Emanuel Devotes Inauguration Address To Chicago's "Often Invisible" Youth
By Rachel Cromidas in News on May 18, 2015 6:30PM
Rahm Emanuel made Chicago's "often invisible" impoverished youth the subject of his inaugural address as he was sworn in for his second term as the city's mayor on Monday morning.
In a speech that touched on poverty, segregation, education, gang violence and incarceration, Emanuel called on the aldermen and other elected officials present for their swearing in to have a heightened focus on the city's youth, whom he said "live in the recesses of our minds."
"A word to young people," he said, "We owe you a better chance, and you owe it to yourself and your family to make the most of it."
With a nod to the city and state's pension crisis and budget problems, Emanuel suggested that youth services should remain a priority.
"In a time of fiscal challenges, we can do more for our young people," he said. "Anything that stunts the hopes and expectations and opportunities for young Chicagoans undermines Chicago's future."
At the state level, first-term governor Bruce Rauner has caught ire for a budget-slashing proposal that would reduce or eliminate funding to social services organizations across the state, including homeless youth and mental health organizations. Rauner has said this hard stance is necessary to balance the state's troubled budget.
Emanuel glossed over those local and state fiscal problems, which are likely to be among the most pressing challenges of his second term, describing them as "not of our making"—though still City Hall's responsibility.
Former U.S. president Bill Clinton attended the ceremony at the Chicago Theatre but did not give a speech. He did however get a moment in the spotlight through Emanuel, who opened his speech by addressing a man in the audience who was repeatedly shouting "Nice!" throughout the ceremony.
"President Clinton says you have a limited vocabulary but a lot of energy," Emanuel said, getting laughs from the crowd.
With mounting pension debt, a federal investigation into his Chicago Public Schools CEO appointee and tense teachers union contract negotiations ahead, Emanuel has told the Chicago Tribune he plans to run his second term as if this year's heated election were his last. He said, "My attitude is: If I wasn't running for re-election, how would we approach it?"