Rahm Gets An Earful From "Rolling Stone" - NBC Chicago
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Rahm Gets An Earful From "Rolling Stone"



    One reason Mayor Rahm Emanuel receives such oleaginous coverage from national publications is that no national reporters actually live in Chicago.

    Take Jonathan Alter, who wrote the “we’re just a couple of elite guys hanging out” profile of Emanuel in this month’s issue of The Atlantic. Alter grew up in Chicago, in a politically-connected family (his mother, Joanne Alter, was a commissioner of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, the first woman elected to countywide office). But he left as a teenager to attend Phillips Academy and Harvard University. He now lives in New Jersey, which explains why he can call Emanuel a “reformer” and write “Chicagoans like having a rich mayor; it gives them one less thing to worry about.”  And “so far almost everyone -- except members of the Chicago Teachers Union, the Amalgamated Transit Union, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and their backers -- likes Rahm’s performance.”

    An afternoon in any neighborhood tavern might have convinced him otherwise.

    Now, we finally have an actual Chicago resident writing about Emanuel for a national outlet. Rick Perlstein, author of Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America, has a piece on RollingStone.com entitled “Rahm Emanuel Has a Problem With Democracy.”

    Perlstein, who has to live with Rahm just like all the rest of us, excoriates Rahm for the expanded powers he seized to deal with the G8/NATO summit (now just the NATO summit), for claiming speed cameras are for the safety of our children, and for giving most of his City Hall face time to big-money donors. (Perlstein also dismisses Alter’s story as “Rahmpropaganda,” the latest neologism playing on Rahm’s name.)

    Perlstein concludes:

    What Rahm seems to be doing is building a new machine for our age of union busting and austerity. His budget, which the City Council passed 50 to 0 like it was some Soviet Party Congress, killed six community mental health clinics, saving $2.3 million dollars, and proposed to carve $10 million and 110 union jobs from Chicago’s libraries; in the face of protest, he restored $5.3 million and 55 workers to the system. As the progressive Chicago journalist Curtis Black points out , it’s instructive to compare that $7 million in precious, precious budget savings to some of the free public money he’s handed out to corporations. An animal testing company that serves Big Pharma, Experimur LLC, got $3.7 in “tax increment financing” — basically a loan given with little public accountability that’s supposed to be paid back by the tax revenue future growth creates – to save their 26 jobs: “It does appear that, job-wise, libraries get you a bigger bang for your buck,” Black wrote in the Community Media Workshop’s publication Newstips . And he offered his second biggest campaign contributor , the Chicago Mercantile Exchange already a very profitable corporation, a TIF grant of $15 million for office renovations, including a luxury bathroom. (The CME turned the grant down.)
    Welcome to the new machine: cuts to schools, libraries, and mental health; cash to corporations. And should you have the insolence to protest it – well, you’d better be able to afford a damned good lawyer.

    That’s the sort of attack on City Hall you rarely read outside the Reader or The Chicago Reporter. Perlstein is a left-leaning journalist. The fact that critiques of Emanuel only come from that direction demonstrates that, despite his association with President Obama, he is the conservative establishment in Chicago.


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