Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Monday he had a West Coast meeting with Airbnb and is working with the company on yet another idea he hopes will benefit the city.
Emanuel talked about his struggle to regulate the new sharing economy, which includes home-sharing and ride-sharing, during a candid address at a “View from the Top” event at Stanford University’s School of Business.
“I said to the hotel industry, ‘They’re here. We’re not keeping them out.’ The question is what are the rules they’re gonna operate under,” he said. “So, we did something which I’m really proud of. I put a 4 percent surtax for homelessness. And we now raise $2.5 million to $3 million. Beyond the 16 percent tax that all hotels pay and Airbnb pays, there’s a 4 percent surtax just for homeless service.”
Emanuel initially talked about meeting with Uber during his trip to California. But his spokesman later said the mayor misspoke and actually met with Airbnb.
Emanuel said, “We’ve discussed today something new which no other city is gonna do, which we’re gonna try. I can’t say it now because I’ve got to work something out. But I’m confident I will. You’ll be the first to know.”
Emanuel then sounded a bit like President Donald Trump when he talked about the art of the deal in the mayor’s office.
That goes from dealing with private companies to negotiating a new contract with the Chicago Teachers Union.
“The hotel industry wanted to throttle Airbnb. [But] nobody signs on to a loss. Nobody willingly. . . . I always before we negotiate draw out on a piece of paper, their wins, my wins. Can I give ’em what I think are their wins. Can they give me my wins? And then, how close are we to that kind of ideal paper at the beginning when we get to the end,” the mayor said.
“We did it recently with the teachers. There are things in there the teachers can claim to their members they won fair and square. Not a problem,” he said. “There’s things we won fair and square. Otherwise, it’s not a very good negotiation or a contract. If you try to make the other side lose, it’s not usually a good way to get a deal done and they won’t sign onto it. And if they do sign onto it, it’s because you crushed ’em. And trust me, they’re gonna come back and get you. What goes around comes around.”
Emanuel used one-time revenue to stave off another teachers strike: an $87.5 million tax-increment financing surplus that the mayor’s own City Council floor leader acknowledged is “not sustainable.”
As for the 2012 teachers strike, the city’s first in 25 years, the mayor had no regrets about taking that strike if that was the political price he needed to pay in exchange for a longer school day and school year.
“You’ve got to, as a person, be comfortable with the fact that, sometimes, you’re going to take it in the shorts, but it’s worth you taking” the hit, he said.
“I took a week strike in the city. Wish I hadn’t. I’m not proud of it. But was it worth the hour and fifteen minutes of every day for every child and two weeks every year? . . . Yeah, it’s worth it. I’ll take a week’s strike and our kids now are leading the country in educational gains.”
Emanuel also said he plans to deliver a “major address” on Thursday to outline his plans for runways, rails and roadways on the fifth anniversary of a major infrastructure address.
In the video below, Mayor Rahm Emanuel speaks at the 11:13 mark.