Emanuel calls Chicago a 'city on the move'

January 22, 2012 6:18:04 AM PST
Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants Chicago to be a city of the future, an affordable city with safe streets and good schools.

With nine months in office, Emanuel talked to ABC7 about a wide range of topics from his vision for the city, his style as mayor and a recent trip to Washington D.C.

"We're a city now that's on the move," he said. "Our priorities are right. We're attacking the problems as one city, not divided."

There are fiscal issues and some resistance to many of Emanuel's proposed reforms.

"I'm clear on goals, set them for myself, the administration, and the city," Emanuel said. "I'm always open to different ways to achieve them. "

On Saturday, protesters angry about the proposed closing of several mental health clinics, stormed a mayoral press conference announcing the plan to re-open neighborhood libraries on Mondays beginning next month.

The new library hours could be seen as a victory for the mayor in his latest scuffle with organized labor.

The contract with the union that represents library workers expires June 30.

"Libraries are secondary to them," Emanuel said of the union. "To me, libraries are primary. What I saw for the kids has to happen all the time and they were trying to use the need for the libraries to achieve other ends."

The political skirmish with the union aside, Emanuel is looking ahead.

"I can't stop as a mayor, a recession," he said. "I can't stop at the city boundaries. I can invest and prepare us to grow as a city."

Although he declined to give details about his recent meeting with friend and past employer President Barack Obama, Emanuel spoke candidly about speaking at the U.S. conference of mayors, where he addressed the need for educational reforms and added his voice to the growing number of mayors in support of gay marriage.

"Health care, retirement, life insurance," Emanuel said. "The whole set of benefits that you get and?forget our titles. We, we would never ? I can't get Amy X benefit? You would never think about that. Gay couples have to think about that. It's wrong."