Chicago, Illinois, February 28, 2014 – With Chicago’s mayoral elections only one year away, an unpopular Mayor Rahm Emanuel – by necessity - has unofficially launched his re-election campaign early.
Emanuel has not made any formal announcement but the campaign has all the political tells, including a full-page letter published in the Chicago Sun-Times this week outlining the mayor’s “visionary” vision for a beleaguered Chicago.
And let’s not forget about this business of a national CNN reality TV documentary series from director Robert Redford that just happens to star Emanuel as – wait for it – a “visionary mayor” trying to save his city.
On Thursday, Emanuel appeared with New York Times columnist David Brooks before a live audience in Washington, D.C., and offered another preview of his re-election spin.
When questioned about Chicago’s now infamous homicide rate, Emanuel finally admitted to the problems…in the Chicago Police Department.
Emanuel said the Chicago Police Department was “slow to react” to the problem of internecine gang warfare but is “making progress now” under his leadership.
“We made some changes in the police department. I don’t think we were totally where we needed to be…We had arrested the gang leadership (sic) during my tenure correctly," Emanuel explained. "So there was no leadership in these gangs. And they had to be broken down and dissolved...And we as a police department and as a city, [were] slow to react to that.”
Emanuel was careful in his wording, not stating directly that his administration or Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy was to blame.
One Chicago Police officer reacted angrily via Twitter to Emanuel’s statement:
— Second City Cop (@SecondCityCop) February 28, 2014
Emanuel now says it his new strategy of “interceding before the retribution shooting” is working.
Since the beginning of January, Emanuel and McCarthy have been crowing about the drop in the murder rate. By the end of 2013, Chicago reported 415 homicides – down from a record 500 in 2012. Chicago still ranks higher in homicides than New York and Los Angeles, cities with much larger populations.
Other factors may also be at work. Under media pressure after the shooting death of 15 year-old Hadiya Pendleton on January 29, 2013, Emanuel finally ordered moonlighting police officers into 20 of the city’s most violence-prone areas at a cost of $103 million.
Of course, all of this is Emanuel’s attempt to rehabilitate his public image, which has taken a major hit since he was first elected. The most recent poll revealed 50% of Chicagoans lean toward disapproval of his job performance and 19% leaning toward approval.
Citiesjournal.com has ranked Chicago as one of its top 15 “Cities You Should Move Away From” and Mayor Rahm Emanuel can’t be too happy about that - especially with that election day countdown ticking.