The Sudden But Well Deserved Fall of “Strong Mayor” Rahm Emanuel

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By Rick Pearlstein

It’s hard to remember a time when Rahm Emanuel wasn’t a Democratic Party superstar. Go back to 1991, when the thirty-two-year-old took over fund-raising for Bill Clinton. He  was soon renowned for making the staff come to work on Sundays, shrieking into the phone to donors things like “Five thousand dollars is an insult! You’re a twenty-five-thousand-dollar person!”—and, not incidentally, helping Clinton afford the blitz of TV commercials that saved himfrom the Gennifer Flowers scandal, clearing his course to the White House. The legend continued through this past April, when Rahm—in Chicago and D.C., he’s known by that single name—won a second term as the mayor of Chicago in a come-from-behind landslide.

Nine months later, Chicagoans—and Democrats nationally—are suffering buyer’s remorse. Last month, a Cook County judge ordered the release of a shocking dashcam video of a black seventeen-year-old named Laquan McDonald being shot sixteen times by a policeman while he was walking away. Five days later, the officer was charged with murder. The charge came after four hundred days of public inaction, and only hours before the video’s release. Of almost four hundred police shootings of civilians investigated by the city’s Independent Police Review Authority since 2007, only one was found to be unjustified. So the suspicion was overwhelming that the officer would not have faced discipline at all had officials not feared a riot—especially after it was learned that McDonald’s family had been paid five million dollars from city coffers without ever having filed a lawsuit. Mayor Emanuel claims that he never saw the video. Given that he surely would not have been reëlected had any of this come out before the balloting, a recent poll showed that only seventeen per cent of Chicagoans believe him. And a majority of Chicagoans now think he should resign.

For twenty years now, there have been those who say that this emperor never had any clothes on in the first place. Given the speed and intensity of his fall, perhaps it’s time to reconsider their case.

Start with the 1992 Presidential campaign. Emanuel persuaded Clinton to prioritize raising money. This, to put it lightly, caught up with him. And while Emanuel was never tied to the fund-raising chicanery involving forgotten names like James Riady, Yah Lin Trie, and John Huang, it was that zeal for cash that provided Clinton’s Presidency its original taint of scandal. Obsessive fund-raising is also the foundation of Emanuel’s political operation in Chicago. When two reporters for the Chicago Reader filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the mayor’s private schedule in 2011 (unlike previous mayors, his public schedule was pretty much blank), they discovered that he almost never met with community leaders. He did, however, spend enormous blocks of time with the rich businessmen, including Republicans, who had showered him with cash.

There are moral complaints to be made about this, to be sure. But the behavior has also failed Emanuel on political grounds: when he found himself in trouble, he was left without a broad base of political support, unlike the previous mayor, Richard M. Daley, who in similar straits fell back on his close relationships in all fifty city wards. When one of those rich Republicans donors—Bruce Rauner, with whom Rahm has vacationed—became Illinois’s governor, last year, at least the scolds could comfort themselves that their mayor would enjoy privileged access to lobby for the city’s needs. But that hasn’t worked, either: instead, Rauner has given Rahm the cold shoulder.

But return to Washington in the early nineteen-nineties, when a grateful Clinton awarded his young charge a prominent White House role. There, Emanuel’s prodigious energy, along with his contempt for what he called “liberal theology,” rocketed him higher and higher into the Clinton stratosphere. “He gets things done,” Clinton’s chief of staff, Erskine Bowles, enthused late in 1996, when Emanuel usurped George Stephanopoulos as senior adviser for policy and strategy. Among his special projects was helping to pass the North American Free Trade Agreement and the 1994 crime bill. He also tried to push Clinton to the right on immigration, advising the President, in a memo in November, 1996,to work to “claim and achieve record deportations of criminal aliens.” These all, in the fullness of time, turned out to be mistakes.

nafta, in alienating the Party’s working-class base, contributed to the Democrats losing control of the House of Representatives in 1994. As for the crime bill, which included a “three strikes” provision that mandated life terms for criminals convicted of violent crimes even if their other two offenses were nonviolent, Clinton himself has apologized for it, saying that the policy “made the problem worse.” The attempt to out-Republican the Republicans on immigration never took off. Republicans are the party solely associated with vindictive immigration policies, which leaves them in the long-term crisis they’re finding themselves in now—identified as anathema by Latinos, the nation’s fastest-growing ethnic group. If Rahm had had his way, that never would have happened.

After Washington, Emanuel made eighteen million dollars in two and a half years as an investment banker. (His buddy Rauner helped get him his job.) He came back home—although diehards will insist that Emanuel isn’t really a Chicagoan, having grown up in suburban Wilmette—and won a congressional seat in 2004. His next step was chairing the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, in charge of recruiting House candidates. In 2006, he got credit when Democrats took back the lower chamber. One Democratic strategist from California who saw him working a room of worshipful admirers shortly afterward marvelled, “Inside the Beltway, Rahm is like … well, not Dylan or Madonna but maybe Britney or Paris.”

But that achievement disintegrates the more closely it’s examined. At the D-Trip, as the D.C.C.C. is known, Emanuel aggressively recruited right-leaning candidates, frequently military veterans, including former Republicans. But many of his hand-picked choices fared poorly, losing in general elections. Some even lost in their primaries, to candidates backed by liberals—many of whom won congressional seats resoundingly, even after the D.C.C.C. abandoned them.

Victory, like defeat, can have a hundred fathers, and we can’t know what was ultimately responsible for the Democrats’ success that November. Anger at Republicans for the Iraq War (which Emanuel supported) certainly drove many voters’ decisions. What is indisputable is that the 2006 majority proved to be a rickety one. Critics argue that, even where Emanuel’s strategy succeeded in the short term, it undermined the party over time. One of his winners, the football star Heath Shuler, of North Carolina, would not even commit to vote for Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House, and was one of many Rahm recruits to vote against important Obama Administration priorities, like economic stimulus, banking reform, and health care. Many are no longer congressmen. Some Democrats now argue that, in the long run, 2006 might have weakened the Party more than it strengthened it. “Rahm’s recruitment strategy” was “catastrophic,” the retired record executive Howie Klein, who helps run a political action committee that funds liberal congressional challengers, said, and it contributed to the massive G.O.P. majorities we have now, the biggest since the nineteen-twenties.

Obviously, that conclusion wasn’t shared by Barack Obama in 2009, when he named Emanuel as his White House chief of staff. There, however, Emanuel’s signature strategy—committing Obama only to initiatives they knew in advance would succeed, in order to put “points on the board”—nearly waylaid the President’s most historic accomplishment: health-care reform. Emanuel wanted to scale it back almost to the vanishing point. It took a concerted effort by Speaker Pelosi to convince the President otherwise. This time, it was Emanuel who apologized: “Thank God for the country he didn’t listen to me,” he said after the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare, in 2012.

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By then Emanuel had became the mayor of Chicago, elected with fifty-five per cent of the vote in the spring of 2011. Since then, there have been so many scandals in Emanuel’s administration that have failed to gain traction that it’s hard to single them out. One signature idea was lengthening Chicago’s school day by thirty per cent—controversial because he proposed compensating teachers only two per cent more for the extra work. The Chicago public-schools inspector general was soon investigating allegations that a local pastor linked to Emanuel was arranging buses to pack public hearings with supporters of the idea, paying at least two “protesters” twenty-five to fifty dollars each.

The city also rolled out a new “smart card” system for customers to pay transit fares, a product of the San Diego-based defense contractor Cubic. The system, known as Ventra, worked about as well as Lucille Ball on a factory production line: some people would get on the bus for free, while others would be charged several times. The cards were supposed to double as debit cards for Chicago’s “unbanked” poor. But buried deep within the thousand-page contract with Cubic were nice little Easter eggs, like the seven-dollar fee for customers who didn’t use the card for eighteen months, and another five dollars tacked on for each dormant month after that.

The manager of Cubic’s Chicago division while the project was under negotiation had previously been the Chicago Transit Authority’s vice-president for technology; then, when it came time for implementation, he spun back through the revolving door to his former city job. Well, that’s Chicago. Then Emanuel promoted the C.T.A. chief responsible for the system as his mayoral chief of staff. Then he appointed him as the Chicago public schools’ C.E.O., following the resignation of his previous pick, Barbara Byrd-Bennett, ahead of an indictment for a kickback scheme, to which she later pleaded guilty.

Byrd-Bennett had taken over the job from an unfortunate gentleman named Jean-Claude Brizard, who was forced to take the fall when Emanuel lost a teachers’ strike in 2012.* She was then tasked with another of Emanuel’s sketchy initiatives: closing fifty-four schools, many of which were in the city’s black neighborhoods. Why were forty-nine pillars of community stability ultimately shuttered? Suspicions of venal motives abounded, but nobody could really be sure. A fact-check by Chicago’s public-radio station, WBEZ, discovered that many of the facts that the city gave about the decision were not accurate. But don’t confuse that inquiry with a joint investigation by WBEZ and the schools magazine Catalyst Chicago which discovered that Emanuel’s claim about high-school-graduation rates—that they would increase by fifteen percentage points—was also a mirage. (Dropouts are reassigned to for-profit online education programs that demand very little work, and then are awarded diplomas from the school they last attended or one near where they live.) Or with the multi-part series by Chicago magazine that blew the mayor’s claims about Chicago’s supposedly declining homicide rates out of the water, too. (One method: categorizing homicide victims as “noncriminal deaths.”)

Now the sins of Emanuel are finally catching up with him. Lucky for him, however, the compounding police-shooting scandal has erased from the news a peccadillo from this past November: the mayor’s press team was eavesdroppingand recording reporters while they interviewed aldermen critical of the mayor. A spokesman responded to the press by saying that their only intent was also “to make sure reporters have what you need, which is exactly what you have here.” That made no sense. But then so much of the legend of Rahm Emanuel’s brilliant career makes little sense. The bigger question, perhaps, is what this says about a political party and the political press that bought the legend in the first place.

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NRA 2016 Targeted Toss Up Senate Races

By Bridget Birchett- September 30, 2016

NRA  2016 Targeted Senate Toss Up Races

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 Environmental Advisor Kathleen McGinty  (D)  PA                       Senator Pat Toomey   (R)     PA

 

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Former U S Representative Patrick Murphy (D)  FL

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Senator Marco Rubio  (R)   FL

 

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Former State Rep. Deborah Ross  (D) NC                             Senator Richard Burr  (R)  NC

 2014 NRA Attack Ad against Senator Mary Landrieu  

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           Senator   Kelley Ayote   (R)  NH                                        Governor Maggie Hassan (D)  NH

 

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         Senator Roy Blunt (R)  MO                                        Secretary of State Jason Kander  (D)  MO  

 

evan-bayh                   Former US Senator   Evan Bayh  (D) IN        Representative Todd Young  (R)  IN

 

 

The Top Concern for Young Women This Election- New Research gives a peak into the Minds of the Voters who could decide this Election

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Given that almost 40 percent of American voters do not consider themselves Democrats or Republicans, it’s no surprise that pollsters spend so much of election season focused on independent voters. According to the latest Pew research, these voters now account for a bigger share of the electorate than either Republicans or Democrats, who make up 32 percent and 23 percent of the electorate, respectively.

Which means that to win what has to become one of the oddest and most bitter races of all time, both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton need to sway the men and women who just don’t know whether they want to build a wall around America or stand #StrongerTogether in November. The candidates have to make a case for themselves that will convince them to show up at the polls in November. But how?

OVER AND OVER, WOMEN OF COLOR AND MILLENNIAL WOMEN PRIORITIZED GUN CONTROL, THE COST OF HIGHER EDUCATION, AND WOMEN’S ACCESS TO REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH CARE OVER OTHER CONCERNS.

The pollsters at American Women, the affiliated research arm of EMILY’s List, looked at this critical demographic to assess their concerns and priorities in the upcoming election. The organization surveyed 800 voters, breaking the sample size down by gender (376 men, 424 women) and then further analyzing millennial women (152), women of color (121), and independent women (125).

Unsurprisingly, researchers found that both men and women feel that the most critical issue in this election and for American families is the economy. But when the data is examined further, essential differences reveal themselves. Over and over, women of color and millennial women prioritized gun control, the cost of higher education, and women’s access to reproductive health care over other concerns. American Women discovered that 9 of 10 millennial women and women of color favor required background checks and think that people on the terrorist watch list shouldn’t be allowed to purchase guns. The evidence is overwhelming: Despite their varied circumstances, independent women voters, young women, and women of color all rank gun violence as a top concern in this election.

“This new research is loud and clear: the number one concern for women is security—economic security for our families, our nation’s security from terrorist threats, and personal security from gun violence,” says Kate Black, executive director of American Women. The trend could indicate that mass shootings and more widely reported gun violence has had an impact on women, in particular, causing them to rethink their stances on gun laws.

9 OF 10 MILLENNIAL WOMEN AND WOMEN OF COLOR FAVOR REQUIRED BACKGROUND CHECKS.

American Women found that the second highest issue of importance for women, young women, women of color, and independent women was ensuring equal pay for equal work, a move they believe will better “secure” our economic future. Black stresses that women will show up for candidates who can deliver more than ideology.” Ultimately, she says, “[w]omen are ready to vote for leaders who will to take a stand and support real action.”

Rahm Emanuel “Strong Mayor”- Battle with the Southside Of Chicago and the Forces in Blue

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by Bridget Birchett, September 8th 2016

“Strong Mayor” Series 2016

Gun Violence in the City of Chicago

Forty Six Blue will take a look at “Strong Mayor” Rahm Emanuel Mayor of the City of Chicago. Gun Violence in the City of Chicago has reached epidemic proportions. What will Mayor Emanuel’s answer be to his City’s cry for Peace and Justice ?

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Mayor Jim Kenney “Strong Mayor”-Raised the Bar High- With a Bold Progressive Agenda

 The Philadelphia Soda Tax

by Bridget Birchett -September 6, 2016

Power & Influence – No Chasing

Mayor Kenney  sworn in as the  99th Mayor of City of Philadelphia the 5th largest city in the US. Born and raised in Philadelphia and a former City Council Official, he  clearly has his finger on the pulse of the city.

On Thursday June 16th, 2016 Soda Tax passes; Philadelphia is the first big city in the Nation to enact one. The 13 -4 vote put to bed months of speculation and at times bitter negotiations, but ensured that the national spotlight will stay turned Philadelphia for months if not years.

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Mayor Kenney who can count this as the first major political victory of his term called it a start to  “changing the narrative of poverty in our City.” The City will start collecting the tax in January 2017. The Tax is expected to raise $91 million annually and fund City projects including pre-K expansion the creation of community schools and investment in parks and recreation centers.

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Mayor Kenney signing Soda Tax Legislation in presence of  City Council members.

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City Council passed the first budget of Mayor Kenney’s administration  Thursday June 16th, 2016 a $4.19 billion plan that includes funding for prekindergarten, community schools, and parks and recreation improvements paid for by a beverage tax.

The budget, passed on the final day of Council’s spring session, has $20 million more spending than when first proposed in March, and $192 million more than the city’s 2016 budget.

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Big City “Strong Mayor’s” VS City Council Manage Mayor’s-What’s the Difference? They play BIG not small

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Forty Six Blue takes a look at the Nation’s Democratic  “Strong Mayor” playing Big in major Cities throughout the US. Our series starts Tuesday September 6th . First Mayor will be newly elected Mayor Jim Kenney of the City of Philadelphia. Philadelphia is the 5th largest City in the Nation. They have worked hard to earned that spot. Below are the list of the top 5 big city Mayor’s playing BIG not small.

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POWER and INFLUENCE- they already have it !

 

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio “Strong Mayor”

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City of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti

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City of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel

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City of Houston Mayor  Sylvester Turner

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