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Loyola Forum Discusses Mayor Emmanuel's Performance

Loyola Neighborhood News: Lake Shore Campus - V3, I2

On Tuesday, Sept. 13, a panel of media professionals from across Chicagoland convened to assess the performance of Mayor Rahm Emanuel during his first four months in office.

A crowd of 150 gathered in Kasbeer Hall at Loyola’s Water Tower Campus for Rating Rahm: The Media Assesses Mayor Emmanuel, a forum moderated by Phil Ponce , host of WTTW’s Chicago Tonight and distinguished faculty in residence at Loyola.

The panel included Mick Dumke, city hall reporter for The Reader; Laura Washington, columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times; Kristen Mack, city hall reporter for the Chicago Tribune; Charles Thomas, political reporter for ABC-7; and Carol Marin, political editor at NBC-5 and segment host for Chicago Tonight. 

Panelists rated Emanuel’s performance in office during the last four months. Washington commented on accusations of Emmanuel’s union busting in order to increase the length of the school day in Chicago Public Schools.

“As we’ve seen in this last week, he is focused on the end goal, but he’s not as concerned as how you get there,” said Washington.

Marin agreed, questioning, “If these schools are good enough for Chicago’s children, does he deem them good enough for his own children?”

Ponce asked whether Chicago’s political climate called for a necessary tenacity in a mayor, with Dumke asserting a firm “yes.”

“There is an expectation that we want someone who’s going to be tough on issues,” explained Dumke. “There will be scandals in this administration. The question is, ‘Is this what we wanted?’” 

The panelists also spoke about their personal interactions with Emmanuel’s reputed toughness, especially with the media. Thomas claimed, “I think he continues to intimidate the press.”

“We set the agenda, we decide what the issue is on behalf of the people,” said Thomas. “That dynamic is being lost with Mayor Emanuel.”

Mack agreed, questioning, “how do [journalists] move beyond the press release to show what the real issue is?”

“You don’t negotiate news stories,” she added, “ but that’s how he tries to control the media and dictate his image.”

When the forum was opened to questions from the audience, an attendee was concerned with the journalists’ apparent biases. Loyola student Liz Levy, 19, junior majoring in Sports Marketing and Management, felt differently.

“I think that we also need to have a dose of skepticism with the news,” she said. “Just like the media, we can’t believe everything we’re told.”

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