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Just two big-shot hires win Mayor Emanuel major political support

Ald. Walter Burnett (27th) was among a group of six aldermen endorsing the Mayor Rahm Emanuel for re-election, even though Emanuel has not yet decided whether to seek a third term. Burnett is flanked by Ald. Michael Scott (24th) (left) and Ald. Carrie Austin (34th) (right). | Fran Spielman/Sun-Times

Two jobs.

That’s all it took to spur six black aldermen to convene a news conference last week, in praise of Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

OPINION

On Wednesday, the members of the Chicago City Council stepped up to the microphones to “thank” Emanuel for appointing African Americans to lead two major city agencies.

The aldermen — Michelle Harris (8th), Derrick Curtis (18th), Michael Scott (24th), Walter Burnett (27th), Carrie Austin (34th) and Emma Mitts (37th) — “are among Emanuel’s staunchest City Council supporters,” the Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman reported.

They praised the mayor for moving quickly to replace Water Department Commissioner Barrett Murphy, who resigned in the wake of allegations of racist, sexist and homophobic emails that circulated in the department.

Emanuel replaced Murphy with Randy Conner, an African-American, and appointed Samantha Fields to replace departing budget director Alexandra Holt.

“We’re here to say `thank you’ — to say that it’s a job well done, but it is not a job finished,” Scott was quoted as saying. “We want to continue moving African-Americans up the ranks through this city.”

Not just two jobs. Two big-shot jobs. These appointees are highly-paid, highly-employable bureaucrats in service of the mayor.

Speaking of jobs, Illinois now enjoys the dubious distinction of having the highest black unemployment rate in the nation, according to a new report from the Illinois Policy Institute.

In 2016, African Americans suffered a 12.7 percent jobless rate, compared with Latinos at 6.7 percent and 5 percent for white residents.

Only 51 percent of black adults in Illinois had some type of employment, shows the Institute’s analysis of data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Most probably live in black Chicago, in the same West Side and South Side neighborhoods those aldermen serve.

I wonder if the aldermen asked their constituents how they felt about that study? And what do they think about the tsunami of troubles for black Chicago? African Americans are on the receiving end of seemingly chronic police misconduct and abuse cases, vividly personified by the heinous police shooting of Laquan McDonald.

Black Chicago suffers most from violent, murderous street crime, expressway shootings and carjackings. Our children are hostage to a public school system that is flirting with bankruptcy.

Yet, apparently, black Chicago has come such a long way that some aldermen are already endorsing Emanuel for reelection.

The man hasn’t even said he will seek a third term.

At the press conference, Austin said Emanuel should get credit where credit is due. “When he does something negative, nobody is short on printing that. But when he does something positive, everything is silent,” she was quoted as saying. “So we felt that we should be the ones to speak out when he has done something forward-thinking.”

Can’t we do better than two big-shot jobs?

How about enacting more effective policies and legislation that will address the vast needs of their neighborhoods? Now?

Instead of issuing meaningless endorsements, how about getting in the mayor’s face? How about pounding the podium, every day, in outrage at the poverty, violence and hopelessness so many of their constituents live with, every day? And demanding resources from Springfield and Washington?

How about remembering who you work for?