Lay off praising Rahm

By Samuel Charles

When Mayor Rahm Emanuel was seeking the highest government office in Chicago, his election seemed to be a foregone conclusion. He had the most money in his campaign war chest, the most notable endorsements and the most publicity.

But even with all that, less than half of the city’s registered voters came out to the polls on Election Day, maybe because they were disenchanted with city government, or maybe because they didn’t see their votes as important.

Having marked his first 100 days in office, Emanuel’s accomplishments during his short time at the helm need to be scrutinized.

On his first day, he slashed the city budget by $75 million. He has released the salaries of every employee of the City of Chicago, creating a level of transparency previously unheard of in our local government. He has held town hall-style gatherings in lower income communities to hear, firsthand, the problems facing constituents.

Now, in a perfect world, this is how a mayor should conduct himself. But here in Chicago, many voters—whether they actually vote or not—were dissatisfied with former

Mayor Richard M. Daley’s administration and policies. And because of the disengaged nature of Chicago voters, Emanuel’s efforts appear to be all the better.

Emanuel should be commended for his commitment to the working class and desire to make Chicago government more open and visible.

But these things should have been happening throughout Daley’s time in office. The only reason citizens of the city may be reacting so positively to the new administration’s actions is that they’ve never seen anything like them before.

If people are used to being neglected by their parents, it’s only natural to eventually lose faith in the idea they’ll ever show interest in them. So when a newer authority figure shows a genuine interest in them, why wouldn’t they feel better about government?

Emanuel has much left to do, and there’s no question it will be difficult.

But so far, he should be commended for what he has done. He didn’t do it solely because he wanted to; he did it because it’s right.

Praise for the new mayor and his actions should be held in check to a certain degree. Yes, it’s great to see an elected official engaging and listening to the people who put him in office. But before people get too excited about the image Emanuel’s office is trying to craft, it’s vital to remember that he is still a politician.

While his causes may be righteous and just — he’s still just doing the job he signed up for and nothing else.