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Emanuel, Burke Bury Hatchet Amid City Budget Deficit

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Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel (left); Ald. Ed Burke (CBS)

Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel (left); Ald. Ed Burke (CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS/WBBM) — It was good news-bad news for Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel on Friday as new city budget numbers emerged.

He’s facing a $587 million budget deficit when he takes office May 16, but it could have been much worse.

CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports the next mayor plans to dig himself out of the hole with help from Ald. Ed Burke, who backed Emanuel opponent Gery Chico in the mayoral election.

Burke and Emanuel had a summit around the kitchen table at Ald. Pat O’Connor’s Northwest Side home. They reportedly agreed there was no time to waste on political squabbling.

They also ultimately agreed that Burke, whose knowledge of budget matters is unparalleled, would retain his powerful post as Finance Committee chairman. That virtually eliminates the possibility of a council war.

“I was never convinced there was going to be a clash of the Titans,” Ald. Joe Moore said. “Both Ed Burke and Rahm Emanuel are smart men. They understand the challenges facing the city today and they understand it’s in neither of their political interests as well as the interests of the city for them to do battle.”

The apparent truce between the incoming mayor and the city’s most powerful alderman was apparently brokered by Mayor Daley’s floor leader, O’Connor, who will reportedly fill that role for Emanuel.

He’ll take office as the financial picture is brightening somewhat, with deficit projections coming down. The city’s unreserved cash balance is $65 million more than expected.

“It’s moving in the right direction,” Daley budget director Gene Munin told reporters Friday.

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Munin says the post-season appearances of two Chicago sports teams, the Blackhawks and the Bulls, have helped by generating an additional $180,000 per game. The Hawks were phased out early, but the Bulls continue in the second round of their league’s playoffs.

“We certainly hope the Bulls keep playing well into June, and it would be nice to see the Cubs and Sox win and sell more tickets as well,” Munin said.

Emanuel has pledged another $75 million in cuts after he takes office, but that still leaves a $500 million hole which, by law, must be eliminated by the end of the year.

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