Entries in Rahm Emanuel (9)


Chicago Putting More Cops on the Street in Wake of Teen's Death

Scott Olson/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- A major American city already reeling from a high murder rate was stunned by the shooting death of Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old student at Chicago's King College Prep School and majorette in the band, who performed with her classmates at several inaugural events last week in the nation's capital.

Now, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has said enough is enough.

With 42 homicides alone last month, making it the deadliest January in Chicago since 2002, Emanuel announced a new anti-violence initiative on Thursday to try and slow down the mounting body count in his city.

Spurred by the death of Pendleton, who apparently wandered into a gang area on Tuesday, the mayor said he was taking 200 cops off desk duty and putting them on the street.

During a press briefing with reporters, Emanuel addressed Pendleton being cut down before her life had a chance to start, saying, "When any young person in our city is gunned down without reason, their death makes an impression on all of us, and it demands action from all of us."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Chicago Teachers Strike 'Wrong... For Our Children,' Mayor Says

Scott Olson/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- As Chicago teachers and administrators walked on picket lines Monday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said it was "wrong ... for our children" and urged negotiators to "stay at the table."

The strike is the first teachers strike for the city in 25 years.

"This is a strike of choice and it's the wrong choice for our children and it's not necessary," Emanuel said at a news conference Monday. "Totally avoidable. ... We need to just finish the job ... given all the work that's gone on ... to make sure that our kids get the education they need."

The strike started Monday after this weekend's last-ditch negotiations between the Chicago Teachers Union and Chicago Public Schools failed to produce a new labor agreement.

The union represents more than 29,000 teachers in the third-largest school district in the U.S.

Negotiations between the two sides were reportedly stuck on two issues: teacher evaluations that focus heavily on standardized test scores and a benefits package for union members.

The teachers union argued that the evaluation system emphasized students' standardized test scores too heavily and unfairly penalized instructors. Emanuel said that he believed the tests would reflect better on the teachers' performances than the teachers thought.

Jesse Sharkey, the union's vice president, said Monday that teachers were trying to reach a contract with the city.

"I do think it happens to be that the issues we're facing in Chicago are the same issues that people are facing across the country," Sharkey said. "Public education has become an issue that's about people's rights and people's access to a high-quality future and so we think we're fighting for good public schools here and that's something worth fighting for."

Sharkey said that an atmosphere in which the school system took credit for successes and placed blame and failures on educators had created a "sense of resentment and frustration among our members."

With teachers out of the classrooms, 144 schools opened from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. to provide breakfast, lunch and care for students.

In a city where shootings have been the story of the summer, keeping nearly 400,000 students safe during the strike immediately has become a top concern.

The teachers' labor agreement ended in June and months of negotiations failed to hatch a new deal.

Karen Lewis, the union's president, said Sunday that the strike was a difficult decision that the group had tried to avoid.

"Throughout these negotiations have I remained hopeful but determined," she said. "We must do things differently in this city if we are to provide our students with the education they so rightfully deserve."

Emanuel Monday said that the latest offer presented to the teachers union was a fair one.

"This offer is respectful of our teachers," he said. "It does right by our students and it is fair to our taxpayers. It is a 16-percent pay increase over four years."

Emanuel said that the two sides had made so much progress in the negotiations that the walk-out should have and could have been avoided.

The mayor said that his team was ready to resume negotiations immediately.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Emanuel on Chicago's Teachers Strike: Get It Done 'For Our Children'

Scott Olson/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel today had a blunt message for negotiators involved in the ongoing teachers strike, the city’s first in a quarter of a century: “Stay at the table. Finish it for our children.”

"This is a strike of choice and it's the wrong choice for our children and it’s not necessary. Totally avoidable,” Emanuel said at a press conference following his visit this morning to Maranatha Church, one of around 60 faith-based organizations serving as safe haven sites for children to use during the strike.

“We need to just finish the job – given all the work that’s gone on – to make sure that our kids get the education they need,” he urged.

Emanuel said the two sides had reached an agreement on every issue except two: teacher evaluations and control over hiring decisions.

“Everything here is down to two final issues. It's not air conditioning, okay? It’s 71 degrees outside. It’s not air conditioning. We don’t go on strike for air conditioning. Two issues, fundamental: an evaluation system designed by teachers, for teachers, revised by teachers [and] a system in which the local principal picks the most qualified teacher to teach or downtown does it. And I am against downtown. I want the local principal, your neighborhood school principal, picking the best qualified teacher.”

While the teachers union has argued that the evaluation system emphasizes students’ standardized test scores too heavily and unfairly penalizes teachers, Emanuel said he believes the tests would reflect better on the teachers’ performances than the teachers themselves seem to think.

"I have a bigger confidence in the quality of our teachers than they do, which I think is a little strange,” he noted.

The mayor claimed the latest offer presented to the teachers union was a fair one.

“This offer is respectful of our teachers, it does right by our students, and it is fair to our taxpayers. It is a 16 percent pay increase over four years. But what we can't do is roll back what is essential to improving the quality of our education,” he said.

“I'm not going to allow another generation to go on the shortest school day in the shortest school year. I’m not going to allow another generation to go that doesn’t make sure that we make improvements in our most rigorous curriculum,” he added.

Before concluding, Emanuel denounced Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s statement today on the teachers strike as nothing more than “lip service.”

“I don’t really give two hoots about national comments scoring political points or trying to embarrass, or whatever, the president.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Chicago Mayor Emanuel Chastises Gangs for Child's Murder

Scott Olson/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- The latest number signifying how bad Chicago’s violence has become is a small one: 7.

That’s how old Heaven Sutton was when she died Wednesday night of a gunshot to the back.  She was selling candy at a stand in front of her house when someone down the street opened fire. A stray bullet struck her as she ran to the safety of her home.

“She loved to sing, dance and crack jokes.  And she always smiled,” her mother, Ashake Banks, told ABC News.  Banks had opened the stand to keep a closer watch on and protect children in her violent neighborhood on Chicago’s west side.  “There was already shooting in the neighborhood,” she said. “So I figured that if I set up a big tent and a candy store, it would keep the kids in the middle of the block instead of going down to the [corners] where all the activity was.”

Banks believes the shooter was a gang member targeting someone else in the crowd near the stand. She had hoped the gangs would stay away from a place meant for kids.  “But they really didn’t even care. ...They killed my baby.”

Heaven’s death is the latest of 253 murders so far this year in what has become a numbing drumbeat of violence.  But her killing may be a crescendo.  It prompted an angry Mayor Rahm Emanuel to lecture the gangs driving this staggering 38 percent increase in Chicago homicides.

Asked about this shooting at an economic development event, the mayor said, “This is not about crime. This is about values. Take your gang conflict away from a 7-year-old. Who raised you? You have a 7-year-old selling lemonade. You’re a member of a gang coming to get lemonade and another gang member is driving by. Where were you raised and who raised you?” His voice rising and pointing his finger, he continued sternly, “Stay away from the kids!”

This emotional and personal approach is new for the mayor, who has focused on announcing various police and community tactics in previous comments on the spike in murders and shootings here.

Another different approach came earlier this week when police gave the details of a $1 million partnership with CeaseFire, an organization that relies on ex-gang members to mediate conflicts and prevent violence.  The controversial deal will put 40 "interrupters," as the group calls them, on the streets in two of the city’s most violent neighborhoods.

Ashake Banks welcomes any kind of help “to stop the shooting.”

She and Heaven were planning a trip to Disney World next month, a reward for the girl’s good grades this year.  Instead, Ashake now plans a march with neighbors to send a message and a challenge: “They cannot get away with just killing my baby.  They shot her in the back and she was just seven years old.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Rahm Emanuel Welcomes Nobel Peace Prize Winners to Chicago

ABC News(CHICAGO) -- Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel welcomed Nobel Peace Prize winners including former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and President Jimmy Carter to Chicago Monday for the start of the 12th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates.

This is the first time the summit has been held in North America.

“I’m proud that we’re having it here in Chicago, because Chicago has more Nobel Laureates than any other city in America,” Emanuel said in an interview with ABC News.  Twenty-one Nobel Peace Prize winners are expected to participate in the three-day event.

The mayor started the day with Gorbachev and actor-activist Sean Penn, the unlikely trio talking with public high school students at Von Steuben Metropolitan Science Center.  Nobel Laureates spread throughout Chicago Public Schools to tell their stories and bring home the “Speak Up, Speak Out for Freedom and Rights,” theme of the summit.

“We had 14 schools just this morning with Nobel Laureates or organizations all participating in social studies classes about the world, about peace, about social injustice, about making a difference,” said Emanuel.  “And we’re going to have a curriculum that stays with the school when this summit wraps up on Wednesday.  It will be here for future generations.”

At Von Steuben, Gorbachev was introduced by a high school senior who immigrated with her family from Yemen.

“She’s going to Northwestern on a four-year scholarship.  That tells you something about Chicago -- that tells you something about America,” Emanuel said.  “And I want the kids of that school to have the opportunity to meet these individuals who’ve made a difference in the world, the world they’re living in right now.”

For Mayor Emanuel, the message he hopes students take from their conversations with Nobel Peace Prize winners and peace activists is that “an individual speaking up on behalf of injustice, or peace, can make a difference.”´╗┐

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Chicago Invests $7 Billion to Fix Crumbling Infrastructure 

Scott Olson/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- Gridlock and dysfunction in Washington, coupled with the aftereffects of U.S. economic malaise, have spurred cities like Chicago to take matters into their own hands when it comes to rebuilding crumbling infrastructure.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who knows a thing or two about Washington’s incompetence after working in Congress and the White House for more than a decade, this week unveiled a new $7 billion infrastructure plan that he believes will create 30,000 jobs in the next three years.

“Whether it’s renewing our parks or repairing our pipes, repaving our roads or rebuilding our rails, retrofitting our buildings or revitalizing our bridges, we must restore Chicago’s core,” Emanuel said Thursday in unveiling the plan, called “Building a new Chicago.”

The project is an ambitious one, designed to address flaws underground, on land and in the skies above the city: renovate, repair or rebuild more than 100 bus and train stations; create the first 16 miles of a rapid transit bus route; open two new runways at the city’s O’Hare airport; acquire 180 new acres of parklands; build 20 new playgrounds and 12 new parks; replace 900 miles of water pipes; modernize public schools and colleges; and retrofit city buildings to reduce their energy consumption.

That all sounds well and good. But how can America’s third-largest city embark on such a sprawling plan without receiving federal help or raising taxes? The answer lies in the private sector.

“Nobody is looking to Washington to be a savior anymore,” Joseph Schwieterman, a transportation specialist at DePaul University in Chicago, said. “During the recession, the federal government was seen as an important financier, but the stimulus is over and it’s obvious the federal government isn’t going to be able to provide as much as it once did. So now the mayor wants to bring private firms to the table in Chicago to run the city more like a business."

“He’s not using the word ‘privatization’, but there’s an element that’s similar to that, where a firm may, for instance, manage City Hall for a fee and in the process lower the electric bill and custodial costs. It’s exciting, but we all know the devil is in the details.”

Under the new arrangement, a non-profit fund known as the Chicago Infrastructure Trust -- unveiled last month with former President Bill Clinton in attendance -- will employ the resources and experience of the private sector to address Chicago’s public infrastructure problems.

“This model of private financing for public infrastructure is happening all over the world, but not here in America,” Emanuel noted.

Robert Puentes, director of the metropolitan infrastructure initiative at the Brookings Institution, praised Chicago’s aggressive approach.

“People understand that the city’s infrastructure needs to be fixed, especially when compared to other countries and their modern airports,” Puentes said. “People also understand that on a national level the federal government is not promising a lot of money to rain down on cities and states and metropolitan areas, so cities like Chicago are now starting to devise their own plans for how they’re going to make these big broad investments in infrastructure."

With states and cities across the country slashing their budgets and scrapping essential services in a desperate effort to merely stay afloat, Chicago’s project stands out as especially impressive. Emanuel made it clear that he has no intention of waiting around for help from the federal or state government.

“We can’t allow dysfunction, whether in Washington or [state capital] Springfield, to delay our economic development,” he stated.

Analysts such as Puentes and Schwieterman predict that it won’t be long before other cities follow Chicago’s lead, assuming the project here goes well.

“The frustration for cities comes from the fact that Washington doesn’t do anything -- they get in the way and they’re not being supportive. There’s a recognition of that,” Puentes said. “Many other metropolitan areas are watching what’s going on in Chicago and their successes and failures are really going to resound in the rest of the country. Chicago is first out of the box, but they won’t be the last.”

Schwieterman agreed. “I think other cities have no choice but to follow suit,”  he said. “We can’t rely on government to dig us out of the hole -- we’ve got to find new sources of revenue. It’s a new reality.”

But that is not to say there are not risks involved in Chicago’s plan. In the past, the city has suffered from public-private partnership projects gone wrong, such as the fiasco that has resulted from a 2008 deal that leased Chicago’s parking meters for 75 years to a private company. It now costs Chicago drivers a whopping $5.75 an hour to park downtown during peak hours.

Puentes said, “The public is right to wonder if this sounds too good to be true.  We could certainly do more with less, like realizing some savings through reforms, but private investors are profit-driven -- that’s why they’re in this game -- so in order to do this you have to figure out a way to pay them back with interest or figure out how they benefit from certain investments."

“The danger is falling into the trap that it’s free money,” he said. “It’s certainly not.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


First Lady Gets Her Hands Dirty, Promotes Healthy Living in Chicago

Scott Olson/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- The first lady looked as much fashionplate as farmhand as she toured Iron Street urban farm on Chicago’s Southside Tuesday.

There to support Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s effort to shrink “inner-city food deserts” (areas devoid of grocery stores and healthy food choices) and to advance her own agenda of healthy eating and fitness, the first lady toured the facility and learned about aquaponics, worm composting and various types of indoor agriculture, such as oyster mushroom chandeliers.

At one point standing over a compost pile, the first lady picked up a worm and said mischievously to the media, “It’s alive!”

Outside the large warehouse facility sit several greenhouses. The first lady went down rows of “curly” kale in one of them, getting guidance from farm staff tending these year-round crops.

Johnny Evans, 19, was one of them. He said he talked to the Michelle Obama about how “we grow these greens year-round in these greenhouses, all natural, no electricity. The compost keeps it warm.”

Michelle Obama looked sleek, comfortable and fashionable in black pants and a tan-and-black, nautical-striped long-sleeve jersey that gathered to a bow on her right shoulder.

At the event, the first lady joined with Emanuel to announce the opening of 36 new grocery stores across the city.

Her stop Tuesday is part of Obama’s national tour to promote her Let’s Move initiative. The campaign aims to promote healthy eating and exercise while combating childhood obesity. Earlier this month, Obama rallied with 400 children in an effort to break the world record for most people doing jumping jacks in a day, calling the National Geographic Kids-sponsored program “Let’s Jump!”

Tuesday night the first lady hosted a fundraiser for her husband in the Windy City.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel Releases City Workers' Salary Information

Scott Olson/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration Thursday posted the salaries of every city employee to a public website in a bid to follow through on a campaign promise to bring transparency to government.

At $2.5 billion, payroll is one of the largest expenses for the city as it battles a $650 million budget deficit. The data showed that 2,400 city workers are paid $100,000 or more per year.

"During the campaign I promised to have the most open, accountable and transparent government that the City of Chicago has ever seen," Emanuel said in a statement. "Today's effort is another step toward this goal, as we create an administration that is accountable to the citizens of Chicago."

Of the 34,219 municipal workers, the highest-paid employee is Garry McCarthy, the Superintendent of Police ($260,004), followed by Emanuel ($216,210) and then Fire Commissioner Robert Hoff ($202,728).

Meanwhile, the city's inspector general Joseph Ferguson, in charge of fighting corruption in the metropolis, is paid $161,856, but Emanuel's administrative secretary is paid $162,500.

The lowest-paid city employee is administrative secretary Mark Angelson, with a symbolic salary of $1, followed by the foster parents and senior companions, all paid $2,756.

There are also some more surprising figures, such as the 31 employees who put boots on cars being paid $62,000 a year and 23 caulkers paid $91,500 each.

Chicago is not the first city to implement this transparency measure.

Responding to the scandal involving the extremely high pay for Bell City officials in Los Angeles County (one manager was paid twice as much as President Obama), Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel posted the salaries of nearly 37,000 city employees online in February.

In New York, the Empire Center of New York Policy also posts the salaries of government employees online.

Only time will tell if more cities follow suit as states battle severe budget deficits across the country and citizens demand accountability from their elected officials.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Blagojevich Trial: Rahm Emanuel, Jesse Jackson Jr. Testify

Tim Boyle/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich smiled and waved to spectators lined up in the lobby of the federal courthouse in Chicago where his second trial on federal corruption charges is underway Wednesday.

Blagojevich's attorneys opened his defense with a witness list of prominent politicians, including Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. Blagojevich himself will take the stand Thursday.

In the first trial, jurors deadlocked on all but one guilty verdict of lying to a federal agent.

Emanuel, President Obama's former chief of staff, testified that no one asked him for anything in return for Blagojevich appointing Obama confidante Valerie Jarrett to Obama’s vacated Senate seat.

Earlier, Jackson had suggested that Blagojevich did not name his wife to a state post -- director of the Illinois lottery -- because Jackson refused to donate $25,000 to Blagojevich’s campaign.

Federal prosecutors are accusing Blagojevich of attempting to steer the Senate seat to Jackson in return for more than $1 million in campaign contributions from Jackson's political allies. Jackson has said he knows nothing of such a deal and is not charged with any wrongdoing.

Blagojevich will take the stand Thursday in a last-ditch attempt to show the allegations amount to little more than political bluster -- all talk and no action.

"That's a tough sell," said former U.S. attorney Ron Safer, who says Blagojevich is guilty of a crime "if he attempted it."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐

ABC News Radio