Hizzoner

09.07.12

Rahm Emanuel Goes on Offensive About Healing Chicago

The Chicago mayor and former Obama chief of staff vows to attack the gang warfare that has helped spike his city’s murder rate 15 percent, and push through education reform despite a threatened teachers’ strike.
Video screenshot

When it comes to his city, Rahm Emanuel should be on the defensive.

The homicide rate in Chicago is up 15 percent. The teachers’ union is threatening a strike that would be crippling. But the mayor knows that, politically speaking, the best defense is a good offense.

“We have put more police on the street,” Emanuel says in a video interview. “We are forcefully trying to get guns, kids, and drugs off the streets … Overall crime in the city is down 9 percent this year.”

Perhaps, but he is trotting out a more favorable statistic than the deadly homicide rate.

The mayor acknowledged that “it is incumbent on us to cease and get between gang-on-gang violence.” He blamed “breakdowns in gang control” and the “flooding of guns in the streets from the suburbs.” Emanuel has gone to court to stem the tide of guns, but has suffered some legal setbacks.

Despite the threatened teachers’ strike, Emanuel boasted that he has pushed through a longer school day and full school year. “We’ve cheated our children for over a decade,” he said, and while the moves aren’t popular with the union, “I know what it’s going to do for children’s lives.”

A veteran of the Obama and Clinton administrations, Rahm did not sound like he missed Washington. Being a mayor “is actually more enjoyable,” he said, “because you’re closer to people. This is actually how people live their lives.”