Emanuel missing during school closing announcement

March 22, 2013 (CHICAGO)

"First of all, we'd like to thank our vacationing mayor," said activist Dwayne Truss.

Sarcastic protesters repeatedly reminded their audiences that when the school closings were announced Thursday, Emanuel was in Utah on a ski vacation with his wife and three children.

"And Mr. Mayor, if you're in Utah, please tell Mitt Romney we said hello," said Valerie Leonard, Lawndale Alliance.

The mayor's kids attend the private University of Chicago laboratory schools which are on spring break this week. An Emanuel spokeswoman said the family's Utah trip was planned some time ago.

"I wish he would have been here to help answer some of the questions," said 2nd Ward Alderman Bob Fioretti.

"I think the mayor being with his family on school break sounds pretty natural, ordinary and nice," said Frank Clark, School Closings Commission.

Clark, who chaired the commission that held hearings on school utilization, dismissed suggestions the mayor in his absence this week was trying to duck the controversy.

Clark stands behind the recommendations of CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennet that he says will offer a better education for all cps students:

"And a better education means that those kids will have a better life," Clark said.

But protesters ask why Byrd-Bennett, a mayoral appointee, did not wait until next week to announce the closings when her boss the mayor would be around to help answer questions.

"Whether Rahm's skiing or whether he's in front of the board of education, he is still making policies," said retired teacher Howard Emmer. "I feel like he was trying to look like he's not really part of this decision. But he is."

A spokeswoman says the mayor has no public events scheduled for Friday night and his weekend schedule has not been released.

As it stands now, it is unlikely we hear his take on the school closings until next week at the earliest.

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