Photo: Adam FagenSo can the bull-headed, bare-knuckled, notoriously foul-mouthed Rahm Emanuel help save America’s cities?
In May, the former Obama chief of staff will be sworn in (and yes, his ex-boss has made that joke) as mayor of Chicago.
And the nation’s mayors — facing an ugly fight for dwindling federal funds — are understandably hopeful that Emanuel might help them play smarter and tougher with Washington, now that he’s on their team.
Governing magazine reports:
Emanuel could be in a unique position to provide an influential voice for cities and help them navigate the ins and outs of the federal government. “He has a lot of inside experience … in terms of how to get things done and who to talk to,” St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay says.
“I think that he will be a big advocate for cities [and] he’ll be a tremendous resource for cities and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, working with us to fine tune and develop our agenda and message in Washington,” Slay added.
Burnsville, Minn., Mayor Elizabeth B. Kautz, president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, says that her organization hasn’t met with Emanuel yet but intends to reach out to the mayor-elect. Next month, the group is hosting a summit in Chicago. “The network that he brings to our table [is] of great value and a great asset to us,” Kautz says….
Bruce Katz, director of the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution, called Emanuel’s election a “major event” for cities. But he doesn’t think Emanuel’s experience as a federal leader is his greatest asset.
Instead, Katz gives the mayor-elect high marks for his views on economic development and understanding that international exports will be a driver for job growth — a view Daley shared. “I think people think [Emanuel] gets the federal government and he’ll somehow figure out how to link local vision to national policy,” Katz says. “I think his most important impact in the near-term is he’s going to be part of the pro-growth class of political leaders.”
Some of the things Emanuel has said he’ll be pushing for: more transit, more bike lanes, and high-speed rail. He’s also proposed the creation of “Energy Efficiency Target Zones.” Which could be f**king awesome.