Emanuel plan knocks Daley's government, but not the mayor

May 10, 2011

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(Photo by Adnan Rashid)
Emanuel, flanked by members of his transition team, released the report Tuesday.

Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel has laid out a plan he says will help Chicagoans judge whether he is living up to his promises.

Ever since he returned to the city to seek the mayor's office, Emanuel has pointed out what he describes as serious problems with the way Chicago works. In doing so, he always tries to sidestep direct criticism of incumbent Mayor Richard Daley.

"I ask a different question," Emanuel told reporters Tuesday. "'What is the road out of here?' Not 'What was the road in here?' [but] 'What's the road out of here to solve these problems?'"

In perhaps his most complete answer to that question yet, Emanuel has released a 72-page report from his transition team, with things he wants completed within 100 days, 1 year and 1 term.

"Now we have the personnel in place," Emanuel said. "We have a detailed policy agenda: a scorecard for the public to hold my administration accountable, for me to hold my commissioners accountable."

The goals include building miles of protected bike lanes, opening new charters schools and immediately cutting $75-million from the budget.

The report demonstrates the fine line Emanuel has walked in proposing changes to the government Daley has led for more than two decades. The plan takes city government to task on a number of fronts, including using one-time fixes to solve budget deficits, a general lack of transparency and what the report calls an "inefficient" bureaucracy.

But not once does it mention the incumbent mayor. Asked about that "tightrope" he has walked during the campaign and transition, Emanuel denied he was criticizing Daley.

"I'm honored to be not only a political - quote, unquote - ally, but a personal friend of his and Maggie's," Emanuel said. "He has done great things for this city. And he has had things that he himself acknowledge would do over."

Daley has recently and repeatedly told reporters he has no regrets about his time in office.

Also on Tuesday, Emanuel released his proposal to cut the number of committees in the city council.

"We are going to eliminate, working together, three committees to take it to the fewest committees in the city council since 1950s," Emanuel said. "[The council will be] more focused on what we got to get done, with fewer committees, and there will be a 10-percent savings there."

Technically, Emanuel has no power in how the city council organizes. But he said in a statement that the recommendations are based on conversations with all 50 aldermen.

Finance Committee Chairman Ed Burke would keep his post under Emanuel's proposal, although Burke - who backed another mayoral candidate - would lose some of his power. A new committee chaired by an Emanuel ally, Patrick O'Connor, would be responsible for some key legislation.