The Mystery of Rahm Emanuel's Boxes

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I haven't written much on Rahm Emanuel's residency hearing because there hasn't been much to write unless you're really into watching crazy people question a man who looks to be silently plotting their demise. Tuesday's hearing made the Cantina scene in Star Wars look like an organized attempt at a community meeting. A few highlights:

  • Queen Sister managed to get a f***ing crazy hat through security and questioned whether Amy Rule, Rahm Emanuel's wife actually existed.
  • William Kelly may or may not have suggested that Rahm Emanuel paid off the entire scope of Chicago media in order to get more attention than whatever crazy homeless person got kicked off the ballot without a lawyer. He then took ten minutes to realize that "residence" is a legal term and had to be avoided.
  • A dude from the Ba'hai temple managed to get himself kicked out of the courtroom after insinuating that Rahm Emanuel was (1) lying on the stand and (2) therefore committing a human rights violation as his alleged lies were actively damaging the brains of everyone in the room.
  • "Ms. Muhammad" asked Rahm Emanuel if his middle name really was "Israel" and then accused him of being part of a conspiracy to fire Shirley Sherrod.
  • One objector asked if Rahm was in or around Waco, Texas in April of 1993.
  • One objector did not understand the meaning of the word "cursory."
  • One objector called him Ron.
  • One objector showed up in shorts. It was less than 20 degrees.
  • At one point, Rahm got so sick of being questioned about his car sticker that he had someone peel it off his car and he brought it to court in a Ziploc baggie.

And so on. At the end of the day, I'm fairly sure Rahm Emanuel thought he had it in the bag. After all, even if he wasn't living in the home he'd rented to the Halpins, even though he had to apply for a retroactive homeowner's credit on the Hermitage residence and even though he may or may not have been delinquent getting a vehicle sticker for his Mercury, all his sh*t was still in his old basement.

Or was it?

Rahm Emanuel's tenant, Lori Halpin,
testified Wednesday that contrary to Emanuel's testimony, she has never
seen any of the 100 boxes of personal items he says he left in the

Halpin said she has not found any
hidden room where such boxes might be stored. There is a piece of
plywood behind some shelves against an outside wall that would lead to
an area under a porch. But she would not think people would store
valuables there, she said.

There it is! The smoking gun! The key to blowing a wild hole into Emanuel's case. The super-secret tiny bit of information that was going to be the golden moment where Rahm's embarrassment and Rahm's lack of residency turns right into Rahm's perjury case. it was. First, Rahm's wife's friend claimed to have helped Rahm's wife box up the items and shove them lovingly into a basement crawlspace under an addition to the house, not necessarily the basement proper. And then the lawyers went to the house where they found...


Attorneys for Emanuel visited the house he owns in
Ravenswood at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, located the much-discussed "crawl
space," looked inside and found the valuable items Emanuel had
maintained he had stored there...

Attorney Dana S. Douglas brought photos of the
boxes -- which include his wife's wedding dress and other sentimental
items -- to Emanuel's ongoing residency hearing just 80 minutes after
taking the pictures Wednesday, and he passed copies of the photos
around to all the objectors claiming Emanuel is not a bona fide
resident of Chicago.

Of course that didn't stop some of the objectors from claiming that the photos were faked, one even suggesting that he saw President Obama in the background. Because, at the heart of all of this is Obama, I'm sure. I'm shocked no one asked for a birth certificate. Some objectors have also claimed that the photos, taken late last night, don't show anything truly "valuable" that the Emanuels' couldn't live without.

At the end, the case seems to boil down to this. Rahm Emanuel didn't want to or couldn't afford to leave his house empty in the three or so years he would be in Washington like most people do: they hire a security company to watch the place, have a family member squat there for a while, etc. Rahm decided to rent the house to the Halpins for $5K per month, which turned out to be the big mistake.

When Emanuel wanted to move back, the Halpins asked for $100K, Emanuel refused and countered with an offer to finish out the lease. By then, though, it appears the Halpins were already chilling with Burt Odelson, possibly already under the impression that they held the magic key to getting Rahm kicked off the ballot.

In the end, this will all hinge on what the Board believes that "residence" means - is it the place you come home to every night, where you sleep and store all of the things you need day to day - or is it the place where you store all the things that are important to you, only so long as you intend to one day return? Basically, is physical presence at the heart of the meaning of the word "residency" and the only true determinant?

I'm not sure I'm convinced either way, especially given that the decision will have long-lasting repercussions for anyone who works or runs for office in the city. The burden, however, is on the objectors to prove Rahm isn't officially a resident, not on Rahm to prove he is one.

I do, however, firmly believe Rahm Emanuel will weasel his way out of this mess. And if I'm wrong, I'll wear that crazy ass hat.

UPDATE: The hearings have concluded. Final briefs from objectors are due Monday at Noon. The only requirement is that they be legible.


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  • After all the b.s., especially with Joe Morris saying that he wasn't going to take a field trip into the crawl space, you summed it up perfectly in your paragraph, starting with "In the end, this will all hinge on what the Board believes that "residence" means ..." I don't have to type the rest, except to say that eventually it will be a court.

    If residence is equated to domicile,* the determining factor is where you intend to have your permanent home. Stuff like the city sticker, drivers' license, and junk in the crawl space are evidence of that, but the legal issue is intent. It is pretty clear that Rahm didn't intend to be a permanent resident of D.C.

    Heck, New York income taxation was based on residence, defined as domicile, and they consistently held that anyone who moved to Israel,** or any place outside the U.S., couldn't change their domicile and still owed those taxes.

    *The people who are paying Odelson or whomever else aren't paying me enough to research that.

    **Coincidence here.

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