Ward Room
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Rahm Town Hall Gets Testy

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Mayor hosts town hall meeting on budget cuts .

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A town hall meeting Monday hosted by Rahm Emanuel may be just a microcosm of what the mayor will be facing as he approaches his first budget.

An overflow room was needed to hold the estimated 700 people at Kennedy King College who were offered a chance to debate suggestions on how to cut the city's budget deficit.

It was intended to be a controlled dialogue with pre-screened questions, until one of the 72 laid-off traffic aides angrily asked why she, nor any of her colleagues were at the table when the decision was made to eliminate their jobs.

Emanuel responded that union leadership was at the table, which prompted derisive heckling from the crowd, including chants of "liar."

The mayor says his intent with the live-Tweeted meeting and on the week-old Chicagobudget.org Web site, is to collectively, creatively and openly find ways to fill the city's projected $635 million deficit.

So far, more than 1,800 ideas have been sent in.

Emanuel says he doesn't relish the tough changes he has had to make, and says more jobs will be eliminated.

But he's also not hesitating to lay the blame for those necessary tough changes on the previous administration.

"We've been doing some smoke and mirrors on the budget and avoided taking control of our own future as a city," Emanuel said at a press conference earlier in the day.

Emanuel must submit a balanced budget by October.

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