The gloves are off between the Chicago Tribune and Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
In a brutal take-down of Emanuel, Kristen McQueary -- who sits on the traditionally conservative editorial board of the newspaper -- took the city's Democratic boss to task for failing to match his shouty bravado to his political performance since taking office three years ago.
McQueary writes, "Chicago's affection toward Emanuel has shifted in a way that is different from the natural fizzle elected officials experience in their first terms. Here's why. Emanuel has stretched the continuum in opposite directions. His arrogance is oversized for the record he has amassed. He's beyond bossy. He's a walking personality disorder. But his audacity exceeds his accomplishments. That's a dangerous combination."
A walking personality disorder.
Many a pop psychologist has analyzed the mayor's high-strung, high-energy temperament, but coming from one of the city's biggest newspapers, those are fighting words. Something Emanuel himself might say out loud to an opponent -- that is, if he were a media pundit and not a public servant seeking re-election amid rising disillusionment among Chicagoans and former supporters.
McQueary goes on to criticize Emanuel's recently authorized plan to borrow nearly a billion dollars for infrastructure maintenance and "running city government on a credit card." Among other knocks against him: Earmarking millions for a Marriott and sports arena in the South Loop; spending too much money on bike lanes as the pension crisis intensifies; spending too little time in Springfield, and taking too many trips to Washington.
"He has no discernible strategy to rescue the South and West sides from cancerous gang activity and crime," she adds. "He would rather focus on the well-to-do regions of the city. If one of his drivers plopped him at a South Side intersection, he would need Google Maps to get back home."
Last month the Tribune published hundreds of emails purporting to show that producers of the CNN docu-series Chicagoland collaborated with City Hall aides to depict Emanuel in the rosiest light possible. (While the breathless report generated tons of headlines, showbiz insiders laughed it off as much ado about nothing.)
On Wednesday Emanuel went about business as usual, telling reporters he wants to find a way to sanction pushcart food vendors operating illegally across the city. He also said he ordered his drivers to slow down after traffic footage caught them speeding.
If the mayor was angered by McQueary's "walking personality disorder" rhetoric, then he kept a tight lid on any anti-Tribune outbursts -- at least in front of the cameras.