Friends of Emanuel vehemently insist that the horror of the police execution of Laquan McDonald in October of 2014 and the failure to acknowledge its horror until just days after the mayor won another term had nothing, truly nothing, to do with winning re-election.

I’ve been around this town a long time.

Nobody in the administration — not the cops, not the city law department, not the mayor’s staff — needed to be told that the Laquan McDonald killing was a monumental problem. Particularly in the wake of anti-police demonstrations in Ferguson, Missouri and riots in other violence ravaged urban areas.

Emails obtained by NBC5 through the Freedom of Information Act make it clear the fifth floor of City Hall was keeping a careful eye on this case long before most of the general public even knew it existed.

Emanuel’s defenders point to the fact — and it is a fact — that the Laquan McDonald investigation was handled like all police investigations have been handled for decades.

With no release of evidence.

And, a settlement predicated on no admission of wrongdoing by the city.

It’s the way Mayor Richard M. Daley always did it.

But isn’t Rahm the Reformer?

Emanuel is smart. Tone deaf, often, control freak always, yet very smart.

However, his core belief in never allowing a good crisis go to waste needs rebooting. He can’t wait for a blue ribbon commission to make recommendations. Or for the Justice Department to swat in at CPD.

Emanuel and his staff and his supporters can claim all they want that the LaQuan McDonald settlement was in no way tied to his 2015 election.  How can you and I test that assertion?

Well, we can’t.

We can’t because the mayor and his law department went all the way to the Illinois Supreme Court to fight the city’s inspector general — or anyone else — from seeing settlement files. They claim it’s not available to reporters, citizens or even City Council members  because of “attorney/client privilege.”

In this case, the attorney is Steve Patton, the taxpayer-funded city attorney.

And the client is — yes, you guessed it — Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

So mayor, let’s see the settlement emails, notes and agreements.

And then we’ll decide if this was — or was not — justice delayed in behalf of your re-election run.

Email: cmarin@suntimes.comFollow Carol Marin on Twitter: @CarolMarin

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