READING ABOUT THE CURRENT REGIME


Kari Lydersen (Mayor 1%) writes

Emanuel’s critics and admirers have both described him as a quintessential creature of Washington and Wall Street, a brilliant strategist and fundraiser who knows just the right way to leverage his famously abrasive personality to get wealthy donors to open their wallets and to help him win races. He became a prominent fundraiser for powerful politicians in his twenties, he made some $18 million in investment banking in just two years, he played central roles in two White Houses, and he orchestrated a dramatic Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives during his six years in Congress. He clearly knows how politicking works. But being mayor is different, or at least it should be. In Washington people are often tagged as political allies or adversaries, fair game for manipulation or intimidation. In Congress Emanuel represented his constituents, but the daily grind had a lot more to do with Beltway machinations and maneuvers. Running a city, where you are elected to directly serve people and listen to them, is supposed to be a different story. Emanuel was treating Chicago as if it were Washington. Perhaps that’s why, even in his brief tenure as mayor, he has seemed to find it so easy to ignore the parents, teachers, pastors, students, patients, and others who have carried out multiple sit-ins and protests outside his fifth-floor office in City Hall.

These citizens frequently note that Daley had not been particularly accessible, sympathetic, or democratic in his approach, but at least he would meet with people, acknowledge them, make perhaps token efforts to listen to their proposals and act on their concerns. Emanuel can’t seem to find the time for many members of the public, they complain, even as he says he wants their input on issues like school closings. Parents, grandparents, and students with the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO) camped out in City Hall for nearly four days trying to deliver a formal plan that community members had drafted in conjunction with university experts to protect their local school from closing and create a network of educational resources in the surrounding low-income neighborhoods.

“His response was to ignore us,” said Jitu Brown, education organizer for KOCO, one of the city’s oldest and most respected civil rights organizations. “We had our problems with Mayor Daley, but Mayor Daley surrounded himself with neighborhood people and he himself was a neighborhood person. This man, Rahm Emanuel, has surrounded himself with corporate people. This administration is doing the bidding of corporations and robbing us of the things our parents fought for.


Bernard Harcourt (The Guardian) writes

On the evening of 15 October 2011, thousands of Occupy protesters marched to Grant Park and assembled at the entrance to the park to engage, once again, in political expression. But this time, the assembled group found itself surrounded by an intimidating police force, as police wagons began lining up around the political assembly. The police presence grew continually as the clock approached midnight.

Within hours, at the direction, ironically, of President Obama's former chief-of-staff (was Rahm Emanuel at Grant Park after hours, a few years earlier?), the Chicago Police Department began to arrest the protesters for staying in Grant Park beyond the 11pm curfew in violation of a mere park ordinance.

Emanuel could have ordered his police officers to issue written citations and move the protesters to the sidewalk. In fact, that's precisely what the police would do a few weeks later at a more obstreperous protest by senior citizens at Occupy Chicago. On that occasion, 43 senior citizens who stopped traffic by standing or sitting in the middle of a downtown street were escorted by police officers off the street without being handcuffed, and were merely issued citations to appear in the department of administrative hearings. (Those arrests, however, took place under the watchful eye of Democratic Senator Dick Durbin and Democratic Representatives Danny Davis, Jan Schakowsky and Mike Quigley.)

But not on 15 October or the following Saturday night. Instead of issuing citations, the Chicago police arrested over 300 protesters, placed them in handcuffs, treating the municipal park infractions as quasi-criminal charges, booked them, fingerprinted them and detained them overnight in police holding cells, some for as many as 17 hours. They are now aggressively prosecuting these cases in criminal court.

That's precisely the type of practice that chills political expression. The inconsistent treatment of political dissent in Grant Park or at the Chicago board of trade reflects the colossal amount of discretion that mayors and police chiefs have over political discourse today. Police discretion is wide, political expression is fragile.


Ben Joravsky (Chicago Reader) writes

Throughout her book, Lydersen gets at the heart of the paradox of Rahm: the man has as much determination, will, and chutzpah as anyone alive, yet he uses it all on wimpy policies that largely preserve the status quo. What a waste.

In perhaps the most informative chapter of Mayor 1%, Cashing In, Lydersen writes about the years from 1998 to 2002, after Emanuel left the Clinton White House and before he was elected congressman from a north-side district.

That's when he utilized his "golden Rolodex" to rake in more than $18 million as an investment banker. Among the deals he helped put together was "the purchase of the home alarm company SecurityLink from SBC Communications, then run by his longtime friend and former White House colleague Bill Daley."

That deal also involved investment banker Bruce Rauner, a Republican now running in the primary for governor.

Should Rauner become our next governor, there's a good chance he'll give Emanuel the casino he wants—which the mayor will probably build in the South Loop as part of that DePaul arena deal.

Mark Guarino (Salon) writes

Since his election, Emanuel’s approval numbers started dropping, and some are charging him as racist — a “murder mayor” deaf to the marginalized swaths of Chicago suffering from escalating street violence, inadequate transit and the largest mass school closing in U.S. history. While he reigns as mayor in a city traditionally ruled by Democrats, many consider him a Republican in donkey blue clothing, who, like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), swept into office and immediately hauled out the budget cleaver.

“Daley didn’t make enemies of labor unions, but now, the police, the fire, everybody essentially is now in opposition to Rahm and that didn’t have to happen,” says Dick Simpson, a former Chicago alderman who now teaches political science at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

To the surprise of no one familiar with his Washington reputation, many see the mayor as combative, refusing to take public input seriously, and allied so closely to his tight pool of corporate benefactors that the nickname “Mayor 1%” and Twitter hashtag #OneTermMayor have gone viral. Even some members of his party — a tribe that rarely breaks ranks — are scratching their heads in public. Most notable: Cook County board president Toni Preckwinkle, who told the Chicago Reader two weeks ago that his decision to close so many schools was “a terrible idea” and “demoralizing.”

“The closings are going to take place almost entirely within the African-American community, and given the problems we already have with violence, I think it’s very problematic,” she said.


David Sirota (PandoDaily) writes

A new report being released this morning shows that the supposedly budget-strapped Windy City - which for years has not made its full pension payments – actually has mountains of cash sitting in a slush fund controlled by Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Indeed, as the report documents, the slush fund now receives more money each year than it would cost to adequately finance Chicago’s pension funds. Yet, Emanuel is refusing to use the cash from that slush fund to shore up the pensions. Instead, his new pension “reform” proposal cuts pension benefits, requires higher contributions from public employees and raises property taxes in the name of fiscal responsibility. Yet, the same “reform” proposal will actually quietly increase his already bloated slush fund.




I wear my heart on the sleeve

I know that we the new slaves

I see the blood on the leaves

I see the blood on the leaves

I see the blood on the leaves

K. West - New Slaves