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Rahm Emanuel seems to have come to the rather surprising
conclusion that he does not need the Chicago press in order to
shape Chicago public opinion. If anything, he seems slightly
antagonistic to the news media.
He seems to have made the calculation that the public will
side with him in his conflict with labor which is shaping up as
the defining issue of his administration. Rahm was not elected
to be a nice guy. He was elected to deal with the looming
fiscal crisis created by previous mayors' unaffordable largesse
to city workers in the matter of pension benefits.
Rahm sees that the public understands that in a funny way the
insider-outsider dynamic has been reversed in this instance.
Chicago's reporters know the union leaders; they have become
the bastions of the old guard who do not want change. It's
the Mayor who is the outsider fighting for reform.
Perhaps because people live longer than expected when the
contracts were negotiated, or perhaps because previous
mayors put political expediency before Chicago's long term
health, Chicago is stuck with pension obligations which
will cripple the ability of the city to invest in schools,
public transportation and environmental initiatives.
Do we pay for the future or past? Chicago elected Rahm
get us oriented to the future again - as painful as that is
given both Chicago's and Illinois's huge debt. The public
realizes pensions will have to be renegotiated. This is not
a matter of "throwing the workers under the bus"; it's a
matter of necessity.
Rahm and the electorate understand this. The Chicago press
by and large does not.
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