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Pro-Emanuel Super PAC Aiming To Solidify City Council Rubber Stamp

By Chuck Sudo in News on Aug 28, 2014 2:20PM

Photo credit: © 2014, Brooke Collins/City of Chicago

When it comes to votes on his agenda, Mayor Rahm Emanuel already enjoys a mostly lockstep City Council. The pro-Emanuel super PAC “Chicago Forward” sent out a questionnaire to 53 possible aldermanic candidates to gauge how deeply they’ll support Emanuel’s postelection agenda.

The form, which phrases questions in a simple “yes” and “no” format, asks candidates if they would support Emanuel’s push for a $13-an-hour minimum wage; tougher gun laws; and rebuilding the city’s crumbling infrastructure and how to fund those projects. But, as the Sun-Times notes, it’s the first three questions on the form that may have candidates swallowing hard before answering.

Two of the questions are related to Emanuel’s ongoing education agenda and ask if candidates would support “high-quality school choices for families that include neighborhood, charter, IB, STEM, magnet and selective enrollment schools,” as well as an elected school board. On the subject of an elected school board the question is framed with the caveat that some “believe this would further politicize our city’s public education system.”

The first question on the form asks if candidates would support “tough, but necessary steps, such as increases in property taxes or additional efficiencies throughout city government” so that the city can reduce its structural deficit and “preserve critical services.” And we all know how homeowners react when the words “property tax hike” are uttered.

Becky Carroll, the former Chicago Public Schools chief of communications and PR attack dog behind Chicago Forward, told the Sun-Times the form was not sent to incumbent aldermen because their voting records already indicate their positions on the issues raised on the questionnaire.

“This questionnaire will allow us to better understand where aldermanic candidates stand and help us to both plan our strategies well in advance of the election and be more nimble as races tighten up. We want to be well ahead of the curve so, as dynamics change ward by ward, we can be more flexible in directing our resources. That’s why we’re starting so early.”

Carroll, in her own peculiar way, essentially is telling prospective aldermanic candidates “you’re either with us or against us.” Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd), one of a handful of aldermen who regularly vote against Emanuel on Council matters, wrote on his Facebook page, “Job offer: no ability to think on behalf of anyone else required.”

Emanuel already enjoys a healthy majority in City Council votes. A study released last year by University of Illinois at Chicago political science professor Dick Simpson revealed “21 aldermen voted to support Mayor Emanuel's position 100% of the time and 18 aldermen voted with him over 90% of the time” during his first two years as mayor. Color us surprised. We distinctly remember Candidate Emanuel promising to encourage debate on the Council floor and that he wouldn’t tolerate the lockstep votes enjoyed by Richard M. Daley.

The questionnaire supports a charge by Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) that one of Chicago Forward’s main objectives is to remove obstacles to Emanuel implementing his agenda, particularly the City Council Progressive Caucus of Fioretti, Waguespack, Leslie Hairston (5th), Roderick Sawyer (6th), Toni Foulkes (15th), Ricardo Munoz (22nd), Nick Sposato (36th) and John Arena (45th).

Carroll didn’t deny that when she spoke with the Sun-Times and said the super PAC is prepared to “bring to light the record of those who are interested in moving the city backwards.” Chicago Forward has already raised $1.35 million to spend on the campaign funds of Emanuel and pro-Emanuel candidates. Carroll said to expect even more money when Chicago Forward releases its quarterly report at the end of September.