Emanuel's top priority: New CPS CEO

March 15, 2011 7:06:17 PM PDT
Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel isn't sworn in until May, but his transition team is hard at work. He met with some of the team members Tuesday for a progress report.

He said he his first order of business remains finding a new leader for the Chicago Public Schools.

"There's no doubt that CEO of the schools is important. It's top of the list," said Emanuel. "And I'm conducting a lot of discussions with my committee about what we're looking for and what type of person we want."

Down the list -- but still near the top -- is selecting a replacement for former police superintendent Jody Weis. The Chicago Police Board will recommend three candidates from which the mayor may choose.

Emanuel made it clear he'd like the nominees to include Philadelphia chief Charles Ramsey, a former Chicago deputy superintendent who Emanuel says could rebuild the city's community policing effort.

"If you look at Chuck Ramsey's record, he has all the skills and qualities to do that," said Emanuel.

The mayor-elect met Tuesday morning at Google's Chicago headquarters with his transition team's committee on budget and government reinvention.

But the City Council could have as much to say about change during Emanuel's first term.

Political science professor Dick Simpson predicted as many as three aldermanic factions could form. One is controlled by the mayor, another is controlled by senior alderman Ed Burke and a third, nearly as large independent group.

"And you could even begin to get different racial interests. Do Latino aldermen, most of whom supported Chico and Del Valle in their election bid for mayor, are they automatically going to support Emanuel? Well, it depends on whether it's good for the Latino community," said Simpson.

To build his base in the upcoming council, the mayor-elect has endorsed candidates in eight aldermanic runoffs:

  • 6th Ward: Fredrenna Lyle
  • 15th Ward: Toni foulkes
  • 16th Ward: Joann Thompson
  • 17th Ward: Latasha Thomas
  • 25th Ward: Danny Solis
  • 36th Ward: John Rice
  • 38th Ward: Tim Cullerton
  • 50th Ward: Debra Silverstein

All but Debra Silverstein are incumbents. Emanuel said all have agreed to support his reform agenda.

"We now need to meet the challenge head on of making the changes necessary to put our fiscal house in order so the city stays competitive economically," said Emanuel.

In other comments Tuesday, the mayor-elect called police officers, firefighters, teachers and other city workers "neighborhood anchors" who should be required to live in the city to sustain its middle class. Emanuel said during the campaign he was open to a discussion of changing the residency requirement. Apparently the discussion has ended and for the next four years at least, the residency rule will stand.