Mayor Rahm Emanuel gets a warm send-off from his colleagues at his final City Council meeting. Our politics team of Carol Marin, Paris Schutz and Amanda Vinicky tackles that and some of the behind-the-scenes maneuvering over Lincoln Yards in this week’s Spotlight Politics.
Emanuel got a standing ovation Wednesday as several aldermen listed the accomplishments over his two-term reign, from full-day kindergarten to major city developments to Chicago’s designation, for several years running, as the top city for corporate relocations.
Many aldermen became emotional when recounting their experiences working with Emanuel over the past eight years.
Outgoing 40th Ward Ald. Pat O’Connor recalled how former Mayor Richard M. Daley asked him to support Emanuel for North Side congressman back in the early 2000s. Then, when asked to support Emanuel for mayor in 2011, O’Connor says he didn’t hesitate.
“He called me and said, ‘Would you be with me?’ And I didn’t have any hesitation. I knew he would be good. I’ve enjoyed it. It’s been a privilege,” O’Connor said.
O’Connor held a prominent position throughout Emanuel’s tenure as the mayor’s floor leader, and more recently as the Finance Committee chairman. Ald. Carrie Austin, 34th Ward, also held a powerful post as Budget Committee chairwoman under Emanuel. She, too, had emotional parting words.
“When you made all-day kindergarten, I could have shouted,” Austin said. “Because that helped affect my grandchildren, and now my great-grandchildren.”
Perhaps the most striking words of the day came from embattled Ald. Ed Burke, 14th Ward, who stepped down from his post as Finance Committee chairman a day after being charged with one federal count of attempted extortion.
“It’s always honorable to leave this body on your own volition,” he said without any hint of irony. “The word ‘Emanuel’ appears in the Book of Isaiah, and it means, ‘God is with us,’ as a sign that God would protect the House of David. You, this Emanuel, has protected for eight years, the house of Chicago.”
Wednesday was also the last council meeting for many longtime aldermen, including O’Connor and Ald. Joe Moore, 49th Ward.