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Rahm Emanuel On Vision For City, Taxes And Deficit

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Rahm Emanuel

Rahm Emanuel (CBS file)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – No new taxes? Not so fast. Mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel, in an interview with CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine, clarified a statement he made on Saturday about tough budget choices the next mayor will face.

The other day, in Rahm Emanuel’s speech, he said: “This is no time to even talk about raising taxes.” Is that a pledge not to?

“What is a pledge is exactly what it says,” Emanuel said. “I can’t in good conscience look people in the eye and say, ‘this is about as good as we can get for your tax dollar. You’re getting the best bang out of your buck right now.’ And I don’t believe that’s true.”

Emanuel also talked about his vision for the city and how he planned to deal with its billion dollar deficit.

Emanuel spoke to CBS 2 after he’d toured Dodge Renaissance Academy, a West Side elementary school that’s gone from among the worst in the city to one of the best.

He had just introduced the concept of school report cards for parents. Accountability, he promised, to bring to all city departments.

Is he confident he will be able to come up with those changes and not have to go back and say we need more tax dollars?

“I think that I am confident that I think I can lead an effort that’s a top to bottom scrub of the city budget,” said Emanuel “I think the first fundamental question, and a lot of questions haven’t been asked in years, is should we even be doing this?”

As opposed to outsourcing, privatizing. For example, Emanuel proposes public employee-private contractor competition for garbage collection.

“We have to deliver a service for a better dollar,” said Emanuel. “I’m gonna give the people who do it today a chance to get it there. And I’m hoping they can get it there. If they can’t, we’ll go to the next step.”

He also envisions better bang for the buck fighting gangs and violence, hinting at reorganizing the police department.

“The core of the police department is the beat cop,” he said. “And everything we do is gonna be pushing accountability and responsibility, and resources to the beat cop.”

Emanuel was relaxed and comfortable talking about his vision for the city, downplaying personal ambition and accomplishment.

When asked if he considers it significant that he would be the first Jewish mayor of Chicago, Emanuel said, “That’s not how I would look at it. It would be about whether I could build a future that all Chicago could participate, regardless of my ethnicity, because Chicago is a fabric of a lot of different ethnicities. It may be an individual pride but that’s not what drives me.”

Jay Levine also asked Rahm Emanuel whether his temper, tactics and reputation would be a good fit for the face of Chicago. See Emanuel’s response in the video below:

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