The on-again-off-again political alliance between two retiring Democratic powerhouses — Mayor Rahm Emanuel and U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez — is back off again — but not for the reasons you might think.
Gutierrez said he’s not angry at the lame-duck mayor for taking sides against his daughter and going all-out to re-elect Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30th), who has done the heavy lifting for Emanuel on the volatile issue of police reform.
It’s just that while following through on his promise to knock on 2,000 doors to help elect his daughter, Gutierrez has gotten an earful from 30th Ward residents about just how furious they are at Emanuel and just how oppressive his taxes, fines and fees have been.
“People are so under water because of the property tax, because of red-light cameras. … People are suffering. We live a tale of two cities. They feel the mayor has politicized the Police Department. … I have learned from my conversations … how terribly unpopular he is in the bungalow neighborhoods,” Gutierrez said Tuesday.
“They’re angry that people downtown don’t pay the same taxes that they pay on their bungalows. They feel that downtown is getting too much attention. You know what one lady said to me yesterday? `That’s really nice that they’re building a new school. But every child should be able to go to an excellent high school.’ They don’t feel that that’s happening. They feel there are winners and losers in the public education system. I never quite grasped the frustration and anger.”
Before leaving office, Emanuel has vowed to do whatever it takes to help re-elect the aldermen who have helped him push through an avalanche of tax increases — on property, telephone and water and sewer bills — just to begin to solve Chicago’s $28 billion pension crisis.
That’s especially true for Reboyras, the Public Safety committee chairman who has demonstrated his loyalty most recently by attempting to forge an elusive compromise on the no-win issue of civilian police review.
Gutierrez said he doesn’t blame the mayor for sticking with Reboyras. He welcomes that political loyalty because it will only benefit Jessica.
“I will let everyone who supports my daughter … know the mayor is spending money and precinct workers and doing everything he can to elect Reboyras. … I look forward to seeing the posters that say Rahm Emanuel and Reboyras. People are tired of a mayor who dictates and tells aldermen what to do,” he said.
“If you want to run in the 30th Ward on your loyalty to the mayor, I say good luck. I’m happy he’s not running for re-election as mayor and that we have an opportunity now to set a new course.”
Reboyras could not be reached for comment. The mayor’s office had no immediate comment.
Tuesday’s broadside marks the latest twist in the complicated relationship between Emanuel and Gutierrez.
During the mayor’s days as White House chief of staff, Gutierrez accused Emanuel of standing in the way of immigration reform and being singularly responsible for President Barack Obama’s failure to deliver on his campaign promise to Hispanics.
Gutierrez retaliated by endorsing mayoral candidate Gery Chico over Emanuel in 2011.
Four years later, Gutierrez co-chaired Emanuel’s re-election campaign, thanks, in large part, to the mayor’s decision to join Gutierrez as a champion of immigration reform — a decision Emanuel made in part, to bolster his standing among Hispanics.
Gutierrez was poised to co-chair the mayor’s re-election campaign once again until Emanuel chose political retirement over the uphill battle for a third term. The two men even made a trip to Puerto Rico together last spring to get a first-hand look at the devastation and hardship that still exists months after Hurricane Maria.
Last fall, Gutierrez cut an 11th-hour deal that saw him announce his retirement days before the filing deadline and throw his support to County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.
After Emanuel dropped out, Gutierrez switched gears and launched a “Draft Chuy” movement after taking a pass on the mayor’s race himself, only to have Garcia do the same.
In a Monday night interview on the WTTW-TV program, “Chicago Tonight,” Garcia told interviewer Carol Marin, “Don’t discount that someone like Luis Gutierrez couldn’t get into the race and shake things up.”
But, Gutierrez said Tuesday that’s out of the question. His only concern is getting Jessica elected to a City Council in transition.
“I am not gonna do absolutely anything that puts in question my daughter’s independence. … You don’t have two Gutierrez on the ballot. If you do, people will then begin to question her,” the retiring congressman said.
“I would love to be mayor of Chicago. But I’m going to make sure that one thing happens: That a young, bright, energetic, independent and progressive voice is in the City Council so she can be a wonderful check on the excesses of the executive branch.”