Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Opinion: Our Press Release Mayor

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Last night, on the Southeast Side, Rahm Emanuel did that thing he does where he makes himself a hero.

    Emanuel made a grand announcement about a new school and told the crowd how his gleaming, sparkly and transparent administration will "for the first time" build them a gleaming, sparkly new school.

    Let's look past the questions about the site and the deal for a moment (toxicity and traffic be damned!) -- because that's exactly what Emanuel did. He walked out of the press conference without taking a single question from community leaders, parents or reporters.

    Trust him. It's a good thing. And it's a good thing because he said so. To be sure, the area needs a new school to alleviate congestion and overcrowding. The Chicago school board decided this spring to close 50 schools and move students to existing facilities.

    But schools are community anchors and the community deserves input.

    When it comes to input, though, Emanuel is a giver and not a receiver. He's governed this city since taking over from Richard Daley in 2011 by press release and edict, which shouldn't be surprising, because that's how he ran for office, too. Emanuel did not attend a single community forum during his campaign -- while his opponents attended many.

    It didn't matter in 2011, Emanuel won in a landslide.

    But it might matter in 2015. Emanuel's poll numbers are in the tank -- especially with black voters, a constituency he desperately needs. His handling of the city's school closures, the city's perceived violence problem and the economic outlook for the city's less-than-affluent class are all dragging him down.

    The not-scientific site TabsOnRahm shows that Emanuel is not well liked in any category on which he promised to improve the city.

    There currently may not be a viable challenger to Rahm Emanuel's reelection as Chicago Mayor. But there is definitely an opening if someone were to step forward, because while Emanuel would like for you to read the next press release on his heroics, many Chicagoans seem to be seeing him in a different light.