On Sunday Salon published a description of Rahm Emanuel's management style that suggests he may inadvertently end the Imperial Mayor system we have in Chicago:
Emanuel faces scrutiny from groups [former mayor Richord M.] Daley never alienated: public sector unions, liberal progressives and minority coalitions on the city’s South and West side. Since his election, Emanuel’s approval numbers started dropping, and some are charging him as racist — a “murder mayor” deaf to the marginalized swaths of Chicago suffering from escalating street violence, inadequate transit and the largest mass school closing in U.S. history. While he reigns as mayor in a city traditionally ruled by Democrats, many consider him a Republican in donkey blue clothing, who, like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), swept into office and immediately hauled out the budget cleaver.
Emanuel is proposing a new [parking meter] deal [with Morgan Stanley] that once again made Sunday parking free, in exchange for allowing the company to extend parking hours, up to 10 p.m., in some neighborhoods. Emanuel’s talking point for selling the swap is “trying to make a little lemonade out of a big lemon.” But many aldermen, spurred by local media reports that Emanuel’s numbers were flawed — and worried their constituents will run them out of town on a rail — are demanding hard data from city hall to determine if, indeed, the numbers add up in their favor.
And then today the Tribune has an embarrassing bit about red-light cameras:
Mayor Rahm Emanuel accepted $10,000 in campaign contributions from the spouses of two top executives of a longtime city contractor that is also vying to take over the city's beleaguered red light camera program.
The mayor's Chicago for Rahm Emanuel campaign fund has reported two contributions from the wives of SDI's top executives, although in neither case is the connection to SDI disclosed by the Emanuel campaign. One $5,000 donation was reported Dec. 28, 2012, from Gupta's wife, Dawn. Campaign records identify her as the founder of a small holistic health company created in September called Balex LLC.
The other $5,000 contribution to Emanuel was reported Jan. 10 from a woman listed as a “homemaker” named Debra Diver. She is the wife of Brian Diver, the president and chief operating officer at SDI.
Notice that both of these scandals revolve around Chicago's largest public asset: its road network. We have over 6,000 km of streets, and tens of thousands of metered parking spaces. People understand roads. And schools, but that's a bigger topic.