At an October 22 forum sponsored by Columbia College, three prominent Chicago political analysts gave Mayor Rahm Emanuel grades ranging from "C" to "D-" to "incomplete." Emanuel lost points because of his battle with the Chicago Teachers Union and his looming confrontations in negotiations with the transit workers, firefighters and police unions.
The speakers—professors from DePaul University and from Columbia College, and Chicago Reader firebrand columnist Ben Joravsky—each speculated that Emanuel’s labor problems stemmed from the mayor's infamously combative personality.
Larry Bennett, a political science professor at DePaul who gave Emanuel an "incomplete" since the mayor is mid-term, offered three hypotheses as to why the mayor took “such an aggressive approach” with the teachers:
Did Mayor Emanuel really think the Chicago Teachers Union was the devil and in order to improve public education in Chicago you have to break the teachers union?
(Or) was Mayor Emanuel’s approach in some sense political—(as though) taking a hard line with the teachers union was going to endear him with certain constituencies which would be of use to him?
Or was it possibly produced by a character flaw—a reflexive tendency to bully people who you ought to engage in a cooperative effort?
Joravsky, too, raised the possibility that Emanuel’s stubbornness and impulsivity played a role in the showdown with the Chicago Teachers Union. He noted that tensions first rose when Emanuel insisted on demanding a longer school day—despite the fact that there was not money to pay teachers for their extra work and neither teachers nor parents cited school day length as a major problem. ................(more)