As a mayoral candidate, Rahm Emanuel avoided most forums where he’d have to take questions from the public. But tonight, at what’s described as a “special” episode of the Tribune’s “Chicago Forward” series, Emanuel will appear at a forum moderated by editorial page editor Bruce Dold.
“Dold will present a long list of questions for Rahm Emanuel, and will take questions from the audience in attendance,” promises a press release for the event, which is taking place at the Field Museum’s James R. Simpson Theatre.
But here’s the catch: you have to pay $10 to get in. The admission fee includes “a post-event reception with food and drink, hosted by City Club of Chicago.”
I find this icky, for several reasons. It’s not just that there are people who can’t afford $10 to see the mayor, and that these are probably the same people who showed up at the public housing forum or the neighborhood organization forum that Emanuel skipped. It’s that people shouldn’t have to pay $10 to interact with a public official. But Emanuel is a fundraiser by profession, so he’s turning himself into a one-man revenue stream.
The Tribune is also compromising itself by using the mayor-elect as bait to collect a $10 admission fee. Can you really ask tough questions of a guy you’re collaborating with on a commercial venture?
Moderator Dold asked Emanuel perhaps the best question of the campaign: “Mr. Emanuel, do you feel you earned the $320,000 you made attending six meetings of the Fannie Mae-Freddie Mac board?”
Emanuel responded with a blank stare, as though he couldn’t comprehend why he wouldn’t be worth $320,000.
We hope Dold asks the same question tonight. Here are some other questions we’d like to hear:
That's just our two cents. We're not spending 10 bucks to ask the new mayor questions.
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