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Rahm Emanuel: The Ping Pong Ball Candidate

Don Rose 11 October 2017 One Comment

Poor Mayor Rahm Emanuel, obviously running for third term come 2019, has become a political ping-pong ball, paddled between the Chicago Police Department and the African American and progressive communities.

He won strong support from African Americans in both his 2011 and 2015 victories–which was decisive in the latter. That’s because he had the backing of President Barack Obama, who actually cut commercials for Emanuel in 2015 when County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia forced him into the city’s first mayoral runoff election.


It might have been a different picture in 2015 had the world been aware that officialdom was sitting on video showing a policeman pumping 16 bullets into Laquan McDonald, whom the cop said was coming at him while the video showed he was actually moving away from the officer.

It looked like a cover-up by the police, the state’s attorney and City Hall–a charge strongly denied by all, but Emanuel fired top cop Garry McCarthy. Later, State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez was soundly defeated for re-election by Kim Foxx. Emanuel remains the only suspected cover-upper in office, making him highly vulnerable–even moreso after forcing through the  city’s highest property-tax increase in history last year.

He made himself look a little better by cooperating with Obama’s justice department, which issued a scathing report on the CPD, citing a long history of racism. Ping.

This would have led to federal oversight  to reform the department, but with the change in administration, Jeff Session’s DOJ walked away from police reform to concentrate on immigration and police support .  Emanuel seemed good with that, trying to ingratiate himself with the police under his hand-picked chief. Pong.

He made a reform gesture by dissolving the phony investigative group called the Independent Police Review Authority–which never met a miscreant cop it didn’t love–creating a new, citizen-based oversight group called the Civilian Office of Police Accountability. Ping.

COPRA was to include  genuine community representatives. Problem is, Emanuel appointed a chairperson, but the cohort of independent citizens was never filled. The stall made the cops very happy. Pong. To make things worse, the chair, Sharon Fairly recently resigned to run for Illinois Attorney General. A permanent chair has not been named.

Meanwhile, last June, civil rights groups and later the incumbent Illinois attorney general sued to put the department under the supervision of a federal judge in order to execute the reforms recommended by Obama’s DOJ. Rahm resisted at first, playing to the CPD–ping–then ponged back to agree to judicial oversight. Absent any further action, the ACLU and several community groups filed a new suit seeking to include people with disabilities in police reform.

Emanuel no longer mentions ending the police code of silence–Ping–but now he’s presiding over an multimillion dollar police overtime-pay scandal. Pong!

Several potential candidates are waiting in the wings with their own paddles. Some could mean serious trouble. (More about them as the field becomes clear.)

Whether Obama can save him again is open to question, but he likely would be saved if he gets Amazon to open its new, 5000-job facility in Chicago.

Don Rose is a regular columnist for the Chicago Daily Observer

One Comment »

  • Observant said:

    Is there any chance that Rahm Emanuel will return any of the thousands of dollars that his campaign accepted from the disgraced Hollywood producer Harvery Weinstein of Miramax?

    Since Rahm defines “Chicago Values” for all of us (Federal immigration laws notwithstanding), he ought to do the right thing and return Weinstein’s dirty, sexy money. Another alternative would be to donate an equivalent sum to charity.

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