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Rahm’s Priorities

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Rahm Emmaunel, having failed in his all-too-valiant effort to kill health care reform, has been even worse as mayor of Chicago than I would have thought, which is really saying something. This is particularly special:

It all starts with the person who seems committed to win the current spirited competition as the most loathsome person in American political life: Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The same Mayor overseeing the closing of fifty-four schools and six community mental health clinics under the justification of a “budgetary crisis” has announced that the city will be handing over more than $100 million to DePaul University for a new basketball arena. This is part of a mammoth redevelopment project on South Lakeshore Drive consisting of a convention center anchored by an arena for a non-descript basketball team that has gone 47-111 over the last five years. It’s also miles away from DePaul’s campus. These aren’t the actions of a mayor. They’re the actions of a mad king.

If you want to understand why Mayor Rahm has approval ratings to rival Rush Limbaugh in Harlem, you can point to priorities like these. The school closures are taking place entirely in communities of color while the city’s elite feed with crazed abandon at an increasingly sapped trough. As Karen Lewis, the Chicago Teachers Union chief who led a victorious strike last September fueled by rage at Mayor Rahm, said, “When the mayor claims he is facing unprecedented budget problems, he has a choice to make. He is choosing between putting our communities first or continuing the practice of handing out millions of public dollars to private operators, even in the toughest of times.”

Education reform seemingly premised on the idea that Michelle Rhee is great except that she cares too much about poor people and is a little too honest and ridiculous stadium boondoggles — two awful tastes that, it must be admitted, fit perfectly together. It’s also probably worth noting here that the average attendance at DePaul hoops games is a little over 8,000.

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