Thursday, September 12, 2013

Mayor Rahm to Karen Lewis: Won't you be my friend?

Posted By on 09.12.13 at 10:00 AM

Karen Lewis raises her hands at Mayor Rahms gall.
  • Alex Wroblewski/Sun-Times
  • Karen Lewis, visibly galled Mayor Rahm
I guess we know now, if we didn't already, that Mayor Emanuel's most definitely running for reelection.

The proof was on page 13 of my Bright One, home delivered as always, in a story headlined "Mayor's peace offering to CTU president."

Fran Spielman's Sun-Times article went on to reveal that Mayor Emanuel recently wrote a get-well note to Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis, who'd been under the weather.

I'm sure there's an intriguing backstory to this tale, which will perhaps someday be told in a memoir by Lewis or Emanuel. But for the moment, it's safe to say that this is as close as the mayor can come to mustering an apology for his wretched behavior.

And, let's face it, I think we'll all agree that when it comes to Karen Lewis, the mayor's been a first-class schmuck.

It all began when they got together for dinner one night soon after his election. That's the dinner where, according to Lewis, Emanuel opined that at least 25 percent of the students in Chicago public schools were never going to amount to anything, so why waste money on them?

Thus ushering in almost two years of school closings, cuts, and firings.

Mayor Emanuel swears up and down that he never, ever said that. But then, the mayor has a habit of denying things that people say he said. Last I heard, he was still denying that he told a male White House aide to "take your fucking tampon out and tell me what you have to say."

I'm not sure why he'd deny that quote. It's probably his single greatest contribution to the American vernacular, one that may someday gain him entry into Bartlett's.

Back to Lewis. The mayor followed up that first get-together with an infamous August 2011 meeting in which he allegedly said, and I quote, "Fuck you, Lewis!"

Which probably won't find its way into Bartlett's.

Mayor Emanuel hasn't really denied saying "Fuck you, Lewis." And I doubt anyone would believe him if he did—I mean, that sounds so definitely like something he would say.

In any event, that was the last time Emanuel met with Lewis. And he went on to cut her members' pay, increase their hours, take away tenure for some, and fire a whole bunch more, all the while pumping more money to nonunion charter schools, which have apparently come to the conclusion that the best way to help kids learn is to treat their teachers like fast-food workers.

And now, as the months wind down to the 2015 election, Mayor Emanuel apparently realizes that his behavior has offended legions of voters who admire or at least respect Lewis.

And by that I mean thousands and thousands of black voters, who have been waiting for someone to champion their communities since Mayor Harold Washington died back in 1987.

In fact, I'd go so far as to say that if Emanuel ran against Lewis—an election I'd love to see happen—she'd whup his booty. At least in the black community.

But I digress . . .

The thing is, the mayor obviously feels the need for a little fence mending, so he sends her a personal note. And then makes sure everyone knows all about it, though Lewis herself was gracious enough to call the get-well note "a definite olive branch."

A word of advice to my mayor. I think it may take a little more than a get-well note to get this relationship on the right track. You might have to cut a deal on the pensions, hire back a few of the hundreds of teachers you fired, and cut back on the money you're diverting to the charters.

In other words, Mr. Mayor, treat Lewis as if she were one of those really rich investment bankers you really love, love, love.

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