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  • Writer's pictureDonald V. Watkins

Rahm Emanuel Exits As Chicago’s Mayor

Updated: Apr 2, 2019

By Donald V. Watkins

©Copyrighted and Published on September 17, 2018

On September 4, 2018, Rahm Emanuel announced that he was not seeking re-election as Chicago’s mayor, a job he has held since 2011. Emanuel is Chicago’s first Jewish mayor and has been a power-broker in the national Democratic Party for the past 23 years.

Emanuel will leave office in May of 2019 after two disastrous terms in office that saw the largest round of school closings in the city’s history, a teachers strike, the corruption conviction of his onetime schools chief, an explosion of gun violence that surged under his watch, a sex abuse scandal at Chicago Public Schools, record tax increases to shore up the city’s pensions and the Laquan McDonald police shooting that led to a federal investigation of the Police Department and a decline in his support among the city’s African-American voters.

During Emanuel’s reign as mayor, Chicago became the Murder Capital of the World, twice. In 2016, 762 homicides occurred in Chicago. This was the highest number of homicides in Chicago in two decades and more than New York and Los Angeles combined.

The nation’s third largest city also saw 1,100 more shooting incidents in 2016 than it did in 2015, according to data released this month by the Chicago Police Department. New York, the nation’s largest city, had 334 homicides in 2016, while the country’s second-largest city, Los Angeles, experienced 294 homicides.

I first wrote about Chicago’s unflattering designation as the Murder Capital of the World on September 21, 2013. My article was published following a night of shootings in a city park that left 23 men, women, and children wounded from the shooting spree. The shootings occurred during the same week that the FBI officially proclaimed Chicago as the Murder Capital of the World. The FBI recorded 500 murders in Chicago in 2012, up from 431 in 2011.

Sadly, the number of people in Chicago who were killed in 2012 outpaced the number of deaths of American soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, and other international war/conflict zones combined during the same year. This was also true for 2016.

Chicago experienced a reduction in homicides in 2013 (420) and 2014 (416), but the number of homicides started to climb again in 2015 (468). In 2016, the number skyrocketed to 762 homicides.

How can Chicago be more dangerous than a war zone? There are many answers, but one apparent answer readily comes to mind.

Chicago is led by Rahm Emanuel, one of the least effective mayors in the nation. He is short in physical size and leadership stature. Rahm Emanuel’s only claim to fame is that he once served as Barack Obama’s first chief of staff. Even there, he was a dismal failure.

One thing is crystal clear -- Rahm Emanuel apparently does not give a damn about street violence in Chicago unless it occurs in the glitzy downtown Gold Coast area or on the City’s upscale North Side. Needless to say, these are predominantly white and rich neighborhoods in Chicago. The unprecedented wave of murders and other violent crimes is occurring on the city’s West and South sides, which are predominantly black, middle class, and poor neighborhoods that lack adequate community policing and basic city services.

We cannot say that Chicago has a policing problem. The City knows how to police when it matters to the "big money" crowd that controls City Hall.

Remember when Chicago hosted the 25th Annual NATO Summit in May of 2012? Rahm Emanuel put on a show of police force that would have dazzled the most hardened criminal element. He even opened up a closed prison to make sure that the City had plenty of capacity to incarcerate potential troublemakers. Crime in Chicago plunged that weekend to historic lows. Even the City's gangbangers got the message – important people from NATO are in town and we will not tolerate your foolishness this weekend.

As a special counsel to former Birmingham, Alabama mayor Richard Arrington, who was a powerful force in the Alabama Democratic Party and a highly successful five-term mayor, and former Montgomery, Alabama mayor Emory Folmar, who was another successful five-term mayor and the chairman of the Alabama Republican Party in the 1990s, I have seen what it takes to run a large city in an efficient and effective manner. I am glad to see Rahm Emanuel leaving office. He has been a total failure as Chicago’s mayor.

Bill Daley, the former U.S. Commerce Secretary under President Bill Clinton, has announced his intention to run for the job once held by his brother and father -- mayor of Chicago. Interestingly, Daley succeeded Emanuel as President Barack Obama’s White House chief of staff after Emanuel left the job in 2010 to run for mayor. Daley, who is generally regarded as weak and intellectually challenged, was also ineffective as Obama’s chief of staff.

It will be interesting to see whether Chicago voters replace one inept mayor with another one.

PHOTO: Rahm Emanuel recently announced that he is not seeking re-election as mayor of Chicago.

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