Emanuel Talks Chicago's Students, Asks City to Do Its Part During Second Inauguration

In a scaled-back inauguration ceremony for Mayor Rahm Emanuel, 50 city aldermen and citywide elected officials Monday, the mayor spoke on a similar platform to the one he campaigned on four years ago. But this time, he shifted some of the focus to the people of Chicago themselves. 

"Today I challenge every citizen of this great city: you must do your part," Emanuel said in his inauguration speech. 

The ceremony took place at the Historic Chicago Theatre and hosted some famous guests, including former President Bill Clinton and singer Renee Fleming.

In his inauguration speech, the mayor spoke about education and giving Chicago's children a brighter future, particularly those children who have been left behind. While he avoided discussing any hint of school closings, he did talk about children who were "economically and spiritually hungry." 

"We cannot abandon our most vulnerable children to the gang and the gun," the mayor said. "They have the potential and the desire to be so much more." 

The inauguration comes after one of the more violent weekends of the year, during which one person was killed and at least 38 others injured in shootings citywide.  

Four years ago, Emanuel had a plan to change the poor circumstances for Chicago's students, but this time around he asked that the whole city join him in making a change, suggesting that he and his administration cannot do it alone. 

"The government is not a substitute for involved parents and other role models," Emanuel said. "The government is not set up to provide a moral compass to our lives."

While education was the main focus of the mayor's speech, he also mentioned the mounting pension and financial crisis that grips the city and state. Just last week, Moody's and Standard and Poor's downgraded Chicago's debt status following the Illinois Supreme Court's recent decision to strike down a landmark pension reform law. Besides saying he would address these challenges "head-on," however, Emanuel did not elaborate on his plans to fix the situation. 

This was Emanuel’s second inauguration as mayor of the nation's third-largest city. Thirteen new aldermen also joined City Council, and City Clerk Susana Mendoza and Treasurer Kurt Summers were sworn into office as well. 

While Bill Clinton did not make a speech, his presence at the inauguration demonstrated a powerful support base for the mayor following a rough re-election campaign against challenger Jesus "Chuy" Garcia in April. 

Emanuel and Clinton have a long history together. Emanuel went to work for Clinton in the early 1990s when he was governor of Arkansas, and Emanuel later served in senior positions in the White House during the president's two terms in office.

Grammy award-winning singer Renee Fleming also performed at the event. Fleming was recently awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Obama and extended her agreement with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, where she will serve as a creative consultant for another two years.

Fleming was joined at the inauguration by Englewood-based spoken word artist and poet Harold Green.

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