Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Friday called Democratic governor candidate Chris Kennedy’s claim that the mayor is making Chicago “whiter” and wealthier a “hallucinatory” insult.
Emanuel said he’s “looking forward to ideas, not insults” in his first public comments since Kennedy on Wednesday accused him of leading a “strategic gentrification plan” forcing African-American residents out of the city.
“It is easy to cast blame and point fingers,” the mayor said. “Where are the ideas? Where are the solutions, real solutions to real challenges that make those challenges opportunities?”
Emanuel also quoted a Chicago Tribune editorial that was critical of Kennedy’s comments. “As the Chicago Tribune referred to it today as imaginary, hallucinatory,” he said. “I hope nobody ever describes any of my ideas that way.” […]
On Friday, the mayor appeared before reporters at a factory in the heavily African-American South Austin neighborhood to talk about the city’s move to install new street lights, starting in black neighborhoods on the South and West sides. He was surrounded by several African-American aldermen and employees at the made-for-TV event and talked about offering job opportunities to ex-offenders and other Chicago residents as the kind of idea Kennedy should be pushing.
In his first public appearance after a long family vacation, Emanuel was asked why he believes African-Americans are leaving the city in droves and whether he’s troubled by it.
“Of course it troubles me. Which is why we’re making investments in the neighborhoods across the city,” the mayor said.
“That’s a longer discussion that’s worthy of a serious discussion of the change going on in the city and the population, where a lot more people are moving in. Different people. Some people are moving out. It has to do with a lot of different factors — not one factor…What do you do to change that? That’s different than trying to cast blame as if this is somebody’s plan.” […]
“If we continue to invest in our city and invest in every part of the city and give it a future where everybody feels hopeful about that tomorrow for not only them but their children, we’re gonna continue to be a city of vibrancy,” the mayor said Friday.
*** UPDATE *** Press release…
Statement from Rebecca Evans, spokeswoman for Chris Kennedy:
Unlike JB Pritzker, who continues to remain silent to protect the political establishment, Chris Kennedy has the political courage to speak truth to power. He will stand up to anyone regardless of party, position or influence if it means standing up for justice, equality and opportunity for everyone in Illinois.
Chris Kennedy isn’t hiding behind $17 million worth of scripted TV ads. He will use his voice to stand up for what is right even if it’s calling out inconvenient truths that are hurting people of color in Chicago.
He has said from the start of this campaign that he wants to dismantle the structural inequities that exist in our government. He has put forward real solutions and plans on how we can do it. We must allow an elected school board, stop closing public schools, put an end to the discriminatory property tax racket, and fully address the civil rights violations described in the Department of Justice’s report on the Chicago Police Department.