John Kass: Mayoral tan? Bali Hai Mayor Rahmfather

  • Pin It
Nice tan, Mr. Mayor!

You came back from steamy and tropical Indonesia to a city frozen in ice and snow, where the side streets and alleys hadn't been plowed and where schoolkids were almost sent into the worst of the cold.

But Rahm Emanuel wasn't worried. He held a Monday news conference about the cold, and almost all of his commissioners who flanked him were dressed like the mayor, in fleece and boots, bureaucrats eager to play the heroic action figure for the cameras.

The women were dressed professionally. But of the men, only police Superintendent Garry McCarthy and Chicago Housing Authority boss Mike Merchant were secure enough to wear suits and ties. Their mothers had raised them properly.

Rahm? He had some kind of Jack Bauer fleece going on.

"I was away with my family on holiday," he said at the news conference that I just couldn't miss, which is why you're getting a bonus column from me today -- "and I was in regular contact."

Of course, he was in regular contact. But he wouldn't take my questions, so I couldn't ask him about his killer tan, though a few reporters speculated privately he might have used a wee bit of powder to tamp down that bronze sheen.

"Every one of the commissioners know and would report I've been in contact with them on a regular basis, and with my chief of staff multiple times on a daily basis," said Mayor Rahmfather, adding that his family didn't think he was on vacation given all his communicating with City Hall.

It all sounded so smooth, kind of like Nancy Pelosi's face only with words, until I realized something.

The mayor of Chicago had been rolled and embarrassed by Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis into closing Chicago Public Schools.

City Hall's original plan -- with Rahm in the tropics -- was to keep the schools open Monday. But for days previous, every weathercaster in America, and Matt Drudge, knew that on Monday, Chicago would just about freeze its brass monkeys off.

And still Team Rahm considered keeping schools open, until Lewis issued a short news release saying that "common sense" dictated that schools be closed for the safety of the children. And it was done.

Schools closed.

Lewis didn't merely roll him. She dropped him in flour, flipped him over a bit in there for a thorough dusting, then slipped him into a hot frying pan as if he were some tiny Indonesian smelt.

You can imagine her singing "Bali Hai" as she popped him into her mouth, crunching down on his diminutive and crispy, mayoral form.

But that's not the way Team Rahm sees it.

He was asked about how he let things get so far with the 40-below wind chill and parents not knowing late into Sunday afternoon whether schools would be open, when he stepped back and bravely allowed his schools chief, Barbara Byrd-Bennett to answer for him.

"That's not quite accurate," she told reporters of the Lewis-rolled-Rahm-again scenario. "As we began to take a look at the decrease in the temperature, and a decrease in the wind chill factor ... we thought it best. ... It may have seemed at the last minute, but it wasn't."

Byrd-Bennett was asked, didn't the teachers union compel you to close schools with its social media campaign?

  • Pin It

Editorial Poll


Andy Green, the opinion editor, has taken the "know a little bit about everything" approach in his time at The Sun. He was the city/state editor before coming to the editorial board, and prior to that he covered the State House and Baltimore County government.

Tricia Bishop, the deputy editorial page editor, was a reporter in the business and metro sections covering biotechnology, education and city and federal courts prior to joining the board.

Peter Jensen, former State House reporter and features writer, takes the lead on state government, transportation issues and the environment; he is the board's resident funny man and capital schmooze.

Glenn McNatt, who returned to editorial writing after serving as the newspaper's art critic, keeps an eye on the arts, culture, politics and the law for the editorial board.

Scottish independence [Poll]

Should Scotland split from the United Kingdom?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Not sure