CHICAGO (CBS) — Rahm Emanuel claims his biggest success as mayor came in restoring Chicago’s swagger and improving the city’s schools.
But he admited, he could never get a grip on Chicago’s violence. CBS 2 political reporter Derrick Blakley was at one of his last speeches as mayor.
With just 18 days until his mayoralty ends, Rahm Emanuel admitted he just can’t fathom the mindset behind Chicago’s worst street violence.
“I know you can get down, you can get desperate but the idea you would kill somebody for a street corner you that none of you pay mortgage on or own, I don’t get it. And I’m gonna walk out of here with that riddle unanswered,” said Emanuel.
But out of that violence, the mayor said, he’s also seen his greatest source of hope for the city. In people like the parents of murdered teen Hadiya Pendleton.
“Nate and Cleo asked for something. They wanted a space so they could help train young men in skills so they don’t feel so desperate they have to shoot somebody,” Emanuel said. “They’re my heroes because I don’t think I’d have the grace and humanity if something happened to Ilana, Zack or Leah, that they’ve shown.”
Emanuel said reviving Chicago’s confidence to tackle big problems may be his biggest accomplishment.
“We got our game back. We got the spring in our step. We don’t doubt ourselves anymore and more importantly, we don’t doubt the ability of the kids of Chicago to set records,” Emanuel said.
And it’s in educational gains that Emanuel takes the most pride. Higher achievement and graduation rates at CPS, as well as a longer school day, while admitting his blunt manner and lack of patience rubbed some the wrong way.
“I am at fault for being impatient. I take it. I’m happy about that. Because sometimes a political system with a lot of fixed interests needs a little impatience in it,” he added.
Emanuel also pushed back against critics who claim he’s promoted downtown but neglected the neighborhoods. Emanuel said no world class city has a decaying central business district. And he said Loop revenues are starting to fund important investments in struggling communities.