It has been a remarkable couple weeks here in Chicago since a judge forced the release of a video showing the murder of Laquan McDonald.
I could link all day/ all night to the pressure for the resignation of Mayor Rahm Emanuel. In the news, in opinion, in the streets.
I supported Rahm Emmanuel for election in both 2011 and 2015.
As is my custom, I wrote a blog post explaining my voting decisions. I had a number of bullet points as to why I was voting for him in the February election, and I also noted “two discordant notes”:
The Mayor should post his schedule and list of the people with whom he has met in the administration of his duties. There’s no reason why he can’t do this. My guess is that he meets with lots of rich and powerful people, which is a great way to get big things done in a market economy. I believe that meeting with poor and disenfranchised people is worthwhile as well. You are what you measure.
There’s no reason for the Mayor to spend so much time and money on trying to remove and/or silence other elected officials who disagree with him on occasion. We’re a big city, with hundreds of thousands of adults living here. We can handle some differences in opinion/ approach.
The underlying agita here is that the Mayor just doesn’t care about poor people— that he doesn’t listen to anyone who 1/ isn’t rich and 2/ doesn’t already agree with him.
I wrote about his Sweater Ad during the election. That was when he “owned” the fact that he sometimes doesn’t listen. I was hoping that would change:
But I also appreciate processes and procedures, especially genuine ones that allow for real people to drive policy and solutions. I do a lot of this work in my professional life— I am deeply devoted hearing people and responding to their needs. It’s the most human thing we can do for each other. The goal is better lives, and that feels better.
In a second Emanuel term, I would love to see more structures for listening to residents. This is what elections are for— to elect the people we want, and to get them to make us feel the way we want to feel.
Let’s work with our Mayor on that.
But with the exception of the return of the budget hearings, there have been no structures for listening. I took photos at the first session. The mayor was forced from the stage in the second session, and once the third scheduled meeting was done, there was no more talk of the mayor appearing at open forums.
There is a persistent, abiding notion that the Mayor just doesn’t care what regular residents think. It’s at the core of his trouble.
Out of the river of damning text published about our Mayor and his inadequate response to the crisis of police violence and corruption, the words that hurt the most were in this Washington Post piece, “Rahm Emmanuel is in Deep, Deep Trouble“, published yesterday:
The natural thing to do would be to spend time in Chicago’s community rebuilding trust — listening to people instead of talking to them, Williamson calls it, stressing that Emanuel’s first priority should be how to keep Chicago governable rather than how to keep his job.
But mending relationships takes time, and as the protests on the streets of Emanuel’s beloved city make clear, the time for sincere action from Chicago’s mayor might have already passed in the eyes of those who matter.
I am accountable for my efforts in the political process. I voted for and advocated for the Mayor during the election. This is my accounting. And I crave this listening.
And, as he keeps saying, our Mayor is accountable to us. I want to help build those structures for listening that I wrote about back in March. I want to hold him to his promises from back then and his “Justice, Culture, and Community” speech this week to City Council. The whole world sees him struggle now. It’s not pretty. I am disappointed.