Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Emanuel Returns From New York, Trumpets Summer Camp Data

The re-election-seeking Chicago mayor announces an increase in kids' Park District program enrollment

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Hours after attending an income inequality summit in New York City, Mayor Rahm Emanuel jetted back to Chicago where he began Wednesday by trumpeting another item on his increasingly progressive-infused political agenda.

    The re-election-seeking mayor announced that 41,468 children between the ages of six and 12 attended Chicago Park District day programs this summer, a big jump up from a jump up from enrollment numbers for 2013 (32,725 kids) and 2012 (37,403 kids). Emanuel cited ramped-up efforts by the Chicago Public Schools to promote day camps and the Chicago Housing Authority to provide vouchers for low-income families.

    The announcement comes on the heels of Emanuel's photo-op Monday alongside Big Apple boss Bill De Blasio, who was elected last year after running a populist campaign focused on combating income inequality and the erosion of the middle class.

    De Blasio, an icon of the reinvigorated progressive moment and true bleeding heart, has succeeded in launching a universal pre-K program and securing support from a wary New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in raising the state's minimum wage from $8 per hour to $10.10. Cuomo also opened the door for municipalities with high costs of living to set their own wages.

    At Monday's De Blasio-led mayoral summit at Gracie Mansion, Emanuel addressed his own efforts to raise the minimum wage in the Windy City from $8.25 per hour to $13. City Hall plans to make a decision on the proposal following November's midterm elections, when Illinois lawmakers intend to weigh in on a bill that would increase the wage to $10.

    An Emanuel staffer tweeted De Blasio as saying: "rahm gets things done. rahm is making change happen. his work on early ed & the minimum wage is inspirational."

    That was news to Chicago Teachers Union firebrand Karen Lewis, another progressive figurehead and a potential mayoral challenger, who accused Emanuel of affecting a left-wing persona to grab more votes following three years of "closing schools, demoralizing the police department and creating a mess."

    Emanuel denied allegations that he sought to puff up his progressive track record, citing a life-long personal investment in liberal policies.