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Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Preckwinkle Finds An Issue In School Closings

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In an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, the Cook County Board president openly criticized the mayor for ignoring the retired judges on school closures. Mary Ann Ahern reports.

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 Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle repeatedly says she’s not running for mayor in 2015 -- which is what anyone running for mayor would say two years before the election.

 
“I’m running for re-election for the job I’ve got,” Preckwinkle said in a Sun-Times interview. “I’ve got a lot of work to do and it’s going to take another five years at least to do it.”
 
That was the same interview in which she blasted Mayor Rahm Emanuel for ignoring the recommendations of hearing officers to keep open 13 of 54 schools proposed for closing -- her most public disagreement yet with the mayor.
 
“What was the point of having public hearings?” Preckwinkle said during a 20-minute interview in her office. “Was it all a charade? If you weren’t going to pay any attention to the outcome of the public hearings or the recommendations of the public hearing officers, why would you bother to waste everyone’s time?”
This week, a Tribune poll found that Emanuel has been losing support among African-American voters -- 73 percent said he has not enough to encourage economic development in the city. And now, he seems to be losing the support of Chicago’s most prominent African-American politician.
 
Preckwinkle is the only candidate who could defeat Emanuel in 2015. As a former teacher -- and a critic of Emanuel’s “insulting” behavior toward Chicago Public Schools teachers -- she would have the slavish support of the Chicago Teachers Union, Emanuel’s number one nemesis. Her stance on schools would be popular in the black community, which is most affected by the closings -- and which voted for Emanuel in 2011.
 
So, Toni, if you ever change your mind about running for mayor, you now have an issue -- and you have a constituency.
 

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