Rahm Emanuel appears to be busy trying to fulfill campaign promises ahead of his one-year anniversary as Chicago Mayor, which arrives on Wednesday.
Monday he announced 11,000 jobs at O'Hare for a cargo expansion, Tuesday he turned his attention to crime reduction and community initiatives.
His Strong Blocks/SAFE Communities Gang Takedown and Community Wrap-Around Strategy is certainly a mouthful, but there are questions about how effective it will be in battling a murder rate that soared by 52 percent in 2012.
Emanuel and his top cop Garry McCarthy discussed the program in the basement of a church in the Roseland neighborhood. Surrounded by pastors on stage the trumpeted recent arrests at open air drug markets in the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 10th and 11th districts.
"We're eliminating narcotics market by narcotics market," said Police Superintendent McCarthy. "The latest takedown in Calumet District ... identified 14 offenders."
They say their Wrap-Around Strategy will finish the job that the arrests started. The strategy calls for hosting community meetings and deploying community members and city service providers -- such as graffiti removal, streetlight repair, tree trimming, pothole repair, rodent abatement, and more -- to help clean up the neighborhood after the gang members and drug dealers have been arrested.
"These streets belong to the people of the city of Chicago," Emanuel said.
Critics say this is more of the same.
“You can’t arrest your way out of this problem,” Congressman Bobby Rush said earlier in 2012 according to the Chicago Sun-Times' Fran Spielman. “Let’s not be so long on law enforcement and short on the other kinds of programs that will really get at the heart of this problem. If there are not jobs behind this, we’re just repeating the same thing that we’ve done before."
When asked what was new about the community crime fighting strategy, the city principals were cagey.
McCarthy said: "this is part of the process of crime reduction," and Emanuel became a bit defensive.
"This is the accounting part of it" as far as his crime strategy is concerned.