Emanuel tells city workers not to 'rush' and swap city signs

New mayor also announces $75-million in budget savings

May 17, 2011

(WBEZ/Sam Hudzik)
Emanuel on Tuesday held his first mayoral press conference in a garage housing city vehicles.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's name has started showing up on some prominent signs in Chicago. But Emanuel said city workers should hold off on replacing the remaining signs that say "Richard M. Daley."

Emanuel said that on his first day, city workers only changed the signs they saw as "essential."

"They did the kind of what they thought they needed to do, which is the ones at the airport," Emanuel said Tuesday.

The new mayor did not mention the Chicago Skyway, where his name also appeared Monday. But Emanuel said he made it clear to the city during the transition that he is not interested in a full-scale swap.

"I do not want people rushing out, making changes on a whole bunch of signs, wasting time, wasting dollars, for no reason," Emanuel said.

When Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn took office in 2009, his spokesman said the governor directed state agencies to "replace [former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's] name in a timely and least expensive manner." He added that Quinn's preference was for large signs to be left blank, or read simply "The People of Illinois."

Emanuel's office said no decision has been made about what the bulk of Chicago's signs will say when they are replaced.

Also on Tuesday, Emanuel announced plans to trim $75-million dollars from this year's budget. That is a relatively small down-payment on a larger plan to close next year's budget deficit, which is expected to top a half-billion dollars.

"This is through efficiencies, asking some hard questions that had not been asked in the past," Emanuel said. "I don't so much see it as waste, as it is asking some core questions about a different way of doing business."

The mayor did not release line-by-line specifics on the budget savings. But, under the plan, the city will cut administrative costs associated with state and federal grants, and take advantage of previously unused grant money. That is estimated to improve City Hall's bottom line by $30-million over the next few months.

Emanuel also announced he is freezing city contracts that his budget director has deemed "non-essential," for things like equipment rental and office supplies.