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Paving Project — Real News, Or ‘Photo Op’ For Mayor Emanuel?

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(CBS) – Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s unannounced re-election effort finds him making near-daily stops to shore up his standing with voters who helped elect him in 2011.

He’s been announcing new supermarkets and touting progress in inner-city schools and fighting crime.

Thursday’s event in Bronzeville, according to chief correspondent Jay Levine, was also symbolic.

Paving streets to pave the way for his re-election — how’s that for symbolism?

Emanuel was already pledging to do more than 300 miles of city streets this year, before the latest photo-op to announce 10 more miles of resurfacing made possible by funds from the state’s capital bill passed just before the spring session ended.

Paving crews were already finishing up a two-mile stretch of King Drive in Bronzeville. The mayor showed up to shake their hands, accompanied by camera crews his people notified in advance.

Not lost on anyone was the mayor’s standing in the polls in Bronzeville and other inner-city neighborhoods, with some community leaders urging Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle to challenge Emanuel.

Teachers union President Karen Lewis has also expressed at least some interest in running. Lewis supporters were on hand to protest the closing of two neighborhood schools.

But other mayoral allies said politics was secondary.

“I don’t think it’s an election year move, I think it’s another example of trying to put people back to work,” Rep. Christian Mitchell, D-Chicago, said.

Even Rev. Leon Finney, one of those who stood with the Rev. Jesse Jackson this week to criticize the mayor and other Democratic leaders’ efforts to reduce violence, praised him Thursday.

“If you want to stop the shooting, you’ve got to get people to working,” he said.

In this case, Mayor Emanuel may be taking a page from former mayor Richard J. Daley’s playbook — the one that said “Good government is good politics.”

 

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