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Residency Discussion Impedes Real Mayoral Issues

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Residency Discussion Impedes Real Mayoral Issues
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Have you heard about Rahm Emanuel’s plan to use TIF funds to hire another 250 police officers? Or how he’ll make garbage collection less expensive and more efficient by running it out of City Hall, instead of ward offices?

No, you haven’t. If you’ve heard anything about Emanuel this week, it’s that he’s not really a Chicagoan. So say the “ordinary citizens” and lawyers who have filed lawsuits to stop his candidacy, on the grounds that he hasn’t lived here for the past year.

Burt Odelson, a lawyer from Evergreen Park, is filing a residency challenge today on behalf of three Chicagoans “from different socio-economic, geographic and racial backgrounds.” Odelson, it should be noted, is an unpaid volunteer for Sen. James Meeks. He delivered Meeks’s petitions to City Hall.

These pests aren’t going to knock Emanuel off the ballot. Whichever election lawyers step forward to challenge Emanuel’s, he can hire even more expensive election lawyers. But while those challenges make their way through the courts, they’re going to be the news about Rahm Emanuel. Just today, the ABC News website posted a story entitled, “Residency Biggest Challenge For Emanuel in Chicago Mayor’s Race.”

You can bet ABC didn’t cover his op-ed about parental involvement in schools. This week, Emanuel’s PR team wasted a day and an e-mail blast on a defense of his residency, insisting that “political games are being played to limit your choices for Mayor.”

Political pros have a saying about “winning the news cycle.” Emanuel’s enemies won the news cycle all week. Odelson has promised to take this challenge all the way to the Illinois Supreme Court. By the time this challenge is over, we’ll know Emanuel is a Chicago resident. But that may be all we know about him.

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