Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel Must Be Impeached If Democracy Means Anything

Rahm Emanuel has proven himself the most roughly drawn, one-dimensional of comic book villains. An insult to the city's intelligence and sustainability.

It’s the Tuesday evening after Thanksgiving in Chicago, and many residents remain stuffed with love, food and family memories. That comforting fullness belies the unsettling recent Windy City events culminating in today’s instantly-infamous press conference. Mayor Rahm Emanuel summoned a media pool to announce the ouster of beleaguered police Superintendent Garry F. McCarthy. For the latter’s role in the total desecration of transparency and justice that was, is and forever will be the Laquan McDonald murder case, as well as his failure to address the CPD’s systemic cancers, good riddance doesn’t begin to cover it.

But the satisfaction of a moment is hardly enough to counteract the sense of national shame. Until now the city’s reputation as the most corrupt in America was a joke with which we could laugh along, even as we watched the successive administrations of Daley and Emanuel sell public assets and trust out from under our literal feet. We could fool ourselves with talk of recessions and competitiveness, or at least indulge in bad Sean Connery impressions, brouging about “The Chicago Way.” We were sort of proud of our failure to thrive, shrugging our shoulders with a tired smile.

But all remnants of fun expired just before lunch today. What we are left with is the certainty that we are still being told lies. That fraud on top of coverup is still happening, right now. And the perp with the most blood on his hands is walking around freely – straight out of the press room and back into control of our city’s schools, finances and law enforcement.

Did former Superintendent McCarthy concoct the preemptive settlement (using taxpayer funds) with the McDonald family after the 2014 killing? Nope. Per a mid-November article from Justin Glawe of The Daily Beast:

“Mayor Rahm Emanuel and officials both in city government and within the Chicago Police Department have said the footage should remain sealed from public view. As part of a $5 million settlement between the city and the McDonald family, a judge barred attorneys from releasing the video.”

And who was it that unsuccessfully argued in a court of law, 13 months after McDonald’s murder and eight months after Emanuel’s tight re-election campaign (again using public funds), that releasing the video would compromise the “ongoing investigation?” That would be City Corporation Counsel Stephen Patton, acting on behalf of the Mayor.

McCarthy’s most egregious error, as writer Mark Konkol identifies it, is actually his blind support and fall in deference to Emanuel. The fired cop is little more than “a political peace offering to black ministers who helped keep protests peaceful after the world saw the video of a Chicago police officer pumping 16 bullets into a black teenager.”

Don’t say, as the Chicago Tribune‘s Scott Stantis and other pundits have tried, that we can’t impeach Rahm Emanuel because there’s no government mechanism for doing so. With all due sneering at the Windy City’s joke of a City Council, let’s create one. Illinois passed a state law last decade to help unseat former Governor Rod Blagojevich – because it was the right thing to do in the face of flagrant, illegal conduct. We are the city that reversed the flow of the mighty Chicago River in 1900 to rid ourselves of toxic filth. We can do it again. We must. If not, we are officially, if passively, surrendering to an Orwellian dystopia. And we can’t complain about anything else from here.

I’m attending my Alderman’s Ward night (Ameya Pawar – 47th) tomorrow evening. I encourage all Chicago residents to do the same. The change we need is going to have to bubble up from the bottom.

I expect it to be a busy two hours. But if I make it to the front of the line for a meeting with the neighborhood’s elected representative, I’m going to tell him in the strongest, most profane-free words I can muster. Rahm Emanuel has got to go. It is the Mayor who has “become an issue, rather than dealing with the issue, and a distraction.” I’m still struggling to understand the level of hypocrisy it took for Emanuel to utter that statement regarding anyone involved in the murder/coverup of Laquan McDonald besides himself. With a straight, even victimized face. On camera.

Rahm Emanuel has proven himself the most roughly drawn, one-dimensional of comic book villains. An insult to the city’s intelligence and sustainability. But this is not Gotham, and the Dark Knight won’t be coming to save us. No, Chicago. We’re going to have to do that on our own. Instead of embracing, or at the very least ignoring, the cartoonish city corruption, discrimination, segregation and corporate raiding that have become an extremist microcosm of the country’s greatest ills, let’s give their ambassador a hard shove of rejection. Let’s be a genuine populist democracy, shake off the civic lethargy and get this recall done.

Becky Sarwate is the current President of the Illinois Woman’s Press Association, founded in 1885, as well as Recording Secretary for the National Federation of Press Women. She is a national award-winning journalist, blogger, newsletter editor and theater critic. Becky lives in Chicago with her partner Bob and their menagerie of pets. Keep up with her at
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