CHICAGO (WBBM/CBS) — The transition plan that Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel unveiled this week is a blueprint for how he intends to change things at City Hall.
Better Government Association president and chief executive officer Andy Shaw spoke with WBBM Newsradio 780’s Regine Schlesinger and Kris Kridel about whether the new administration will bring real reform and change.
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Shaw says Emanuel deserves credit for coming up with the plan.
“You have to be impressed, Regine, with the fact that they spend the last couple of months of the transition putting together a very ambitious blueprint – short on specific details, but very long on goals – 55 goals for improving the city put together by 100 people over 29 meetings, with $200,000 raised from foundations,” Shaw said. “So you have to give the mayor-elect credit for walking the walk after talking the talk, and at least initiating the discussion about all these benchmarks he’s going to be measuring performance based on, so it’s an impressive start.”
Emanuel frequently talks about reform as he awaits his entry into the mayor’s office. But Schlesinger points out that calls for reform often turn out just to be rhetorical, given that the culture in City Hall is so entrenched.
Shaw conceded that Emanuel has broken promises in the past, but he said Emanuel’s transition plan will serve to ensure the new mayor is held accountable for making good on his stated goals.
“To the credit of Mayor-elect Emanuel, he has set out an awful lot of goals for which we can hold him accountable. Groups like the Better Government Association are watchdogs, and so when you provide a roadmap of things to watch, and 55 recommendations crossing the entire spectrum of city life, gives us a terrific benchmark of our own to measure him by. He’s basically saying, ‘Hold me accountable.’”
Emanuel’s transition plan was released Tuesday. Among many other goals, it called for cutting management costs by 10 percent, which would necessitate a combination of salary reductions and some job cuts.
CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reported that job and/or salary cuts must total 10 percent per department. Non-union middle- to upper-management-level employees would be affected. The cuts could also be achieved by not filling open positions.
Emanuel is looking for what will total a $75 million cut to the city’s budget as he starts his term in office next week.
Emanuel also announced his chief of staff this week. Theresa Mintle, who most recently has been chief of staff to Chicago Transit Authority Board Chairman Terry Peterson, will take the post.
Shaw says choosing some insiders will benefit the administration.
“Again, to his credit, he takes somebody who knows how government operates, and it’s unrealistic, even with a reform expectation, to expect that he can bring in people with no experience,” Shaw said. “So you have a pretty good mix of people with experience run some of the basic functions like the CTA and chief of staff, and then, of course, you’re going outside for the police chief and the schools superintendent, and those are a bit more risky because they don’t know the landscape here.”
Emanuel officially takes office on Monday.