Rahm Emanuel is Chicago’s better choice

Despite my personal issues with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, he is the better choice over Cook County Commissioner Jesus Chuy Garcia. Although I hope Mayor Emanuel will change his policies and open the doors of his administration to American Arabs, there are bigger issues involving the future of Chicago at stake that take higher precedence.

By Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania NewI pity the people of Chicago. On April 7, they must choose between the lesser of two evils: Mayor Rahm Emanuel or Jesus “Chuy” Garcia. Which will pull Chicago out of its growing financial and social abyss?

The ad campaigns of both are disappointing. All they do is bash each other. Neither tells anyone what they plan to do about Chicago’s problems.

It’s one reason why I am glad my parents fled Chicago in the 1960s. I didn’t have to experience the deteriorating school system, the rising crime or have to ride the crime-ridden CTA system to and from work.

As a suburbanite, I enjoyed more of life. I still found work in Chicago’s downtown, rushing out before sunset.

Yet, I recognize that Chicago is the economic engine that drives northern Illinois and the suburbs. And if Chicago collapses like Detroit did, Chicago’s suburban communities will suffer, too.

The relationship between Chicago and its suburbs is a lot different than Detroit and its suburbs. There’s no comparison. We’re much tighter, and the powers that control Chicago in Springfield also control the fate of the suburbs, too.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel

So, even as a suburbanite, I care about who wins. Personally, my favorite candidate in the February 24 election was Alderman Bob Fioretti. Fioretti had a stronger handle on Chicagoland issues as a member of the Chicago City Council which deals with $8.9 billion in spending.

In contrast, Garcia was a lackluster former Chicago alderman manipulated by slickster Congressman Luis Gutierrez. Garcia is now a member of the Cook County board, dealing with a budget of only $3.9 billion.

I always found it hard to believe that Gutierrez wasn’t playing both sides when he backed Emanuel. Gutierrez and Garcia were always attached at the political hip.

Ironically, looking back, if Gutierrez had endorsed Garcia, Emanuel might have done worse and Garcia would have done better. If residents of Gutierrez’s district are upset, they might turn their voter against against Gutierrez who never missed an opportunity to exploit an issue for his own selfish interests.

But Fioretti was never popular with the leftwing movement that surrounded Garcia, and he couldn’t cut away at Emanuel’s base. Fioretti couldn’t compete with Emanuel’s campaign cash, more than $14 million. But, had Fioretti made it into the runoff April 7, I know he would have won. A good person and public servant, Fioretti is tragic spilled milk at this point in the mayoral race, although his endorsement of Emanuel has helped give Emanuel the edge to finally surpass 50 percent popularity in the voter polls.

On April 7, Chicago voters will have to choose between Emanuel and Garcia. As an American Arab, I am no fan of Emanuel, even though I endorsed him four years ago believing that he would be fair.

Instead, his first act was to abolish the Arab Advisory Commission, then pull the rug out from under the Arabesque Festival. He shut out most American Arabs from his administration and prefers to work with non-Arab Muslims instead.

Garcia has catered to the disenfranchised American Arabs, promising to restore the Advisory Commission, the Arabesque Festival and treat American Arabs like human beings, something Emanuel has not done.

But the future of Chicago is about more than Emanuel’s discrimination against American Arabs. It’s about which of the two candidates is more qualified to run Chicago.

Emanuel isn’t great, and he needs to make some improvements, but Garcia would be worse.

I’d rather see Emanuel win, and continue my campaign to convince him to recognize American Arabs rights, rather than see Garcia win and drag the city down. There’s somewhat of a future with Emanuel, but little hope with Garcia.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media consulting. Reach him at [email protected]. This column appeared in the Southwest News-Herald Newspaper, the Regional News Newspaper, the Palos Reporter Newspaper and the Des Plaines Valley News.)

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

Blogger, Columnist at Illinois News Network Online
Ray Hanania is senior blogger for the Illinois News Network news site. He is an award winning former Chicago City Hall political reporter and columnist who covered the beat from 1976 through 1992 (From Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley). And, Hanania is a stubborn and loud critic of the biased mainstream American news media.

Hanania Chicago political beats and Chicago City Hall at the Daily Southtown Newspapers (1976-1985) and the Chicago Sun-Times (1985-1992). He published the The Villager Community Newspapers covering 12 Southwest suburban regions (1993-1997). Hanania also hosted live political news radio talkshows on WLS AM (1980 - 1991), and also on WBBM FM, WLUP FM, WSBC AM in Chicago, and WNZK AM in Detroit.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. He currently is syndicated through Creators Syndicate. He has written for the Jerusalem Post, YNetNews.com, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star of Lebanon, the News of the World in London, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, The Saudi Gazette, the Arab News in Jeddah, and Aramco Magazine.

Hanania's Chicagoland columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald, the Des Plaines Valley News, the Regional News and the Palos Reporter newspapers.

He is President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.

His personal website is www.TheMediaOasis.com. Email him at: [email protected]
Ray Hanania

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