Chicago summer will turn up heat on Mayor Emanuel
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It’s summertime, but the livin’ in Chicago ain’t gonna be easy.
Especially for Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
As Memorial Day kicks off the city’s unofficial summer season, Emanuel sits on the hottest of hot seats.
He already has at least nine opponents on the attack in the 2019 mayoral election campaign. It seems everyone’s mad at him, and arguing that “Rahm must go.”
It’s a motley crew of critics: Groups like Black Lives Matter, the Fraternal Order of Police, Chicago Teachers Union, progressive aldermen, and preservation groups, like Friends of the Parks. Even old Emanuel allies, like the Rev. Michael Pfleger, pastor of St. Sabina Church, are throwing hot potatoes his way.
The mayor’s troubles were in Technicolor view last week as hundreds of critics from the left, right and in between descended on City Hall to protest his policies.
The FOP is demanding a new contract and more respect for their rank and file. The #NoCopAcademy movement decries Emanuel’s pitch to build a $95 million police academy. Parks and economic development advocates are steamed over his plan for the Obama Presidential Center.
It’s even hotter outside. Chicago summers can inspire delight, and dread. The tourists frolic on Navy Pier and in Millennium Park. On the city’s South and West sides, families huddle in fear when the gangbangers and gun-toters come out to play. As the temperature rises, so does the mayhem.
The dread is spreading. Reliable Emanuel voters, middle- and upper middle-class voters in the South Loop, north lakefront and the gentrifying Northwest Side, are irate about the persistent spate of carjackings and street muggings close to home.
This summer will host sizzling court trials involving allegations of deadly police misconduct. There’s plenty of hot water there, and Emanuel is stuck in the deep end of the pool.
The wrongful death trial in the police shootings of Quintonio LeGrier and Bettie Jones is scheduled for early June. On the day after Christmas in 2015, LeGrier and Jones were fatally shot at their West Side apartment building by Police Officer Robert Rialmo. Emanuel and Police Supt. Eddie Johnson gave depositions in the run-up to the trial. Their testimony will be made public, and could be damaging.
The big heater case is the murder trial of Police Officer Jason Van Dyke in the shooting death of young Laquan McDonald. Expected to commence this summer, it’s sure to draw national media attention and revive the suspicion of some that Emanuel was involved in a police cover-up.
Instead of spending fun in the sun, Emanuel will be fending off other brickbats, like the new study by the University of Illinois Political Science Department that found that Chicago is “the most corrupt city in the country.” And the new U.S. Census numbers report the city has lost population for the third year in a row.
How will Emanuel handle the heat? Some political insiders speculate that if his poll numbers don’t turn up soon, he may call it quits, and decline to run for a third term.
I expect he will keep his cool and carry on. Alas, his controlled, bloodless style may be part of the problem.
My advice to the mayor: Get outta town. Take a long, long, long summer vacation to a more relaxing spot.
How about North Korea?
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