Emanuel and Garcia trade tall tales as the mayoral runoff heads to its first debate | Bleader

Monday, March 16, 2015

Emanuel and Garcia trade tall tales as the mayoral runoff heads to its first debate

Posted By on 03.16.15 at 08:00 AM

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Mayor Emanuel waves to spectators in Saturdays Saint Patricks Day parade.
  • Tim Boyle/For Sun-Times Media
  • Mayor Emanuel waves to spectators at Saturday's Saint Patrick's Day parade.
In a press release Friday morning, the Rahm Emanuel campaign asserted that Jesus "Chuy" Garcia has spent "three decades in public office creating the fiscal mess we’re in today."

Garcia has actually been in public office only 18 years. Maybe Emanuel's campaign was rounding up.

But let's consider the latter part of Emanuel's claim—about that fiscal mess Garcia's spent his career "creating."

Garcia never held a legislative leadership role as a state senator, but as an alderman in the 1980s, he was an ally of Mayor Harold Washington, and as a Cook County commissioner now, he's floor leader for board president Toni Preckwinkle. If Emanuel thinks Washington and Preckwinkle are responsible for today's fiscal mayhem, he should say so next time he campaigns on the south side.

The mayor's campaign has made many such bogus claims about Garcia. But Garcia has been a culprit too; the bullshitting has been bipartisan.

An e-mail from Garcia's campaign Friday said Garcia was about to tour Englewood, "a community devastated by Emanuel's economic failures." Sounds like Englewood was Lincoln Park until Emanuel took office, but in fact Englewood has been devastated by poverty for a half century now, as Garcia knows quite well.

An honest discussion of the city's financial problems would begin by acknowledging that they've been decades in the making, and that the mayor and his challenger bear little responsibility for them. But instead of an honest discussion, the candidates keep climbing to greater heights of hyperbole.

Jesus Garcia also marched in Saturdays parade.

In the fiscal plan Garcia released Friday, he maintained that the mayor's mismanagement had led to the city's "greatest crisis since the Great Chicago Fire." Meantime, Emanuel's campaign recently charged (fallaciously, as the Tribune showed) that Garcia is proposing $1.9 billion in new spending, which, the mayor's spokesperson warned, would cost taxpayers an average $1,900 in property taxes.

Emanuel has the clear advantage in this battle of tall tales, since he can afford to spread his farther. With an ad budget that rivals the one for the Starbucks Flat White, the mayor does not have to be economical with his untruths.

At 6 PM tonight, NBC-5 and Telemundo Chicago will broadcast the first of three debates in the runoff. The 60-minute "roundtable conversation" will be moderated by veteran political reporter Carol Marin, who would be wise to bring a polygraph and use it liberally.

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