Mayor Rahm Emanuel had little to say today about embattled charter school network UNO or activist Rev. Al Sharpton drawing attention to Chicago’s gun violence, but jumped at the opportunity to discuss Hillary Clinton’s presidential prospects in 2016.
The beleaguered United Neighborhood Organization’s charter school operation is the subject of a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigation, a probe Emanuel declined to discuss. When asked what he was doing to ensure the organization’s leadership was being held accountable, the mayor said only that he would make sure UNO meets the city’s academic standards.
The politically-connected Latino school organization is led by CEO Juan Rangel, who has been a key Emanuel supporter. Rangel has remained in a $275,000-per-year post as CEO of the school network, but stepped down from its board of directors in May as the organization was embroiled in charges of nepotism in contracts.
Emanuel was asked if it was time for Rangel to step away from the organization for good, given the SEC investigation.
“The board has to look at that,” the mayor responded. “My priority, No. 1, is making sure the education is meeting the standards we expect for our students.”
Asked if he still had confidence in Rangel, Emanuel said he wanted to wait and see what conclusions UNO’s board reaches.
The mayor also did not directly address a question about Sharpton’s decision to travel to Chicago frequently to draw attention to the city’s gun violence. When a question came up, the mayor stuck to talking points about putting more police officers on the street and pressing for tougher sentencing laws for gun crimes.
Emanuel, though, did address Hillary Clinton’s visit to Chicago today for a Jewish United Fund event. The mayor said he planned to introduce Clinton at the event, and he did not hesitate to play oddsmaker about her chances in a potential presidential in 2016.
“I do believe that if Hillary runs, she’s not only the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, she’s the front runner for being president, and I told her I’d support her if she decides to run,” Emanuel said. “It is my hope that she does.”
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