Politico’s Illinois inaugural Playbook Breakfast event this morning was marked by a rather heated exchange between Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the publication’s chief political reporter Mike Allen after he asked a question about the mayor’s planned family vacation to Cuba.
“Well, first of all, thanks for telling everyone what I’m going to do with my family,” snapped Emanuel. “You just had a private conversation with me and now you decide to make that public,” he added. “I really don’t appreciate that.”
Allen apologized, but the mayor wasn’t having any of it.
“I’m expressing to you publicly my displeasure. My family's trips are my family,” he said.
The mayor then went onto say that these trips are a way to expose their children to different lifestyles and cultures, along with seeing other parts of the world. It's what Emanuel’s parents did with him growing up. It's a time where the mayor can be 100 percent attentive to his children.
“And, yes, this year if my wife [Amy Rule] doesn’t kill me now because of what you just did, we will take out kids to Cuba to be exposed to that culture the same way they’ve been to India and the same way that they have been to Uganda, Kenya, Zambia, Chile and Vietnam and Laos. I can’t wait—can you give me your cell number, because I’d like you to listen to Amy,” he said.
Allen tried again to apologize.
“I don’t know if you know this: It’s not gonna work,” said the mayor.
Yet, that wasn’t the only tense moment of the event. Politico added that there were several such exchanges, including one where the mayor insisted that he would not resign in the wake of the video release showing the shooting death of Laquan McDonald by Chicago police on October 20, 2014. Officer Jason Van Dyke has been charged with first-degree murder; McDonald was hit 16 times.
“No," he said, during one of several testy exchanges through the course of a nearly hour-long discussion with POLITICO's Mike Allen and POLITICO Illinois' Natasha Korecki. "Because I really so much looked forward to this interview and I wanted to have it. I just felt so good saying that to you. We have a process called the election. The voters spoke. I'll be held accountable for the decisions and actions that I make."
While Emanuel and his lawyers have fought for much of the past year to keep the police dashboard video of the October 2014 shooting from public eyes, citing concerns the footage could compromise the investigations into McDonald's death, a Cook County judge's ruling forced the release of the video last week. The outrage was swift, prompting days of protests surrounding the Thanksgiving holiday.
In a sign of the pressure Emanuel is under, the New York Times late Tuesday issued a scathing editorial entitled “The Chicago Police Scandal” in which the paper said, “All along, Mr. Emanuel’s response, either by design or because of negligence, was to do as little as possible — until the furor caused by the release of the video forced his hand. The residents of Chicago will have to decide whether that counts as taking responsibility.”
Yesterday, the mayor fired Chicago police superintendent Garry McCarthy. Emanuel now has to navigate the political, and now, racially sensitive waters in finding a replacement (via Chicago Sun-Times):
Hispanic elected officials will almost certainly demand that the permanent job be awarded to First Deputy Police Superintendent John Escalante, who will serve as acting superintendent until a permanent replacement is chosen.
But Escalante is already a political flashpoint. McCarthy’s decision to appoint him to replace retiring First Deputy Al Wysinger, who is African-American, infuriated the City Council’s Black Caucus and triggered demands for McCarthy’s ouster even before the Laquan McDonald video was made public.
Hispanics may also lobby behind the scenes for Hiram Grau, the former Chicago deputy superintendent and former state police director who was chosen by Emanuel to recommend police reforms as part of a five-member Task Force on Police Accountability.
Having succeeded in forcing Emanuel’s hand, black elected officials are equally certain to demand that McCarthy’s replacement be an African-American to restore public confidence between citizens and police in the black community so shaken by the department’s handling of the McDonald shooting.
Several aldermen are openly lobbying for Wysinger’s return, even though he is best remembered for being the statue who stood motionless behind McCarthy at news conferences.