It’s our Rahm Emanuel First Anniversary discussion today, although, truthfully, a proper evaluation of his first year should be withheld until Tuesday, so it can include a post-mortem on the NATO conference.
But we press on anyway, with a stellar panel. Tim Jones (Bloomberg News) is upbeat about Emanuel’s first year, expressing appreciation for the mayor’s fundraising prowess. “It’s a continuation of the campaign. I don’t think the campaign has stopped,” he says.
Kristen Mack has followed Rahm Emanuel from the very beginning, covering those frigid el-station appearances and the never-ending residency hearings. She says there were no poster boards displaying his checked-off accomplishments for the first anniversary, as there were at 30 and 60 days. This time, she says, he’s watching as reporters do their own analysis – but reminding them that he feel he’s “given Chicago its swagger back – its confidence back. ”
The BGA’s Andy Shaw has a unique perspective, having covered the entire Richard M. Daley administration as a TV reporter. During Emanuel’s year, he’s been building the BGA as not only a watchdog organization but also a journalism shop. So in a sense he’s still reporting. He, too is largely upbeat about Emanuel, giving high marks for his energy and willingness to try new approaches. But he says the public isn’t buying all the hype. “I think there’s a lot of cynicism. People understand that no amount of energy and pizazz is going to solve these intractable problems.”
And there’s a point of agreement among all three guests. Emanuel’s first year was largely very lucky. Despite the rising murder rate, no huge scandals or unmanageable political issues arose. Even the weather was pleasant. But next year’s going to be tough, with a potential teachers’ strike, difficult police and fire negotiations, staggering pension burdens and all the rest.
So next year’s evaluation might paint a more realistic picture.