Emanuel Takes Strike Victory Lap

Mayor Rahm Emanuel did a victory lap Wednesday, shaking hands with parents and greeting students as they returned to class after union delegates suspended the teacher strike.

"This is an exciting day," Emanuel said at Frederic Chopin Elementary School. "It is a better value for taxpayers - paying less, getting more."

The mayor, who earlier this week ordered his general counsel to file for an injunction to end the strike, called the tentative teacher contract an "honest compromise." 

School districts across the county had their eye on Chicago as the city's first teacher strike in 25 years dragged on for seven days. Though the deal still needs approval from the union, both sides ended up giving some and taking some.

The contract includes a 7 percent salary increase over three years and a deal where 30 percent of teacher evaluations are based on test scores. While principals will retain hiring power, one-half of new hires must come from a pool of laid-off teachers.

CTU president Karen Lewis conceded, though, that trust remains "a big issue" between school bureaucrats and teachers, and said she hopes the mayor -- a man she's previously classified as a bully -- "carries out this contract in good faith."

Noticeably absent from the process was schools chief Jean-Claude Brizard. Except for a public round-table publicized following a rumor he was out the door, Brizard wasn't seen.

Emanuel said Wednesday he's still on the team. "JC has my confidence," he said.

As kids head back to school, Emanuel is moving on to other things. He reportedly is considering raising the city's amusement tax and the tax on cigarettes when he presents his annual budget address next month.

Emanuel said he doesn't want to raise sales and property taxes, though the Chicago Sun-Times points out an amusement tax hike would make Chicago's the highest in the country."

Emanuel would not comment on the tax during morning news conferences.

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